British proving grounds Millbrook celebrates 50th anniversary

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Millbrook's natural terrain allowed elevation change for vehicle testing | Millbrook Proving Grounds photos

It was back in 1970 that General Motors opened its British proving grounds, Millbrook, in Bedfordshire, where the facility was dedicated to the testing and development of Vauxhall and Bedford vehicles. Now owned by Spectris, the Millbrook Providing Grounds is celebrating its 50th anniversary, albeit on a lower-key, pandemic basis so far.

Spectris, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, is a supplier of precision instrumentation and controls. The company was founded as Fairey Aviation in 1915. 

Then…
… and now

Millbrook became part of Group Lotus, itself part of GM, in 1988 and at the time the facilities were made available to other brands and suppliers. In 2015, Millbrook added winter vehicle and tire-testing facilities in northern Finland and in 2015 became part of Spectris.

In 2018, Spectris acquired Detroit-based electric-vehicle driveline test system Revolutionary Engineering, and opened a new Millbrook Revolutionary Engineering site in California. In 2019, it acquired the Leyland Technical Center in Lancashire and opened the UK’s largest propulsion systems testing, validation and certification facility, and a battery-testing program. It also added an Autonomous Village for the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Facility originally was used for testing and development of Vauxhall cars and Bedford trucks

“Millbrook’s vision is to be a leading global provider of independent and impartial test services and test systems to the markets that it serves,” Spectrus said in its anniversary news release. 

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“It works with customers in the automotive, transport, tire, petrochemical and defense industries and provides them with a broad range of test services to support the development of new vehicles.”

Added Alex Burns, Millbrook president: “This anniversary is a great opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary pace of development of automotive technologies and to recognize the investment that the industry is making to promote cleaner and safer transport in the future.”

For more information, visit the Millbrook website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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