Our 1984 Mondial has gone to a new home. For $23,000, a Ferrari enthusiast in Benicia, California, put it into his garage. It seemed a fair-enough price for a 53,000-mile car, in light metallic green, that was in need of its major service.
And then I did something no owner of an exotic car should do.
I totaled up the cost of my ownership and translated it into dollars (not cents) per mile. It's not a pretty picture.
In January of 2002, when I bought the car, it had 48,000 miles on it. I paid $28,000, which was significantly below the asking price. During the next 15 months, I spent $4,586 for a variety of miscellaneous repairs, along with $1,200 on a set of XWX tires from Coker. The assessment of the technicians at Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo was that my Mondial (which they affectionately referred to as "Kermit") was a good one, and that the repairs were not atypical.
When I sold the car, it had 54,128 miles on it. So during the approximately 480 days I owned it, it traveled 6,128 miles, for a total cost, including maintenance and depreciation, of $10,786. Or, $1.76 per mile. George Lampus, an SCM subscriber in Portland who owns a 400i five-speed-so he is no stranger to an imbalance between costs and vehicle value-suggested that I look at it as a rental. For just $22.47 per day, I got to drive an open Ferrari.
Did the car have to be this expensive? No. Here's what I did wrong: First, when I bought the car, I didn't check the tires. Second, I didn't calculate the time interval for the major service. The car had its belts replaced at 37,759 miles. So by mileage, I had until 67,759 before the service was due.
But the timing belts in the entire 308/328 series, including Mondials, are made of rubber and deteriorate with age as well as miles. Ferrari recommends you replace the belts every five years or 30,000 miles. As the major service had been done on October 17, 1997, when I bought the car it was just nine months away from reaching that service interval.
If I had been thinking rationally when I bought the car-instead of being totally caught up in my own light green metallic mist (red Mondials have always looked a little bit like Popsicles on parade to me)-I would have reduced my offer by $5,000. I know that the seller wouldn't have accepted it, and I would have moved on.
But if I had moved on, what would I have missed? I would have missed the great drive back from San Francisco, where I got the car, up Highway 1 with my good friend Steve Sargent. I would have missed blasting out of Eureka as the sun was coming up, and feeling how the Mondial liked to lope along at 90 mph through the mist. I would have missed the thrills of trying to control its tail-wagging through a surprise patch of snow.
An open four-seat Ferrari is a kid-friendly car. One memory that lingers is a sunny afternoon summer drive, from Portland to our beach house in Neskowin, about 90 miles away. The top was down, and our 11-year-old, Alexandra, and a friend were in the back seat, giggling the way only pre-teenage girls can.
We took Highway 18 to the coast, and then swung off onto the Valley Junction Highway. Lightly traveled and full of medium-speed curves, it's a sports-car delight. As we maintained an average speed of 70 mph, the girls put their arms up in the air as if they were on a roller coaster, and squealed with delight as we went around each turn. The Mondial behaved like a proper Ferrari. It was glued to the road, the gearbox shifted precisely and the engine made all the right four-cam V8 sounds as it ran to redline in second, third and fourth gears.
So is all of that worth $22 a day, or $1.70 a mile? While my fiscally responsible side recoils in horror, my emotional side says yes. Quality seat time is hard to come by, and the Mondial provided over 6,000 miles of it for me and my family.
Proving that we've learned nothing of financial significance from this vehicular hemorrhaging, now my spouse, SCM Managing Editor Cindy Banzer, has informed me that she thinks it's her turn to own a Ferrari, preferably a 1985 308 GTS QV. She likes blue.
I asked if that meant we were going to sell her much-beloved 1978 Alfa Spider, and she replied thoughtfully, "Since we always lose money when we sell cars, I think we'll just keep it."
She'll be looking for a recently serviced 308, with good rubber, no stories and a proper history. If you've got one that's priced right, [email protected] is the way to reach her. It looks like my 365 GTC/4 is going to have to wait.
We have decided on the car for our June trip up the AlCan Highway from Portland to Anchorage. Worrying that a TR6 might not quite be up to it, we're in the hunt for a '92 or later Corvette C4 coupe, with the LT-1 engine and a manual gearbox. Our budget is $15,000; e-mail me at [email protected] with any offerings or thoughts.


We've added a new department, "SCM Picks." Each month, we'll focus on collectors, their garages, museums and vintage events we think you'll find of interest. Send any suggestions to [email protected].


"Competing for the Looks," by Argentinean artist Jorge Garcia, is the title of this month's cover art. The car is a 1934 Packard, and the woman, according to the artist, represents, "the charm and beauty of all women and their affinity with the beautiful shapes of classic cars."
García has been painting automobiles for more than 20 years. His painting, "The History of F1," is on permanent display at the Juan M. Fangio Museum in Balcarce, Argentina.
Garcia created posters for the Transchaco and Argentine Rallies. He has shown his work at Meadow Brook, where he won the Award of Excellence in 1998 and 2002, and Pebble Beach.
The original of "Competing for the Looks, " acrylic and gouache on board, measuring 19x24 inches, is in Garcia's possession and is for sale.
Prints may be available in the near future. For information go to www.jorgegarcia.com.ar.

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