Chrysler Corp.'s new engineering center and proving ground on 3,800 acres in Chelsea, Mich., formally opens on June 16, 1954, with dedication ceremonies.
To mark the milestone, Jack McGarth set a world closed-track record of 179.386 mph and Betty Skelton established a women's land speed record of 143.44 mph, both behind the wheel of a Dodge Firearrow show car.
Chrysler also used the event to publicly demonstrate for the first time a turbine-powered car, the 1954 Plymouth sport coupe.
At the time, Chrysler said engineers and other drivers at the proving ground would cover 2.5 million miles of driving in the coming year, 1954-55.
Nothing was left untested. Using a camera mounted over an open engine compartment, a 1954 Chrysler was run through a water pit to determine how and where water might land on components and cause the engine to misfire or the vehicle to stall.
Today, the center sits on 4,000 acres and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and conducts roughly 85 percent of vehicle testing and evaluation that includes impact barrier tests; safety sled; emissions build and testing; emissions development and certification; powertrain calibration; performance and fuel economy; corrosion tests; and brake systems development and certification.
In September 2018, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it was spending more than $30 million at the site to develop and test autonomous vehicle and advanced safety technology.
The all-new center features a dedicated autonomous highway-speed track, a 35-acre evaluation area for safety features and a high-tech command center.