1981 Ferrari Mondial 8
8-cyl. 2927cc/214hp Bosch FI
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Ferrari revealed their replacement for the 308 GT4 at the Geneva Auto Show in 1980. The Mondial 8 was styled by Pininfarina and sat on a wheelbase that was four inches longer than its predecessor. The car’s stretched ride afforded more leg room for rear passengers and made the 2+2 configuration more practical than the 308 GT4. The Mondial 8 was powered by the same transverse 2927-cc V-8 that was in the 308 GT4, now with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and 214 hp. The Ferrari Mondial 8 became available in the U.S. in 1982, and while the press praised it for its ergonomics, build quality, and handling, its acceleration was not on par with the 308 GT4, which was carbureted and lighter. In order to address these criticisms Ferrari introduced the Mondial Quattrovalvole in 1983, replacing the two-valve motor with a four-valve-per-cylinder version of the now familiar 3 liter V-8.
The Mondial Quattrovalvole not only performed better with its new four-valve heads, but was also available as a convertible from 1984 on. With more power and an open air option, the Mondial QV largely addressed the nits that owners and enthusiasts picked with the original 1982 car.
All V-8 powered Ferraris enjoyed a power increase in 1986 when the quattrovalve motor's displacement was increased to 3.2 liters, and the resultant Mondial 3.2 now had 260 hp in coupe and Cabriolet form. In addition to their badging, these cars can be distinguished from previous Mondials by their updated interiors, body color bumpers and larger, new style wheels. Anti-lock brakes became available in this third generation Mondial from 1987 on. Cabriolets outnumbered coupes on U.S. shores by a significant margin at this point in the car’s production run.
The fourth and final Mondial version arrived in 1989 and was known as the Mondial t. This car was significantly different from the previous three generations in that its new 3.4-liter, 300-hp V-8 was mounted longitudinally, with the gearbox being transverse, thus making the whole unit look like a "T" from above (hence the car’s designation). Not only did the Ferrari Mondial t promise more horsepower and performance, it also debuted power steering. The Mondial t was in production from 1989-1993, all being Cabriolets, with the exception of 39 coupes that were delivered to the U.S. in 1989 only. A very small number of Mondial t models (reportedly less than 20) also came to America with the Valeo semi-automatic gearbox, a forerunner of the later F1 style paddle transmissions.
Fewer than 7,000 Mondials were built over the course of four series. They are all comfortable, entertaining, and fun to drive for a modern family Ferrari. While the Mondial has a reputation for being maintenance intensive, this can largely be mitigated if a prospective buyer focuses on cars with solid service histories and evidence of disciplined preventative maintenance. Electrical issues with power windows and hatch releases as well as the complex top on Cabriolets are particular areas to review, and all Mondials up until the middle of the third series (3.2) had metric wheels that limit your tire choice to the costly and dated Michelin TRX metric radials. Aftermarket wheels on early cars are fairly common as a result of this. The belt service on the 1989-93 3.4-liter Mondial t requires that the engine be removed from the car, whereas all earlier cars can be serviced while the engine remains in the car.