Ah, the Ferrari Mondial. Often vilified and referred to as “Ferrari’s Porsche”, the Mondial is one of the least loved cars to bear the Prancing Horse emblem. Something about it caused it to be regarded as slightly limp-wristed compared to other Modenese products, perhaps its styling, which had neither the delicate curves nor exuberant excess of its stablemates.
It’s one of my favourites. And why not? It’s basically a more spacious 308, and there’s nothing much wrong with one of those. Road testers in the buff books tended to agree – few reviewers had anything negative to say about the 2+2 Ferrari.
Compared to other Ferraris it was also largely ignored by model makers. But not totally. Here’s a nice one.
Feel free to click and enlarge the images if you fancy zooming in to change the cambelt.
This is the only Hotwheels Elite model in my collection, and it puts me in a bit of a quandry.
Lets take a look at it first, and discuss later.
Firstly, I reckon it looks spot-on. It represents the Mondial 8, the earliest of the breed, before the 328-style front grille was added which, in my opinion, was a huge improvement over the rather bland visage that it ran with until the mid-80s. It accurately represents the slightly awkward look that plagued the Mondial when viewed from the rear three quarters – as if the sections in front and behind the doors didn’t belong to the same car.
The proportions are right and the paintwork is good, although I can’t quite decide whether the doors are a very slightly different shade to the rest of the car. A couple of the shut-lines are a little on the wide side, though its nice to see that the doors are hinged in such a way that they don’t swing open on massive dog-legs.
I have to say, though, it’s not the most precise casting I’ve ever seen – some of the crease lines are a little indistinct and-paint filled. It’s also a real shame that there are no functional pop-up headlamps.
Detailing is nice, too. The silver Pininfarina, Ferrari and Mondial badges are all photo-etched and are applied straight and true. The wheels are nicely cast, although the wheel bolts are a touch indistinct and cheesy. It’s nice to see that Hotwheels made the effort to depict discs and calipers behind the wheels, even though the small wheel vent holes make them hard to see. They are there, though. You’ll have to trust me on that.
My favourite feature on the outside of the car is the engine intake grilles, which really are beautifully done, featuring not just the oh-so distinctive strakes but also the secondary mesh further in. In fact, all the mesh on the car is to the same high standard; they are all properly perforated and allow the shiny details that lurk behind to glint through.
The detailing continues inside, especially where the dashboard and steering wheel are concerned. The seats aren’t bad, but are very obviously single plastic mouldings, albeit from a soft, pliable plastic. There are genuine fabric seatbelts, too, with tiny metallic buckles.
There are carpets, too, and you know what, only looking at these photos did I notice that there are floor mats for the front seats, too. A look at the ceiling reveals that they even detailed the grab handles separately and included front and rear interior lights with clear plastic lenses. That’s impressive attention to detail.
It continues under the bonnet, or hood, or engine cover or whatever. The transverse mounted three-litre V8 is there in full effect, intricately wired and dressed with photo-etched Ferrari badges. There’s a chassis plate which is probably legible if I find a magnifying glass, and the hose to the airbox is clamped into position with a tiny, bright jubilee clamp. Finally, they’ve even had a stab at representing the insulating material on the firewall.
Oh, the trunklid opens separately, too, and the trunk is carpet-lined, but I forgot to photograph it.ch
So what’s my quandry?
Well, firstly there are a few QC issues. The bumper has a slight flaw in the moulding above the left front light, likewise the beautifully made front grille seems to have become mis-shaped during production. The same has happened to the slatted grille above the headlights, which isn’t glued down flush at one side. These are niggles which shouldn’t have slipped through on what Hotwheels touted as a higher-end model.
But my beef really is what constitutes a Hotwheels Elite model. This feels just like what it essentially is; a budget model tarted up with a bunch of extra detail. I particularly dislike that the rear wheels are attached by a long metal bar right through the rear of the car, which slops from side to side. You don’t even get that on a Maisto, even if that company’s ‘working suspension’ is a bit lame.
To me, an ‘Elite’ model should be ‘Elite’ from the ground up. Rather than charging money for extra detail, they should get the fundamentals right first. Fit pop-up headlamps. Make the casting a bit sharper. For goodness sake have a go at acknowledging the presence of some kind of chassis.
It’s a really nice model and I like it immensely, I just wish had more depth beyond all the surface dressing.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2016)