GM Holden’s proving ground at Lang Lang has just
celebrated its 50th anniversary.
GM Holden’s Executive Director of Engineering Tony
Hyde said: “Lang Lang has played a key role in the development and success of GM
Holden since its earliest days.
“Having a world class testing facility has been
integral in enabling Holden to develop generations of vehicles able to withstand
the uniquely challenging Australian driving conditions.”
Located 95 kilometres south east of Melbourne, the
877 hectare site was Australia’s first automotive testing and development
complex and has been the testing ground for every Holden from the FC to the
recently released VE Ute.
Behind the security fencing, more than 4.5 million
kilometres are driven under test each year where prototype, pre-production and
current production vehicles are tested on a variety of sealed and unsealed
surfaces designed to replicate real world conditions.
The 44 kilometres of road systems are designed for
specific and general durability testing as well as performance and high speed
testing. This includes a banked 4.7km high speed track, a twist course, a noise
road for noise and vibration development, a rattle and squeak track, tests hills
and a skid pan.
The proving ground also houses a safety test
laboratory which is home to an extended family of state-of-the-art fully
instrumented test dummies and has an airbag test and development capability.
A range of collision types can be reproduced at
Lang Lang’s full compliance SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) barrier
facility where cars are winched towards a 76 tonne concrete barrier at speeds of
up to 90 km/h.
The proving ground’s emissions laboratory is
capable of conducting a wide range of exhaust emission tests for certifying
vehicles to Australian and international regulatory requirements.
Purchased by GM Holden in 1956, Lang Lang
commenced operations in 1957 and is the lead test facility for General Motors in
the Asia Pacific region.
But rather than go on and on about it, we thought
we’d treat you to this wealth of historic pics...
The high speed loop.
The 1963 EH Holden range on the high speed
One of the prettiest Commodores never produced was
2000’s ECOmmodore (see
Holden's Green Car).
Unfortunately, all the driving it ever did was here...
Back in the early days indeed, with some 1958 FC
Holdens on display.
Yes, that is the speed loop – still dirt! An
amazing pic, but – rightly so – Holden engineers of the time probably thought
high speed dirt was pretty damn relevant to Australians...
The Holden Hurricane of May 1969 represented
Holden’s forward thinking – but apart from the Australian-designed V8 (available
in 253 and 308 cid versions), nothing else Hurricane found its way into Holden
An HQ Holden prototype – probably from 1970 – sent
to the wall. Note the outside crash testing facility and the structural
integrity of the cabin – although we don’t know the impact speed.
Emissions testing, where the driver needs to
follow a monitor trace that shows required speed. We’re sure that Holden test
drivers never bothered leaning out of the cabin like this – but it’s good for
Was the handbrake yanked on or was this the result
of a massive throttle lift? Holden testing the dirt road handling of an early
The HK Holden range on the speed loop, 1968....
...and the LH Torana models, 1974.
A VB Commodore – the first Commodore – being
inspected after a frontal impact test. The test facility is still outside. Note
the banks of (switched off) lights and the bicycle wheel speed monitoring
But all was not speed loop or crashes. Here an HX
GTS model undergoes the water splash test – with more mud than water. The year
would have been about 1975.
The Torana GTR-X was another Holden that never
made it. Shown publicly in August 1970, the car even reached the stage of having
journalists drive it. But it was not to be – something that with the market
success of the Datsun 240Z, may have been the wrong decision.
Was the high speed test loop used more for
publicity pics or testing? Here are three VB Commodores in 1978. Note the
headlights wipers of the SLE – you won’t find them on a VE Commodore!
Without a doubt, the most beautiful car ever sold
by Holden was the Monaro. Even in this image, the absolute grace of the shape
still shows through...
The sign says “16.0% hill” – and that’s pretty
steep. The year would have been about 1958.
More a publicity shot than one of testing, but the
kangaroo crash test dummy was apparently also used in real crash testing – like
Saab use a make-believe moose...
Side impact testing of the Statesman and...
...rough road testing by one Peter Brock in the 1984
The photo’s captioned by Holden as the “65 litre
airbag test’ and we’d assume it’s from the early Nineties.
And bringing things right up to the present,
here’s the VE Commodore undergoing testing at Lang Lang.
Sincere congratulations to Holden for the work
that’s been done over the 50 years.