Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Proving Ground at Lang Lang

For many people, their only knowledge of Lang Lang is that it is the home of the General Motors-Holden Proving Ground. The Proving Ground was opened in 1957 to carry out automotive testing and development. A vehicle safety laboratory also operates on the site, though the employees probably look a bit different from these two men shown in a 1960 advertisement.

Advertisement from Port of Melbourne Quarterly, July-September, 1960. Page 32.

Before the Proving Ground was opened, the cars were tested on the open roads. However due to increased traffic, the need for various surfaces for the testing and the need for security to test prototype vehicles, GMH saw the advantage of a private testing facility. They looked for land within a 50 mile (80km) radius of the city which was both flat and hilly and found suitable land just out of Lang Lang. The 2,167 acres (877 hectares) was purchased in 1955. From 1957, the Proving Ground has tested every Holden from the FC model onwards.

According to the Lang Lang town community website, since operations began in 1957, Holden test drivers and engineers have clocked up over 111 million kilometres in evaluating prototype, pre-production and current production vehicles on the Proving Ground's varied road system. A total of 454 cars have made the one-way, 100 metre journey into its concrete crash barrier.

Advertisement from Port of Melbourne Quarterly, January-March, 1966. Page 10. If you are unsure what they do at a Proving Ground, click on this image to enlarge it, and it will tell you.

The Proving Ground has a circular, banked high-speed track, a network of ride and handling roads, rough tracks, a twist course, a "rattle and squeak" track, dust road, test hills, a skid pad as well as mud and water baths. These roads and tracks take up only a small part of the land. The majority of the site is still natural bushland and is a fauna and flora habitat, with over 53 bird species recorded and 140 plant species.

Advertisement from Port of Melbourne Quarterly April-June 1966. Page 40, showing an aerial view of the Complex.

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