The Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet occupied a unique niche in the luxuxy car market: a four-seat mid-engine Cabriolet with pedigree. The improved Mondial T received a 296-hp, 3405 cc V8 engine mounted longitudinally in the frame. Along with a new engine came a completely new five-speed transmission, electronically controlled variable suspension, and a three-position manual suspension selector. Top speed was 158 mph and the 0 to 100 km/h sprint could be covered in 6.3 seconds.

The French-registered Mondial T pictured here has been cherished throughout its life, having covered just 36,700 km. The 40,000-km service was carried out by French importer Charles Pozzi last April at a cost of $7,500. Finished in Rosso Corsa with a black leather interior, the car is fitted with new tires and also has ABS and power steering. The vendor described it as “excellent” in every aspect.

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The above-described Ferrari was recently sold by the Brooks auction house at Nürburgring, Germany for $25,603, which included buyer’s premium.

It seems our fellow European Ferraristi care less about the Mondial Cabriolet market than we Americans do; is that possible? Low mileage, late model, just serviced, traditional colors—why the lukewarm interest generating a low hammer price, at least $20,000 below what we’d expect to retail a Mondial Cab for over here?

For VW Passat money, was this a deal or correct fair market value? Let’s talk.

In my humble, and admittedly biased opinion, being fair to the Mondial Cabriolet is sort of like trying to understand how a White House intern with the mental power of a Crosley Hot Shot could seduce the President of the United States. Well, as they say, there is a bottom for every seat.

Before you Prancing Horse owners start cringing and calling for me to be burned in effigy at the next Mondial owners club meeting (assuming the electrical systems don’t bug out and they are actually able to get there), I’ll point out the practical positive attributes of a Mondial. In a bigger effort to be fair, I’ll even go ahead and admit that the buyer at the ’Ring seems to have gotten an okay deal.

With nicely balanced brakes and suspension, a pedal box suited for perfect heel-and-toeing, a cab-forward design and reasonably decent power, these mid-engine rides can be fun with the top down and the bugs in your teeth. If you’re in luck, you’ll never have to raise the top (note the subtle hint about the top mechanism). You can stuff li’l Biff and cutesie Mandy in the back and travel with luggage for an extended period—option boxes rarely found on an exotic car order form. And the exhaust note of the Mondial Cabriolet demonstrates perfectly how a Ferrari should sound. However, from my perspective, that’s it. That’s all you get.

The virtues do not outweigh the vices, and the vices usually come calling with large and expensive repair orders.

Miserable convertible top design, temperamental electronics, interior ergonomics from the Bert and Ernie school of engineering, expensive servicing and overall mediocre build quality do not make for an easy car to sell. I haven’t even begun to hammer on the boring exterior design.

Two franchised Ferrari dealers (who shall remain nameless) refuse to stock these cars under any conditions because of the fear of what they will have to warranty. Give these cars five more years and, like the owners of Land Rover Discoverys, you may need to start carrying a canvas bag to collect all the pieces the car constantly sheds. That may seem harsh and somewhat unfair, but I take the franchised dealer comments as a clear warning about this road-going Andrea Doria.

If you’re truly interested in buying a Mondial, you would be well-advised to read Winston Goodfellow’s article in the November 1999 issue of Forza, the quintessential puff magazine for Ferrari owners and wannabes. Read between the lines of his well-researched faint praise and muse about your decision.

Here’s the point: If you take the Ferrari badge off, you possess a very forgettable car.

—Steve Serio

Counterpoint: All Ferraris have their quixotic moments. If you want to have a true high-performance, open, affordable exotic with room for a couple of small kids, your list will have only one car on it, the Mondial Cabriolet. So what if you have an electrical gremlin now and then? So what if the top is hard to put up? If you want a stupid, boring car that never gives you problems, buy a Chevy Cavalier rag top. If I were presented with a nicely kept, low-mileage Mondial Cabriolet for $25,000, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I suspect Mr. Serio would as well, if only to resell it for a $10,000 profit.—ED.

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