Achieving a balanced and happy design for a four-seater mid-engined sports cars is not an easy exercise.
Like just about every other car enthusiast, one of my ultimate car dreams is owning a Ferrari. I deliberately say “a Ferrari” as a rather broad term, as the Italian marque is so iconic that the chosen model is almost insignificant. However, they’re in high demand from all of us enthusiasts and dreamers, which in turn has led to high prices. Almost without exception – but not quite. For that reason, it’s been clear to me for some time now that my Ferrari would be either a 308 GT4 or a 400-series.
Truth be told, that’s a very practical and financial consideration – but still, neither are bad choices. I actually really like both models – both in terms of design, history and all the rest. Granted, I’m not quite as fond of the associated cost of service and maintenance on the latter. The bigger 400-series was in period extremely expensive and the upkeep followed suit.
But I’m not the only one who has seen the light, as many other Ferrari enthusiasts have recently thrown their love upon these two models, thereby driving the prices northbound and closer to the usually expected exuberant Ferrari levels. Options are far and few – that is, until you stumble across the Mondial.
Oh no, the Mondial! Hated and ridiculed by many for both its design and lack of performance. Towards the end of the models lifespan, Ferrari managed to rectify the performance issue, but the design remained largely unaltered. I suppose there wasn’t much they could do anyway. If a car is to have both a mid-engined layout and also four seats, then those seats will necessarily have to be positioned towards the very front of the car – leading to those fairly nose-heavy proportions which the Mondial suffers under.
Or does it – I mean, suffer? I should confess that I’m starting to appreciate the Mondial more and more. Admitted, not to the extent where I feel it’s elegant or beautiful like its two-seater sibling, the 308 and 328. Not even close. In fact, it doesn’t even come close to matching its predecessor, the 308 GT4. It was of course designed by Bertone while the Mondial returned to Pininfarina – but the nose-heavy proportions are obvious on them both.
Nonetheless, the Mondial seems to have matured to the point where I could actually see one living in my garage. Or is it in fact me who has matured enough to lower my standards to what is physically achievable? I’m not sure to be honest. I’m also not entirely sure whether age is a factor: Is the Mondial an old-mans-Ferrari?
Only recently, I met a man who spoke very positively and warmly about his old Mondial. In a slightly perplexed tone he even remarked that “everything works on it”. He didn’t mention beauty though. And neither did I. We also didn’t talk about prices – probably because we both knew perfectly well that the Mondial is at the very bottom of the hierarchy. Also on that account, one could be tempted to say.
But there’s no denying the facts. With a mid-eighties Mondial sporting four valves per cylinder, you get a real 240 km/h car. Mid-engined layout. Retractable headlights. Pininfarina. Leather. V8. Wedge. And not least, that family name! If you just dream of owning a Ferrari, a Mondial will tick that box too. Currently there is no doubt that it is the cheapest entry ticket to the promised land of the Prancing Horse. Both to purchase and to maintain.
The question is, though – is that enough?