While not as large as other museums in Southeast Michigan, the Packard Proving Grounds offer visitors a glimpse into how one of the most respected automobile companies hellishly tested their cars in the early days of the Motor City. The original Packard oval track, now a housing subdivision, was once hailed as the “World’s Fastest Speedway” when, in 1928, Leon Duray set a world speed record of 148.7 mph.
The proving grounds were used to do durability tests in a controlled atmosphere at a time when other manufactures were using the streets to test their cars. In later years, the facility was used to develop and test aircraft engines designed by Rolls Royce and built by Packard.
Visitors will see the dormitories where the test engineers slept while working at the proving grounds. Displays of a PT boat engine, mine sweeper engine and four marine engines built by Packard for use during World War II are part of the exhibit. Behind the main building, the Packard garage houses several vintage Packards and an early towing-style dynamometer. Guests can also drive down the main road to the timing tower and view a portion of the original 2.5 mile oval test track. They are also welcome to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the grounds.