It looks to be the end of the road for the ex-Fiat factory’s legendary Lingotto rooftop test track in Turin, Italy. Olivier François, Fiat CEO revealed during the Stellantis EV Day event that the track will be converted into a hanging garden as part of Fiat’s push for a cleaner future. Nevertheless, this will be quite a big blow to a track that had a lot of historical significance.
Designed by Giacomo Matté-Trucco and inaugurated in 1923, the test track was built on Fiat’s factory that was already known for being one of the largest car factories in the world at that time. The layout was a simple ring, that consisted of two parabolic curves, that allowed cars to hit speeds of upto 90kmph.
Since this track was quite literally on Fiat’s roof, it was hugely beneficial for the carmaker’s assembly line and testing purposes. Basically, the five-floor factory building had an unusual assembly line in which assembly began at the ground floor, with the process being completed on the top floor. After that, the freshly finished car went straight up to the rooftop onto the test track for quality tests.
Showing Its Age
The factory had spiralling helix access ramps inside the building to keep the assembly line a streamlined process, at its time a very modern solution. But by the late 70s, the factory began to show its age, and Fiat eventually shut it down in 1982. Its near 60-year lifetime, this factory-cum test track saw 80 different models come to life including the very first Fiat 500. Movie buffs will also recognise this track featuring in the 1969 movie The Italian Job, where Mini Coopers raced around the track in a car chase scene. Here’s a look at it down below:
Preserving Its Heritage
Despite the factory being shut down, the carmaker did make an attempt to preserve this historical monument’s prestige by hosting an architectural competition in which Renzo Piano won the commission for the former factory’s redevelopment. He managed to not only retain the rooftop test track, but also transformed the complex into a public space that featured a concert hall, a heliport, a glass dome conference center on the roof, a theater, a hotel, and an art gallery.
In our opinion, it’s sad to see the Lingotto rooftop test track, a historical gem of the automotive industry to be no more, as there could have been some ways to keep it relevant. Sure, with the safety standards of today the days of Fiat cars testing here are long gone, but it could still be used for car launches/unveils, press shoots, or maybe even turn the track into a fun go-kart track.
What do you think of Fiat’s decision to make the rooftop test track a garden? Could there have been other alternatives to keep the track relevant? Drop a comment down below.
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