Let’s get one somewhat uncomfortable truth out of the way immediately: a new Ford Fiesta ST or 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5 will keep pace with a Ferrari Mondial on a sprint to 62mph and a new Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid – weighing nearly a tonne more – will eat it for breakfast.
Indeed, even the most potent form of the Mondial offers just 296bhp, and its most common and accessible variant brought a piddling 215bhp to the table. It’s not an unhinged homologation special like the same-aged 288 GTO, then, nor an outlandish, tough-to-tame analogue spaceship like the Testarossa.
In fact, although its name sounds suitably exotic when pronounced in its native accent, the Mondial was christened in reference to its compliance with global safety and emissions standards – hardly ammo for a successful pub brag.
Gosh, we’re not exactly selling it, are we? But if you cast your eye rearwards, you will note the presence of a pair of extra seats, which give it an edge over most comparable classics in terms of usability, and you should be able to pick up a nice example for a touch under £30,000, so it’s a good deal more obtainable.
And remember, that engine is a Maranello-engineered, naturally aspirated V8 with a flat-plane crank. Thus it sounds just about fruity enough to convince the ill-educated that it’s a full-bore performance weapon, especially when breathing through a Tubi or Larini performance exhaust (seriously, look on YouTube), even if the relatively staid styling rather quashes the illusion.
You won’t be disappointed by the handling, either; with fresh suspension bushes and ball joints, that chassis comes alive on the right road, with the rear-mid-engined layout giving a decent centre of gravity and optimised weight distribution.
This quad-saddled prancing horse hit the market in 1980 as the Mondial 8, and while these early 3.0-litre cars are easy to find and cheap to buy, you get better performance with the Quattrovalvole (named for its four valves per cylinder) that arrived in 1982 and better still from the upsized 3.2-litre lump that came in 1985.
La crema del raccolto is the Mondial T, which took the model through from 1989 to its retirement in 1993. This final incarnation upped the performance stakes by boosting engine capacity to 3.4 litres for a much more respectable 0-60mph time of 5.6sec, according to our 1992 road test.
There was also a convertible option from 1983 onwards, but the soft top’s storage bay ate into the rear seats, so don’t expect to take the whole family out for a top-down blast.
Part of the reason enthusiasts never warmed to the Mondial was mostly due to its lukewarm performance but also because its strong sales (more than 6000) diluted Ferrari’s specialist brand cachet.
As far as we’re concerned, though, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with democratising sports cars. And in a world where a 250 GTO can fetch £52 million, we welcome a cheap route into Ferrari ownership.