There is a Ferrari that felt the caresses of fame for an emblematic Hollywood movie scene: it was driven by Colonel Frank Slade through the streets of Brooklyn, accompanied by Charlie Simms. The soldier, blind, was the role that gave Al Pacino the only Oscar of his career. His co-pilot in the movie essence of woman It was Chris O’Donnell. They were aboard a Mondial 8, considered by brand purists to be the worst Ferrari in history. But, strikingly, it was one of the Prancing Horse models that was in production and on sale the longest: 13 years.
It was manufactured between 1980 and 1993. It was launched on the market after a fateful decade for luxury brands, because the 70s were marked by the Oil Crisis that broke out in 1973, when the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf made the decision not to export fuels. to those states that supported Israel. It was a time of reduction of engines because gasoline was scarce, which also brought a turning point in the market, with the appearance in the West of many of Japan’s compact models.
Ferrari, which came from its golden age with the great models of the 1960s (the 250 GTO and the 275 GTB, two of its most impressive cars in history), had to readapt, because strong competition from Lamborghini had also arisen. In 1973 the Dino GT4 appeared, its first sports car with a V8 engine. And in 1980 the Mondial 8 saw the light, which was called pejoratively as the “Ferrari of the poor”. With a more austere engine in displacement and power, it promised to be within the reach of the classes that saw this car as an aspirational object.
Its birth also had the ambition of becoming a vehicle so durable that it aimed to become the best-selling model in its history. The production number, encrypted in 6149, placed it among the most prolific Ferrari models, but it was below other more impressive ones from the same 80s, such as the Testarossa, which, due to its sharp character, exceeded seven thousand units. But the most important thing is that it became the object of desire of celebrities, such as Diego Maradona or Michael Jordan. We refer to the Testarossa, not the Mondial 8…
How was the worst Ferrari in history
The Dino, designed by Bertone in the early 1970s, had to be replaced. To do this, they delegated Pininfarina to develop the shapes of the new Ferrari. The work was done by Leonardo Fioravanti, the same one who had been behind the Berlinetta Boxer. Don Enzo’s health was already beginning to falter as a result of a kidney condition that led to his death in 1988, when he had already turned 90 years old.
The one who was active at the head of the company was Piero, the bastard son that Il Commendatore had in a furtive relationship with Lina Lardi, whom he finally recognized over the years. His first son, Alfredino, died very young, barely 24 years old, in 1956, and was the reason for the mourning recorded in the black glasses that accompanied Don Enzo until the end of his days. There was a Ferrari Dino, but there never was a Ferrari Piero.
In any case, his second son approved the Mondial 8 project, which bore that name as a tribute to the South African Jody Scheckter, who in 1979 had become Formula 1 champion with the Scuderia. Finally, it was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980. At the Swiss show that year, the Renault Fuego and the Audi Quattro were also launched, among other historic cars.
The Italian model, with a longer wheelbase than the Dino GT4, was a four-seater coupé. It was equipped with a three-liter V8 that delivered 214 horses. It was the vehicle with which the brand once again made its way into the United States market, where, however, it had worse performance (204 hp). To this was added (or subtracted) that it weighed a ton and a half. Thus, the V8 allowed him to reach 230 kilometers per hour.
The sports car had numerous electronic failures that played against it; the smell of burning cable coming out of the engine compartment was a constant. The design, with more straight lines and launched that followed the seventies lines, did not please the purists who clung to the most harmonious classics of the early years of the brand, between the 50s and 60s.
The most popular profile that was attempted to give him led to his being defined as “the first world car Ferrari”, or even as a “democratic supercar”. It was more accessible than the rest of the range, although its price was far from being for the people: 64,000 base dollars, equivalent to about 160,000 today. It was sold in coupe and convertible versions. It had redesigns in 1982, 1985 and 1989, until it disappeared in 1993.
The most curious innovation that premiered the latest manufactured version of the Mondial 8 was an automated manual transmission that had the usual manual gear lever, which had to be operated in the traditional way, but lacked a clutch pedal, since it was automatic.
The model was created so that it could have the benefits of a sports car and the habitability of a sedan. But there was no innovation, price or number of sales that would get Ferrari tasters out of their heads that it was not up to the brand’s history. Magazine Time included it in the list of the 50 worst cars in history.
“It didn’t help the Mondial’s reputation that it was one of the ‘cheap’ Ferraris within the reach of a reasonably successful orthodontist. The generations that followed him improved it quite a bit just because that experiment could hardly be made worse, “said the aforementioned media. It is the only Ferrari on the magazine’s list.
These days it can be had for prices even lower than it was in the 1980s. In 2021, Briton Chris Harris, star of Top Gear, bought a Mondial 3.2 quattrovalvole Cabriolet for $29,000.
He was left with Al Pacino’s Oscar and that Pope John Paul II, when he visited Maranello in 1988, chose him to take a lap on the Fiorano track.