Founding of the test center
At the time, the circular track with lanes for cars and trucks, the dynamic platform for cars and the watchtower were in place.
Niki Lauda tests a six-wheeled Formula One Ferrari
The Ferrari 312 T2 tested by Niki Lauda on the circular track on March 13th, 1977 was a unique prototype. With the aim of improving the car‘s aerodynamics, the Ferrari was outfitted with six wheels—with four front wheels mounted on the rear axle.
Mercedes-Benz sets the Italian land-speed record
With a 4.82-liter biturbo V8 engine and an output of 373 kW (500 hp) at 6,200 rpm, a Mercedes-Benz C111-IV reached a speed of 403.978 km/h. On May 5th, 1979, chief engineer Hans Liebold drove a “flying lap” in the car on the Nardò circular track in 1:57 minute.
Improved safety standards
With the installation of “anti-dozing bumps” stone bumps bordering the circular track), the safety standards in Nardò were already highly advanced by 1980. The bumps ensured that drivers who succumbed to microsleep at the wheel would be warned if they moved off the track. Safety continued to be the focus of ongoing enhancements in the years to follow. In 1990, the first accident warning system was installed on the circular track which would warn all drivers on the track in the event that dangerous situations arose.
ARVW posts six class records and two world records
Over five meters long, with a top speed of 360 km/h, just 13.6 liters of fuel consumption per 100 kilometers at top speed and space for just one person: meet the ARVW (Aerodynamik Research Volkswagen), which in September 1980 set six class speed records and two world speed records on the track in Nardò.
Construction of the lorry dynamic platform
1982: Just a few years after its opening, the test center was expanded to include a dynamics platform for trucks. The platform itself encompassed an area of 175 x 150 meters. Two acceleration and run-off lanes were built adjacent to the platform.
World record with the fastest natural gas vehicle by Bugatti
Reaching a speed of 344.7 km/h, in July 1994 the Bugatti EB110 GT set a new world speed record for street-legal natural gas vehicles.
1994 Bertone Z.E.R. (Zero Emissions Record)
Shaped like a cigar, just barely shoulder width, electrically powered and with a top speed of over 300 km/h—the brainchild of Oscar De Vita, a student at the Polytechnic University of Milan. The vehicle was ultimately further developed and built together with Bertone. In 1994, De Vita broke the flying kilometer record in Nardò with a speed of 303.977 km/h.
Acquisition by Prototype
After 24 years, the testing an trial grounds were taken over by the Prototype Group. Founded in Piedmont in 1991, the testing service provider significantly expanded its range of testing equipment with the acquisition of the Nardò Technical Center.
Construction of additional workshop buildings
To keep pace with the ever-increasing number of customers, in 2000 Prototipo built four new workshop buildings. The newly built workshop and office space for customers amounted to some 5,000 m2.
Additional test tracks for testing driving comfort and sound development
The courses with special pavements opened in 2002 were an important expansion of the testing grounds. Over a distance of 1.15 kilometers, 8-meter-wide sections of different surfaces were laid for optimal testing of vehicle comfort. Another new feature is the noise track with a special surface for measuring the noise of passing vehicles.
Openeing of the handling track
The new handling track was opened to great fanfare on June 5th, 2008. Modeled on the Nürburgring, the dynamic track, with it 16 corners and a 6.2 km straightaway, offers views of the Gulf of Taranto (Ionian Sea) in some sections. The handling track is recognized by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and offers optimal conditions for driving dynamics testing.
Porsche Engineering takes over the Nardò Technical Center
In May 2012, Porsche Engineering, the engineering services subsidiary of Porsche AG, took over the Nardò Technical Center. The test center in the south of Italy expanded the service portfolio of Porsche Engineering with over 80 years of experience in the field of engineering services both for the automotive industry and other sectors—in ideal fashion.
The testing grounds celebrate their 40th anniversary
On its 40th anniversary, the Nardò Technical Center is looking fresher and more dynamic than ever: the resurfacing of the asphalt on the circular track and other test tracks is well under way. The safety standards at the complex are also being further improved. In addition to the newly installed, highly innovative guardrail on the circular track, major investments are also being made in the emergency infrastructure, including new vehicles. Many more developments are in the works as well: extensive expansion and renovation plans are slated for the coming years to ensure that customer demands can always be met in full in the future as well.
Text first published in the Porsche Engineering Magazine, issue 01/2015