The late ’80s were a boom time for the Japanese economy. Car companies expanded with luxury branding schemes like Toyota’s Lexus brand, powerful sports cars like the Acura NSX, and factory racing teams.
After seeing other Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha enter Formula 1, Subaru also decided to become an engine supplier too, partnering with Motori Moderni. The firm’s owner Carlo Chiti was previously chief engineer at the successful Alfa Romeo F1 team, providing Subaru some measure of confidence for a successful project.
Subaru had built its reputation on the superiority of the ‘boxer’ engine, with flat-4 and flat-6 engines in its road cars. The plan was to build a 3.5L, naturally aspirated, flat-12, called the Subaru 1235,; the pinnacle of boxer engines.
Howling flat-12 engines powered Ferrari to championships in the ’70s, but the Subaru 1235 was heavy, underpowered, and uncompetitive. The Coloni Subaru C3B race car failed to qualify for the first 8 grand prix of the 1990 season, and the Subaru 1235 engine was shelved.