by Andrew Newton
3 June 2022
3 min read
Ferraris aren’t supposed to be cheap. Ever the high-performance status symbol, they evoke racing royalty like Schumacher and Surtees, or cologne ad fantasies like blasting down the Pacific Coast Highway with a supermodel in the passenger seat. For mere mortals like us, a Ferrari is a prohibitively expensive purchase and—thanks to sky-high costs for parts and specialized labor—ruinously expensive to own, too. That said, there are a few exceptions from Maranello that have historically let people live out Ferrari dreams on a Fiat budget.
The Mondial is the most well-known of these. For some time, it’s been the cheap Ferrari. So when one sold for $82,950 online this week (33 grand more than its #1 value in the Hagerty Price Guide), we sat up a little straighter in our seats and started asking questions. Is nothing sacred anymore? Is there even such a thing as an entry-level Ferrari these days? Is this much money for a Mondial a sign of peak market craziness?
Even when new, the Mondial was an entry-level model. Introduced in 1980 to replace the Dino 308 GT4, Ferrari used the French word for “global” as the car’s name, hinting at their desire to expand sales and reach into less exclusive territory. It wasn’t particularly fast or pretty, and as a 2+2, it could be derided as the family man’s Ferrari. In Ferrari math, 2+2 always equals less cool, and with Testarossas and F40s stealing the show, they just didn’t print many Mondial bedroom posters.
It nevertheless sold very well, with about 7,000 built over a 14-year production run. What’s more, it got consistently better over time. A more powerful four-valve “Quattrovalvole” (QV) version arrived in 1983, followed by a wind-in-the-hair cabriolet in 1984. In 1986, the engine grew to 3.2 liters, the interior improved, and the wheels got bigger. ABS came in 1987, and in 1989 the Mondial T came out with a new 3.4-liter engine now mounted longitudinally in the chassis to a transverse gearbox (hence the “T”).
Even with the constant improvement, the combination of poor image and plentiful supply has kept Mondials at the bottom of the Ferrari totem pole. Once they hit the used car market, they got cheap and stayed there. To add insult to injury, with expensive Ferrari maintenance as inevitable as death and taxes, subsequent Mondial owners frequently had a habit of deferring repairs. This further devalued the cars when they came to sale and didn’t do the Mondial’s market reputation any favors, either.
That’s why we put the Mondial on our list of the market’s most unloved Ferraris a few months ago. Since then, we’ve seen signs that it’s beginning to get some more attention, and indeed values have crept up a few percent. Even so, this week’s $83,000 car still seems well ahead of the curve.
It’s not perfect by Ferrari standards—the A/C needs a refresh and there appears to have been a minor rear-end hit in its past—but by Mondial standards it’s still very good. An 11,863-mile “T” model in classic colors represented with recent maintenance (timing belt, catalytic converters, radiator, hood shocks, brakes, control arm bushings), it ticks a lot of the right boxes. Not enough boxes, however, to justify the “perfect-plus” price point it achieved, at least in our eyes.
Back to our original question: is the cheap Ferrari an endangered species or is it downright extinct? Now, one sale doesn’t make the market, but this isn’t the only big-money Mondial sale lately. Six of them have sold for over 60 grand on Bring a Trailer alone in the past six months, and RM Sotheby’s sold a 5000-mile car for an eye-popping $100,100 back in March. Several have sold for surprisingly high results at European auctions this year as well. That other quintessential poor man’s Ferrari – the 400/12 – has seen its price guide value jump 28-43 percent over the past year, too.
Pretty much everything with a prancing horse badge, then, is now beyond what anybody would call “entry level.” What this means for the rest of the hobby isn’t clear, but it still seems like one of those end-of-an-era moments worth acknowledging. Let’s pour one out for the affordable Ferrari.