Editor’s note: Adrian Clarke is a car designer, writer, and author of Hagerty’s Vision Thing series. He’s got a thing for the Fiat Panda, but his choice of classic comes in slightly higher up the Italian car food chain…
01 February, 2023: Custom exhaust plays all the right sounds
I failed to mention in my introduction to Ferrari Mondial ownership that I don’t have a garage. I have a lock up where the car is stored but you’d have to be Mr Tickle to attempt any kind of spannering in there. Small stuff I could do myself outside the house, but bigger problems would require the attention of a specialist who actually knows what they’re doing. The coolant leak I figured I should at least be able to locate, if not fix it myself.
Armed with a digital copy of the service manual and a free afternoon, a couple of hours squeezing and pulling hot hoses resulted in nothing but a burnt finger. Coolant was leaking from somewhere, because the Mondial was doing a good impression of a boiling kettle whilst stationary at the lights. What I really needed to do was get it up on a ramp and have a proper look at the hoses that ran from the radiator in the nose down the spine of the car.
Because solving one problem at a time isn’t enough of a challenge, I found myself investigating a second issue a few days later. One of the quirks with Mondials (in fact all the early mid-engined V8 Ferraris) is the exhaust note is a bit apologetic. Designed when noise and emissions regulations where beginning to be something OEMs had to pay attention to, the standard exhaust is pretty muted and not especially musical. There is an off-the-shelf alternative available from Superformance for just under a grand, but some internet sleuthing suggested that didn’t sound brilliant either. Then I discovered the InfluEnzo on YouTube, whose owner Nick had a custom exhaust made up by Ryan Edwards at Bicester Heritage.
When I dropped the car off Ryan kindly agreed to get the Mondial up on his ramp straight away so we could have a good poke around underneath. Looking at the standard system Ryan explained the tips were essentially mini-silencers which is why it was so quiet. The coolant leak however remained elusive. I left the car to have new pipework welded up based on the one made for the InfluEnzo – the Mondial and 308 being basically the same car under the skin.
A couple of days and a ridiculously expensive rail journey later I found myself standing outside Edwards’ workshop grinning like an idiot at how much better it sounded. Not antisocial but bassy enough to turn heads, with a rumble on the overrun. Perfect – and it cost essentially the same as the off-the-shelf alternative I’d seen. As Ryan talked me through his work and I mucked about revving it up and listening, another mechanic emerged from a neighbouring workshop.
“That sounds wicked, but you realise it’s misfiring!”
“Oh yeah I noticed that when I ran it up the road for a test drive” confirmed Ryan.
28 February, 2023: Radio goes ga ga
The list of problems so far: A small coolant leak requiring a check on fluid levels before each drive. A stereo that only played out of one speaker. A non-functioning fuel gauge. An LCD clock with a couple of faulty segments. And now, an engine misfire.
In my defence it didn’t feel like the car was not revving out properly or struggling to pull. The only other Ferrari I had driven at the time was my best friend’s 456, so I didn’t really have anything to compare it against. I would have thought I’m mechanically sympathetic enough to feel if the engine wasn’t firing properly, but clearly not. Given I had been unable to solve the coolant problem, and investigating the fuel gauge would necessitate dropping the tank out, it was time to make sure the American Express balance was paid off and call in some professional help.
The independent Ferrari specialist closest to where I live is Migliore Cars, in Bromsgrove. They explained the fuel gauge sender units were no longer available. It might be possible to adapt a different sender or repair the existing one, but neither of these options was likely to result in an entirely accurate reading. Reasoning that somewhat working was a lot better than not working at all, I booked the car in for a couple of weeks time. I turned my attention to the next most pressing issue, the stereo.
Thoughts about a period-correct upgrade had been rolling around my head, like the quintessentially 1980s 7000 series Alpine with its distinctive six-white-button design, but like everything from that era they’re now extremely collectable and I’d be rolling the dice on getting a working unit. The Pioneer KE-4300 in the car was fitted by the supplying dealer when the car was new (complete with Ferrari branding) but is a traditional shaft fitment which would necessitate hacking about the centre console to get a DIN unit in there, which I didn’t want to do. Which meant it was time to investigate why I was only getting sound from one speaker.
The matching Pioneer speakers are mounted from inside the door trim, which meant all that had to be removed for access. Here’s a revelation for you. There’s nothing mystical about old Ferraris – they come apart with screws and nuts and bolts just like anything else. Sitting in a partly disassembled Ferrari interior with the stereo hanging out of the console, swapping the speaker outputs over revealed that one channel was definitely dead and the fault lay with the head unit and not the speakers or wiring. Still, at least I knew how to take the door trim apart. This would become useful information in time…
I emailed all the vintage radio repair specialists in my bookmarks (I have a small collection including a sweet Sony stack system gifted to me by a friend who owns a Ferrari 456). All they wanted to do was gut the Pioneer and fit a Bluetooth module inside the case. [Give this a read if you’re stuck for reputable radio repairers – Ed] Maybe television has given us unrealistic expectations as to repairability but I wanted to preserve originality. I could swap the Ferrari branded faceplate over to another Pioneer if I could find one, but again the problem would be finding a working unit at a reasonable cost.
Eventually I stumbled across Nova Electronics, in Sheffield, who said they would be happy to take a look. Except I couldn’t post them the Pioneer yet because it was still in the car, which had since gone off to Migliore in Bromsgrove.
I was doing the right repairs, just not in the right order.Tweet to @adrianfclarke Follow @adrianfclarke
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