Stop Hating On The Ferrari Mondial

It's the Maranello monster that Ferrari purists hate, but they shouldn't. No one should.

It's a Ferrari even the most devoted tifosi love to hate. That would be the Mondial, a V-8-powered 2+2 that endured for 13 years of production, from 1980 to 1993. During that time, the company moved more than 6,000 Mondial coupes and cabriolets, mostly in red, black, silver, or blue. Ferrari purists protested its pedestrian looks and downmarket positioning. Eventually, they forgot it was there.

The Mondial emerged on paper as Italian design firm Pininfarina was returning to the graces of Enzo Ferrari, who'd recently wrapped a minor dalliance with rival Bertone. Unlike the similar 308, the Mondial wears the tension of a form-follows-function design brief like a badge of geek honor. It's unsettling to look at. It exists in the uncanny valley of vehicle design.

From the outset, the Mondial was created to be a usable Ferrari that any mortal mechanic could service, and that could give the Porsche 911 a lesson in rear-seat legroom. Over the years, it just kept getting better, just like another ill-remembered 1980s design icon, the Pontiac Fiero.

The Mondial is a car that both endears and alienates. It's the Ferrari for people who don't wear Ferrari gear. It's a car for people who put ketchup on hot dogs, and who wouldn't think twice about listening to Frank Zappa's "Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch" while watching a sport played with a stick but no ball. It's a beautiful disaster. It's a masterpiece.