On July 1st, 1975, the Proving Ground at Nardò opened its doors to the automotive industry. Initially starting with three test tracks and one workshop it soon became one of the biggest proving grounds in the world with more than 20 test tracks and facilities.
The Nardò Technical Center looks fresher and more dynamic than ever for its 40th birthday; the asphalt of two important tracks is replaced and the high safety standards at the ground are being further improved. Heavy investment are being made in the rescue infrastructure including new vehicles. But the improvements do not stop there: extensive expansion and improvement plans are already in place for the coming years to ensure that customer needs are always completely satisfied, also in the future.
Porsche Engineering, the engineering services subsidiary of Porsche AG, acquires the Nardò Technical Center in May 2012. With over 80 years of experience in the area of development services – both for the automotive industry and other sectors – the test center in Southern Italy is the perfect addition to the service portfolio of Porsche Engineering.
An opening ceremony for the new Handling Track is held on June 5th, 2008. The Handling Track based on the Nürburgring with 16 curves and a 6.2 kilometer straight lane even offers drivers a view of the Gulf of Taranto (Ionian Sea) in some places. The Handling Track is recognised by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and offers ideal conditions for driving dynamics tests.
The opening of the test tracks with special surfaces in 2002 represent an important addition to the test centre. Six different surfaces for optimum testing of vehicle comfort are laid over an area 1.15 kilometers long and 8 meters wide. Another innovation is the Noise Track with special surface for measuring pass-by noise.
Prototipo constructs four new workshop buildings in 2000 to meet the steadily increasing customer numbers. The new workshop and office space for customers provided with this measure totals around 5,000 m².
After 24 years, the Prototipo Group acquires the test site. The testing service provider established in Piedmont in 1991 greatly expands its range of test facilities with the Nardò Technical Center as an additional resource.
Shaped like a cigar, no more than shoulder wide, electrically operated and with a speed of over 300 km/h (186 mph), the initial design was the brainchild of a student at the Polytechnic University of Milan. It was eventually further developed and made reality in cooperation with Bertone. It broke the flying kilometer record in Nardò in 1994 with a speed of 303.977 km/h (188.891 mph).
The Bugatti EB110 GT breaks the world speed record for roadworthy Greengas vehicles on July 2nd, 1994 with a speed of 344.7 km/h (214 mph).
Over 5 meters long with a top speed of more than 360 km/h (224 mph), fuel consumption of just 20.77 mpg at top speed and space for just one person: these are the stats for the ARVW (Aerodynamik Research VW), which set six class records and two world records for speed on the Nardò track in September 1980.
The installation of anti-dozing bumps at the edge of the circuit means that the safety standards are already at a very high level in 1980. The bumps make sure that drivers are alerted if they leave the road after momentarily falling asleep. Continued progress on safety is also made in the following years. The first accident warning system is installed on the Circular Track in 1990 to alert all drivers on the track about dangerous situations.
With a 4.82-litre biturbo V8 engine developing 373 kW (500 hp) at 6,200 rpm, the Mercedes-Benz C111-IV reaches a speed of 404 km/h (251 mph). Chief engineer Hans Liebold drove the “flying lap” on the Nardò circuit in this vehicle in 1 minute, 57 seconds.
The Ferrari 312 T2, which Niki Lauda tests on the circuit on March 13th, 1977, is a one-of-a-kind prototype. To improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle, the Ferrari was fitted with six wheels, four front wheels fitted on the rear axle.
The test center is established as the “Society for Automobile Test Tracks Nardò” (“Società Autopiste Sperimentale Nardò”) on July 1st, 1975. At this time it consists of the Car and Lorry Circular Tracks, the Car Dynamic Platform and the monitoring tower.