Monday, July 16, 2012

A Brief History of the Shooting Brake

Back in the 1920's, there were no SUV's. So if you were a hunter, with an ample collection of guns and dogs, there weren't really any vehicles to serve your hobby. For those wealthy enough to afford it back in the 20's, there was a solution: The Shooting Brake.

Back in that period, the term "brake" meant chassis. And shooting meant just that...shooting. So a Shooting Brake was a specially made car designed to carry guns and hounds. But no one made such a thing back then. If you wanted this special, purpose built "estate wagon", you had to commission a coach builder to make you one from an existing car.

The earliest Shooting Brakes were made from fine motor cars like Rolls Royce. The car shown at the top of this blog was originally a touring saloon. A custom coach builder took the car apart and then custom fabricated the panels to turn it into a Shooting Brake.

The early shooting brakes were either 2 or 4 door vehicles. As station wagons started to appear on the scene, the term "Shooting Brake" was primarily applied to 2-door versions. Even Chevrolet jumped on the bandwagon, rolling out their version, the Chevy Nomad, in 1955.

The aristocrats kept the Shooting Brake term alive in the 1960's by commissioning bespoke versions of very high-end cars. One of my all-time favorites was this 1965 Aston Martin Shooting Brake:

The concept of the Shooting Brake languished for many decades. But then in 2011, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Ferrari shocked the automotive world by rolling out  a modern-day Shooting Brake, the Ferrari FF. The two "F's" stand for Four passengers and Four-wheel drive. The design is truly remarkable for a modern day production car:

I firmly believe we are at the beginning of a rennaisance of the Shooting Brake concept. Mercedes just introduced the CLS Shooting Brake. Porsche is rumored to be working on a version for the Panamera. And the upcoming Audi A9 is rumored to be a Shooting Brake version of their flagship A8. It's a great time to be a Shooting Brake fanboy.

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