Detroit Area Test Tracks (Images of America Series)

Detroit Area Test Tracks (Images of America Series)

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by Michael W. R. Davis
     
 

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The catastrophic failure of a new but unproven copper-cooled Chevrolet in 1923 led the General Motors Corporation to buy back the 100 cars it had sold to the public and recall another 400 in company and dealer hands. As a result, in 1924 General Motors started building the industry's first scientific proving ground to test new vehicle designs before they were

Overview


The catastrophic failure of a new but unproven copper-cooled Chevrolet in 1923 led the General Motors Corporation to buy back the 100 cars it had sold to the public and recall another 400 in company and dealer hands. As a result, in 1924 General Motors started building the industry's first scientific proving ground to test new vehicle designs before they were released for production and sale. Before this, all automakers tested new cars haphazardly on public roads and within limited engineering laboratories. Better known by the public as test tracks, the proving grounds became a source of curiosity for decades about the secrets they might hold. Detroit Area Test Tracks goes behind the test track walls to show how the facilities evolved and what typically takes place inside.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Title: Proving Ground Primer

Author: Matt DeLorenzo

Publisher: Road & Track

Date: 1/6/10

Pre-production vehicle testing is one of those concepts that car people take as a no-brainer. However, the auto industry was more than a quarter century old before GM broke ground on the first scientific proving ground in 1924 a year after it had to buy back 100 Chevys and recall an additional 400 in dealer stocks that had cooling issues. Mike Davis, a Detroit-area automotive historian has compiled a book "Detroit Area Test Tracks" that gives a photographic history of the Big Three's Michigan-based test tracks as well as a handful of other including Packard and Studebaker.

The 128-page soft-cover is a treasure-trove of vintage photographs and plat maps that take you through the early stages of the car testing regimes that are taken for granted today. Priced at $ 21.99, the book is available from Arcadia Publishing (arcadiapublishing.com).

Title: Detroit's early test tracks

Author: Mark Phelan

Publisher: Freep.com

Date: 12/20/09

Local historian and auto writer Mike Davis has produced another fascinating, picture-laden chronicle of the auto industry's development and how it shaped southeast Michigan. "Detroit Area Test Tracks," part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing, chronicles the development of the automotive proving ground from the disastrous attempt to sell an untested, radiator-less Chevrolet in 1923 to the day a spy photographer bought property with a view of Chrysler's test track in the Arizona desert. "Detroit Area Test Tracks" costs $21.99 and is available at local bookstores or from www.arcadiapublishing.com.

Title: Book Review: Detroit Area Test Tracks

Author: Ken Zino

Publisher: The Detroit Bureau

Date: 1/18/2010

The move from street testing to dedicated facilities for automobiles took place in the early decades of the last century.

Because of what could be the first recall in the industry - copper cooled Chevrolets without radiators in 1923 - General Motors established its Milford, Michigan, proving grounds in 1924 and set about to standardize the testing of vehicles under controlled conditions, work that is still done there.

Packard followed in 1927, as did Studebaker. It took Ford Motor a decade more to catch up with what is now standard practice.

As part of what's called the "Images of America" series of books from Arcadia Publishing, TheDetroitBureau.com senior editor Mike Davis has culled images from many sources, predominately the National Automotive Historical Collection (NAHC) at the Detroit Public library, and come up with Detroit Area Test Tracks.

This 128-page pictorial history of engineering laboratories -- commonly called test tracks -- has just gone on sale. It is a quick, easy read.

Moreover, the photos are vivid reminders of the integral role that the automobile and automobility has played in American life.

It's also a modest celebration of the can-do pioneering engineering spirit that made the United States the "Arsenal of Democracy" during WW2 (another Davis book) and the industrial power it still is today, albeit a waning one.

Not only were new methods in road construction required for the test tracks; also created were the tests themselves, their instrumentation, data recording methods and analytical techniques.

Results were shared between companies at meetings of the nascent Society of Automotive Engineers, which played a key role in developing badly needed engineering standards.

Davis says he got the idea for the book while volunteering to identify photographs acquired by the NAHC, where he is a trustee.

Moreover, he would welcome more information on the photos, clarification or anecdotes about the circumstances surrounding them.

A Plymouth Prowler front and a Jeep Wrangler body in this still unexplained Dunne shot?

For those of us who weren't there, it's an easy way to dip into a mostly unknown part of our automotive past.

Detroit Area Test Tracks, Michael W. R. Davis. ISBN: 9780738560229. Softcover, 128 pages, $21.99.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738560229
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
12/30/2009
Series:
Images of America Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,316,788
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author


This is the fifth Arcadia book by veteran automotive journalist and historian Michael W. R. Davis, graduate of Yale and Eastern Michigan Universities and former Ford Motor Company public relations executive. Previous books have covered World War II's "Arsenal of Democracy" and the histories of General Motors, Chrysler Corporation, and Ford. Davis, a resident of the Detroit suburb Royal Oak, is a longtime trustee of the National Automotive History Collection at the Detroit Public Library, the source of many images in this book.

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