Holden's Lang Lang (Vic) proving ground, Australia's first automotive testing and development complex, passed a forty-year milestone in September.
The Lang Lang facility, which houses Australia's most comprehensive vehicle safety laboratory, has put to test every Holden from the FC to the recently released Commodore VT. It lies 95 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, operates 24 hours a day, and ranks among the world's most extensive vehicle proving grounds.
Since operations began in 1957, Holden test drivers and engineers have clocked up over 111 million kilometres, 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.
Holden's Allan George, a 38-year Lang Lang veteran and now Senior Group Leader for Durability, vividly recalls driving FCs and FB prototypes around the mostly unsealed roads when he began as a night shift driver in 1959. "Only two of the cars had radios and only one was equipped with a heater. We wore overcoats, scarves and hats to handle the cold and we often got bogged, but I enjoyed every minute of it," he said.
"Back then, our garage and performance measuring equipment was basic, to say the least; it's a world away from the high-tech gear we use today. So are the cars, of course. We've produced a lot of great vehicles over the years, but to my mind, this VT Commodore sets a new standard. Right through the testing process, it bettered every benchmark," Allan George said.
The 877 hectare Lang Lang property was purchased by Holden in 1955. Within its security-fenced boundaries are 44 kilometres of sealed and unsealed road systems, some designed for performance and high-speed testing, others for specific and general durability testing. There is a circular, banked high-speed track (which received a $1.2 million facelift in 1992), 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.
Holden's safety laboratory at the proving ground, home to an extended family of fully instrumented GM crash test dummies, incorporates a full compliance barrier facility and an advanced Hyge sled used for crash simulation tests.
A state-of-the-art emissions laboratory has the capacity to conduct a wide range of vehicle exhaust emission tests for certification to Australian and international regulatory requirements.