Subaru’s racing efforts are renowned by enthusiasts far and wide, as the underdog Japanese brand scored legions of fans—and championships—during the 1990s and 2000s as one of the dominant players in World Rally Championship (WRC) competition. (Its wide lineup in the Gran Turismo PlayStation game series didn’t hurt, either.) In short order, four-wheel drifting glory became a key part of its identity, fostering tons of press and boosting global sales of the company’s all-wheel-drive turbo sedans and wagons.
Far less ink has been spilled about the automaker’s less successful bid to shine in the context of a different motorsports institution. In fact, well before rally ever entered the picture, Subaru was determined to highlight its engineering prowess and turn the heads of enthusiasts who had largely written off the quirky brand—by cracking the ranks of Formula 1.
To get started, all it needed was an engine. Unfortunately, that powerplant turned