The car is the four-seater, mid-engine sports car that Ferrari produced in the early 1980s, the Ferrari Mondial Quattrovalvole (denoting four valves per cylinder). The location is obvious: far away, on the grounds of a palace.
We do not often think of palaces here in the United States. We have mansions, now. We also enjoy building castles for some reason. Palaces, though, with their expansive grounds and France-before-all-the-guillotine-stuff vibes sort of miss our collective imagination. We build homes as big as palaces, on grounds as big as palaces, but somehow they always come out as estates.
The grandeur of the palace also invites modern criticism. When you’re actually out there, touring Versailles or Sanssouci or wherever else, almost overcome with the opulence of a room that is covered in priceless works of art, which are mounted below a priceless mural covering the full length of the ceiling, which is gilded at its edges, a thought always sneaks into your mind. These people didn’t even have plumbing, let alone WiFi.
I guess the Mondial is similar. The very lofty heights of the Ferrari badge, of the gated manual shifter, of the cosseting leather seats, of the quad-valve, quad-cam V8, all of it brings to mind, hey, this thing is not actually any faster than my buddy’s 240SX. And the Ferrari is only marginally less likely to break down.
The expectations associated with “mid-engine Ferrari” overwhelm the Mondial, and that’s kind of a bummer. It’s a neat car in its own right, even if it’s maybe not the best Ferrari. A palace is an interesting kind of human dwelling, even if it’s not the most comfortable place to take a dump.
Can I say that this is why Ferrari rolled a Mondial out to a palace for photography back in 1982. It still feels somehow appropriate.