Porsche is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Nardò Technical Center that’s located in the Puglia region of Italy.
Although it’s operated by Porsche today, the test track was largely designed and built by Fiat. In its early days, the facility was made up simply of a track where both cars and trucks could be tested and a more dynamic test area reserved exclusively for cars, but additional tracks were added in 1983. This marked the Center’s first major expansion.
The track has been used by a wide number of automakers from all corners of the globe since it was opened on July 1st, 1975. Mercedes-Benz’s C111-IV was the first car to break the 400 km/h (248 mph) barrier when it hit precisely 403 km/h (250 mph) in 1979. Porsche set a new 24-hour record in 1982 with a 928 S that covered 6,377 kilometers (3,962 miles) at an average speed of 251 km/h (155 mph). The record was broken in 1993 by a 928 GTS driven by a private team from Austria, and more recently in 2002 by the Volkswagen W12 Nardò concept that drove for 7,740 kilometers (4,809 miles) at an average speed of 322 km/h (200 mph).
A company called Italian Prototipo Group purchased the Nardò track in 1999 and began expanding it in order to cope with the rapidly increasing number of companies interested in renting it out. Workshops and offices were quickly added, and areas where companies can test ride comfort and interior noise levels were added in 2002 and 2008, respectively. Finally, a new 6.2-kilometer (3.8-mile) test track with bends modeled after those found on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife was also added.
Porsche took over the track in 2012. Today, it uses it to test its own cars and it also rents it out to other automakers from outside the Volkswagen group. It’s an attractive place to fine-tune new and upcoming models because it allows automakers to carry out a wide variety of tests in a single location. For example, cars can be tested on a high-speed track, on wet roads and on the type of off-road tracks typically found in Africa all in the same day. Additionally, southern Italy’s hot summers make it possible for companies to test cars all year round.