HONGKONG Ferrari distributors, Italian Motors, has acquired the world's first right-hand drive production Ferrari Valeo Mondial t Cabriolet. ''Valeo'' refers to a new automatic clutch. It is a system that is innovative and effective - yet simple. It revolutionises Ferrari driving and has implications for the rest of the motoring industry. Using experience gained from its pioneering work with semi-automatic transmissions in Formula One racing, Ferrari has been able to produce a super car with many of the benefits of an automatic gearbox but none of the disadvantages. The new Mondial drives through a normal manual gearbox and has all the performance of a manual gearbox car, but without a manual clutch. There are only two pedals on the floor of the car, the brake and accelerator. Gears are selected using a normal floor-mounted stick working through the classic exposed metal gate. The clutch is actuated by a small electric motor similar to those used to power windscreen wipers, and aided by a compensating spring. Whenever the gear stick is moved, the clutch is disengaged until the lever is home in the next slot, making it impossible to crunch a gear change. Unlike conventional automatic cars, the Ferrari auto-clutch does nothing to detract from the performance of the car. The Valeo clutch-equipped Mondial is actually quicker in most hands than the standard manual car. The clutch disengagement time is just one-tenth of a second, with engagement time governed by sensors that respond to throttle opening, engine rotation and the gear selected. The driver can take off from a standstill softly, with only a whisper of throttle, or rev the engine hard before selecting first gear and spinning the tyres with the full 300-brake horsepower of the V-8 engine. Stepping in to the Mondial for the first time is a little bewildering and it is best to tuck the left foot under the seat to keep it from trying to press an imagined clutch lever. But, once accustomed to the system, driving is easy and uncomplicated. No one can pretend that the Ferrari gear-shift is as easy as a normal car. It requires a firm hand and practice to find the way through the metal slots and has always been daunting to the newcomer. But now there can be no grating of gears by inexperienced drivers, the automatic clutch ensures perfect engagement. In traffic, the Valeo clutch disengages when the throttle is lifted and there is none of the creep forward that is found with a conventional automatic transmission. The Valeo Mondial t sits still until the throttle is pressed, then the engagement of the clutch can be felt just behind the driver, and the car moves forward with all the precision and control of a normal manual clutch car. The Valeo Mondial t costs $1,990,000. But the auto-clutch works so well it is probably only a matter of time until it becomes available on more modest and affordable motor cars.