Subaru had specific goals when it began development of the Subaru-MM 3.5-liter, 12-cylinder F1 racing engine in cooperation with Motori Moderni of Italy. It intended to create the ultimate horizontally opposed Boxer engine through F1 competition.
Ready for testing by summer of 1989, the engine lacked enough horsepower to be competitive in F1. As development continued, Subaru Tecnica Europe (a subsidiary of Subaru Tecnica International) invested in 50 percent of the Coloni F1 team, which was then officially known as Subaru Coloni Racing SRL (a limited company in Italy).
The team’s first step: a one-car entry for the 1990 season. The first event planned by the team was the U.S. Grand Prix, held in Phoenix March 9-11, 1990.
Knowing the engine was down on power when compared to the engines of other teams, Subaru and Chiti started another engine that would be ready in the summer of 1990. Meanwhile, the 3.5-liter Boxer was to be fitted to the previous year’s Coloni chassis for the start of the season.
The resulting Subaru Coloni C3B was assembled for the first time in the pits for the Phoenix F1 race. A short practice session was arranged at Firebird International Raceway, and then the car was brought back to the track for prequalification day.
The team suffered from a number of disadvantages: Its engine developed as much as 100 fewer horsepower than the front-running F1 engines, and its chassis weighed as much as 300 pounds more than competitors’ chassis.
At Phoenix and subsequent venues, mechanical problems (gear linkages, clutches, and oil leaks) as well as crashes prevented Gachot from qualifying for a single race. In July, Subaru sold back its share of the team to Coloni.
Instead of Formula 1, Subaru went on to emphasize participation in the World Rally Championship.
But, oh, such a beautiful 12-cylinder engine, with such a sweet sound!
More Subaru performance vehicles can be found in the "attic" articles, starting with part one in Version 3.2.