Fiat + Chrysler = ?
Around 1980, Chrysler opened its test facilities to automotive journalists and other outsiders. Over the years, there have been tests of competitors' cars, motorcycles, and the bucket trucks used by electric utilities. Police cars are regularly tested there, too.
When oil prices came down, Chrysler's own vehicles revved back up with tests of such hits as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Viper. Several former employees have memories of riding in the ten- cylinder Viper around the oval, hitting speeds of 130 to 140 miles an hour. "We would go out and run the hell out of them," recalls Colone, the retired driver and mechanic.
He often worked seven-day weeks with lots of overtime. "It was fun all the time," he says, "a different job every day." He loved it so much he never once called in sick.
Frank Markus, technical director for Motor Trend, recalls the facility being so busy "there were times when you struggled to get in. I would have to wait around for hours" for a chance to test cars and trucks for the magazine.