Have you driven a Ford or Holden that’s less than half a century old? If so, before that car made it to the showroom and then eventually to your good self, the first models of its type off the production line would have gone through testing, just to make sure everything was tickety-boo. But we're not talking about a couple of spins round the block and a “She’ll be right mate.” On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth.
Australia’s first automotive testing and development complex was Lang Lang, 95 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. The 2167 acre site was purchased by Holden in 1955 with the first testing of the FC in 1957. Still in operation, Lang Lang runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week apart from public holidays. The high security facility consists of 44 kilometres of roads, consisting of every conceivable road condition, from the high speed banked ring road to skid pans and ride and handling tracks with different levels of surface, grip and road noise. And those roads and tracks have been well used, with over 111 million kilometres of testing being accumulated over the years. The recent VF Commodore had racked up over 1.1 million kilometres of testing alone. Besides the massive network of test roads is also Australia’s most comprehensive vehicle safety and emissions laboratory.
Ford’s version of its vehicle proving ground lies near the You Yangs, 55 kilometres to the south-west of Melbourne. The 2300 acre site which began operation in 1965 consists of over 80 kilometres of the same type of torturous roads and tracks found at Lang Lang. Cobblestones, corrugations and Belgian blocks are par for the course along with a low speed track, a high speed ride and handling course and sealed and unsealed gradients and skid pans. The fun continues with a salt and mud bath, an environmental exposure area, crash test site, climatic test chambers, anechoic dyno chamber, high speed wind tunnel and finally, an emissions testing laboratory. And what proving ground would be complete without a high speed test road? Well, Ford has that covered too with a 4.8 kilometer high speed circuit.
So next time you take your pride and joy for a ride, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that it’s been well and truly put through its paces before getting anywhere near a dealership showroom.