The history of the Ferrari Mondial

   

The Ferrari Mondial is a 2+2 coupe automobile produced by Ferrari from 1980 through 1993. It replaced the angular 208/308 GT4. The "Mondial" name came from Ferrari's history the famed 500 Mondial race car of the early 1950s. Despite its predecessor being Bertone styled, the Mondial saw Ferrari return to Pininfarina for styling. It was sold as a mid-sized coupe and, eventually, a cabriolet. The Mondial was conceived as a 'usable' model, offering the practicality of four seats and the performance of a Ferrari. The car had a slightly higher roofline than its stablemates, with a single long door either side, offering easy access and good interior space, reasonable rear legroom, while allround visibility was excellent.
The Mondial was produced in fairly high numbers for a Ferrari, with more than 6,800 produced in its 13-year run, and was one of Ferrari's most commercially successful models. Today a Mondial represents one of the most affordable and usable Ferrari models. The car body was not built as a monocoque in the same way as a conventional car; the steel outer body was produced by the famous Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Scaglietti, just down the road in nearby Modena, built over a lightweight steel box-section space frame. The engine cover and rear luggage compartment lids are in light alloy. The seats and interior were trimmed in Connolly hide, contrasting with the body colour. Most cars were painted rosso red, but some were black or silver, and a few were dark blue.
The Mondial was the first Ferrari car where the entire engine/gearbox/rear suspension assembly was mounted on a detachable steel subframe, making engine removal for a major rebuild or cylinder head removal much easier than it was on previous models. Unusually, the handbrake is situated between the driver's seat and the inner sill. Once the handbrake is set it drops down so as not to impede egress and ingress. Instead of the normal "H shift pattern, the pattern has 1st gear in a "dog leg" to the left and back, behind reverse. This puts 5th gear to the right and back behind 4th, making shifts between 4th to 5th much more straightforward.
The Mondial was introduced as the Mondial 8 in 1980. It was the first Ferrari to depart from the company's familiar 3-digit naming scheme and was fairly mild-performing (for a Ferrari). It used a mid/rear-mounted Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection V8, shared with the 308 GTBi/GTSi, mounted transversely. The engine was originally used in the 1973 Dino 308 GT4. The K-Jetronic system is mechanical with a high pressure pump which streams fuel continusly to the injectors & does not have a computer, just a few relays to handle the cold start sequence etc. The chassis was also based on the 308 GT4, but with a 100 mm (3.9 in) longer wheelbase at 2,650 mm (104.3 in). The suspension was the classic layout of unequal-length double wishbones & Koni dampers all around.
The Mondial 8 is considered one of the marque's most inexpensive to maintain (major service can be performed without removing the entire engine/transmission subframe), and even practical vehicles due to its 214 hp (160 kW), proven drivetrain, and four seats.
The first Mondial engine, although a DOHC design, used just two valves per cylinder. The 1982 Quattrovalvole or QV introduced a new 4-valve head, the combustion chamber design was purportedly based on the early 80's F1 engine. Again, the engine was shared with the contemporary 308 GTB/GTS QV, and produced a much more respectable 240 hp (179 kW).
A new Cabriolet bodystyle was added for 1983. Body styling remained the same as the coupé variant, with the roof maintaining the 'buttress' design of the roof, though the Cabriolet required the rear seats to be mounted closer together laterally. The introduction of the Cabriolet saw the popularity of the Mondial rise, particularly in the American market, where the convertible body style was highly desirable.
Available in both Coupe and Cabriolet forms, styling was refreshed with restyled and body-coloured bumpers, similar to the 328 with more integrated indicators & driving lamps, and new wheels with a more rounded face. The 3.2 also boasted a major interior update, with a more ergonomic layout & a more rounded instrument binnacle, later cars sported ABS (1987 onwards). Fuel injection remained the primarily mechanical Bosch K-Jetronic (CIS) with an o2 sensor in the exhaust providing feedback to a simple computer for mixture trimming via a pulse modulated frequency valve that regulated control fuel pressure. Ignition system was Marelli Microplex, with electronic advance control and one distributor per bank of the V8. The 1988 Mondial 3.2 would be the final model year that retained the relatively low maintenance costs of the 308/328 drivetrain, allowing major service items like timing belt and clutch replacement to be performed with the engine/transmission package still in the car.
Mondial t coupe.The final Mondial evolution was 1989's Mondial t (Coupe and Cabriolet). It was a substantially changed model, "spearhead of a new generation of V8 Ferraris", according to Road & Track magazine. It was visually different from preceding Mondial models, the most recognisable being the redesign of the air intakes to a smaller, neater rectangular shape. The door-handles were of a visually different design and, along with the bumpers, became body coloured, whilst a painted black band was added around the bottom of the body. Under the skin, however, it's a very different car.
The 't' called attention to the car's new engine/transmission layout: the previously-transverse engine was now mounted longitudinally whilst the gearbox remained transverse, thus forming a 't'. By adopting this layout, a longer engine could be mounted lower in the chassis, improving handling dramatically. The 't' configuration was used by Ferrari's Formula One cars of the 1980s, and would be the standard for the marque's future mid-engined V8 cars, beginning with the 348, introduced later in the year. The transverse gearbox was fitted with a Limited Slip Differential with a twin-plate clutch design with beveled gears driving the wheels. Later in production, a Semi-automatic transmission termed "Valeo" was available as an option; while shifting was by means of a traditional gear lever, the clutch was actuated automatically without a clutch pedal. The engine was up to 3.4 L (3405 cc) and 300 hp (224 kW). The engine was now controlled by Bosch Motronic DME 2.5 (later DME 2.7) electronic engine management that integrated EFI and ignition control into a single computer unit. Two of these were used in the car: one for each bank of the engine. Engine lubrication was upgraded to a dry-sump system.
The Mondial's chassis would underpin a new generation of 2-seat Ferraris, right up to the 360, but the 2+2 Mondial would end production just four and a half years later in 1993. However, the "t" layout of the engine and transaxle, adapted from Ferrari's Formula One cars, continues to be used in mid-engined V8 model Ferraris to date, albeit with a more sophisticated chassis. The new layout saw the engine and transmission mounted on a removable subframe; the assembly could be removed through the underside of the vehicle for maintenance. This is necessary for timing belt replacement, making this a costly procedure for the owner who does not have a lift. On the other hand, the clutch was now located at the very rear of the drive train. This makes clutch replacement and service a simple, inexpensive, and readily owner-doable proposition.
The "t" was home to other Ferrari firsts: It used power assisted steering for the first time, and had a 3-position electronically controlled suspension for a variable trade off between ride quality and road holding. It also had standard ABS.
The Mondial t represented the most substantial upgrade to the Mondial model line in performance and handling since its introduction in 1980. Previous Mondials had rarely justified their price premium over the competition in terms of bare performance statistics, which led to some poor press coverage. The "t" offered greater performance whilst retaining a mid-engined layout and a practical packaging layout, and was more favorably received. Whilst offering a genuine Ferrari driving experience, it had the advantage of two usable rear seats; something that a considerable number of competitors did not offer.
Despite over a decade in production, with consistent updates throughout, the Mondial's final models weighed less than its earlier models; typically, updates to a long production run add significant mass to a particular model. The company has not produced a mid-engined 2+2 car since, in fact front-engined V12s such as the 456 and the current 612 Scaglietti, were the company's only 4-seat vehicle offerings until 2009's V8 "California". However, the California is front engined, leaving the Mondial t as the most modern 4-seat, mid-engined, Ferrari yet produced.

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