Automotive Ruin Porn – Belgian Style

Imperia prototype?

Living in the Detroit area, it’d be simple for me to get photos of abandoned automobile factories, like the decaying, long empty Packard plant on East Grand Blvd. I’m not a fan of ruin porn, though, so you’re not likely to see 3D pics of the Packard plant here at cars in depth. Still there’s something undeniably evocative about an empty car factory. There’s also something evocative about no longer used test tracks and their remnants, like the few hundred feet that remain of what was once a 2.5 mile oval at the Packard Proving Grounds, or the trees planted to spell out Studebaker for those flying over that company’s test track near South Bend.

The Imperia company built cars, mostly Adlers under license, in Nessonvaux, Belgium, not far from Liege, starting in 1908. When the factory’s neighbors objected to test drivers flogging cars on Nessonvaux’s narrow streets, in the late 1920s Imperia built a banked, oval test track that ran around the employee’s soccer field and then up onto the factory’s roof. Last year photographer Stephane Gaudry visited what remains of the plant, mostly empty for over 50 years, and took this series of photos of the workshops, the rooftop test track and even an abandoned car that Gaudry thinks might have been a prototype. There may have been some activity in the plant in the 1960s or early 1970s, judging by the VW based dune buggy on a pallet in a couple of the photos, but for the most part, this car factory has been silent since 1957. That means that this particular car factory in Belgium has been dormant even longer than the Packard plant in Detroit, which closed in 1958.

Nessonvaux, Belgium, not Detroit, Michigan

Full photo gallery after the jump.

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