The Eighties were a golden era in Formula 1 with more teams vying for the grid spots than could fit. You had pre-qualifying and then qualifying to try get in the race and there would regularly be half a dozen or more cars having to just park back up in the transporter and head home before the race even started.
One of those eternally rubbish F1 teams was the Italian outfit Coloni formed in 1982 for single-seater series before stepping up to the big time with an F1 team in 1987. They lasted until 1991, and during that time they tried qualifying 82 times and managed to get into the race just 14 times. Coloni really thought they hit the big time for the 1990 season, when they managed to get them a works factory deal with a Japanese company and free engines to boot — that company however turned out to be Subaru, who did a 12-cylinder flat engine for the team that sounded rather great, but that’s about it.
Subaru not only bought into the team but also paid off their debts, so all seemed dandy, except the engine was woefully down on power making about half of what the best engines were producing, and the flat cylinder arrangement meant a rejigging of other components so Coloni ended up with a car overweight by more than 100 kilos. Even though the flat-12 had the genius of ex Ferrari and Alfa Romeo engineer Carlo Chiti behind it, the car never pre-qualified for a single race and the shambles went on behind the scenes as the new majority-owner Subaru, and the team’s founder Enzo Coloni, grappled for control of basically nothing.
Subaru never returned to top-level open-wheeler racing and learnt an important lesson, which was mainly to stick to the forests and dirt roads of the world rally championship.