Context is King.

I’ve often talked about the reason why/how the Mondial got the ‘poor’ performer albatross tossed around its neck. When the Mondial 8 first came it, it was designed from the get-go to pass stringent emissions rules worldwide, specifically the United States, and in particular – Califonia (that had even stricter laws.)

I wanted to give a history lesson on just how severe those restrictions were in the US by providing the horsepower figures for most of the sports cars at the time. In all cases, I will give the value for the ‘top of the line’ version of each model.

1980 Challenger
105 HP
0-60: 12.1
1/4 Mile 18.2


1980 Mustang “Cobra”
132 HP
0-60: 10.8
1/4 Mile: 18.2


1980 Mercedes Benz 380 SL
155 HP
0-60: 10.8
1/4 Mile: 18.2


1981 Camero “Z28” – it had to be fitted with specialized emissions equipment to pass California rules (you guessed it – Ferrari’s biggest market)
165 HP
0-60: 9.7


1980 Maserati Marek
180 HP
0-60: 9.2
1/4: 17.1

1979 Lamborghini Uracco (US version)
180 HP
0-60: 10.1
1/4: 17.9

1980 Corvette – again had to have unique emissions equipment for the market that Ferrari needed compliance: California
“The only powertrain available in California is a five-liter V-8 with automatic….”
180 HP
0-60: 8.3
1/4: 16.5
(The stats for the Vette is the performance for the non-California version btw which was faster)

1980 Porsche 928
229 HP
0-60: 8.2
1/4: 16.2

I’ve listed the automotive competition of the time. How about the Mondial 8?

Just in case I am accused of “cherry-picking numbers” Let me take the WORSE review and performance of the Mondial 8 (you know the one where they admitted the car had broken shifter that would often go from 4th gear to 2nd)

1980 Mondial 8
205 HP
0-60: 9.4
1/4: 17.1


If you take Motortrend, the Mondial beat or were as fast as the competition.
0-60: 8.2
1/4: 16.3

So what does this all mean? Ferrari was victim to new rules in 1980 (like every other automaker.) – It’s just unlike other models, it was comfortable for ‘journalists’ to keep repeating the same trope over and over again.

The car was never given context based on the era. Sadly, these writers would regurgitate the 1980 reviews for the three iterations to come.  You might be wondering, where is the 911 Turbo?

It was pulled from US in 1980…I’ll let you guess the reason why.  All I can say is 1980 was probably the worse year of all time when it came to performance cars — a time when you had 180 HP Vettes and 130 HP Mustangs – For something to come out 205 HP was eye-opening in itself in that horrible time.

One thing to note as well is I started doing analysis – I first limited it to cars that were 2+2 (I mean it’s sort of unfair to compare cars from different classes.) For example, one would not compare a Lusso to a Mclaren 720. What I found was when compared to 2+2 – the 8 was more than capable. So I extended it to strictly 2 seaters only like the Vette and Delorean and 308GTSi

What I found was even compared to the 2 seat ‘pure’ sports cars the Mondial 8 had nothing to be ashamed about. Being behind 0.1 seconds the 308gtsi should not make any US 8 owner feel especially bad.

Again, let me say the Mondial 8 is SLOW. No doubt about it. This is not an attempt at revisionist history. The thing I want to remind folks though is ALL BRAND US CARS (were slow the year Ronald Reagon took office. Just a conveniently left out and the most important piece of context when evaluating the “poor” performing Mondial.

Nevermind that the Mondial was considered the best handling Ferrari EVER up to that point (that’s never mentioned huh?) Nor do people understand California compliant and handicapped Mondial 8 (US Spec) represents just 2 PERCENT of all Mondials on the road.

When Chevy/Ford/etc. Improved their fuel injection, nobody keeps repeating the ‘slow’ Corvette/Mustang/etc reviews. But with only 147 examples of Calfornia/EPA mandated (or put another way approximately 2% of all Mondials) variant of the Mondial 8s – you don’t have much of a cohort to have ‘backfire.’

I’ve gotten some emails saying “No way the Mondial 8” was one of the ‘fastest’ cars in 1980! Look at the Contach or 512 for a start.

Yes, let’s look at them. The Contach was not allowed to be imported into the US until the mid-80s – the 512 was disallowed altogether (you needed to grey market it)

Enzo Ferrari himself was bearish on the US market in the late 70’s because before Reagon got elected (and stopped further tightening) – he predicted that regulations would only get tougher. By the time the QV came out, and Maranello figured out how to a handle on emissions-the 147 examples with the lean/’banana in the tailpipe‘ method of appeasing the bureaucrats were already on their way to be the standard bearer of the 98% of the Mondials that would come after.

Talk about a PR disaster.

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