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Shooting brake

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Volvo 1800ES (1972–1973)
Jaguar XJ-S-based Lynx Eventer[1]

Shooting-brake (alternately spelled shooting break[2]: 20, 146 ) is a car body style which originated in the 1890s from horse-drawn carriage origins. The first automotive shooting brakes were manufactured in the early 1900s in the United Kingdom. The vehicle style became popular in England during the 1920s and 1930s, and was produced by vehicle manufacturers or as conversions by coachbuilders. The term was used in Britain interchangeably with "estate car" from the 1930s but has not been in general use for many years and has been more or less superseded by the latter term.[3][4][5][6][7]

Since the 1960s, the term has evolved, describing cars combining elements of both station wagon and coupé body styles, with or without reference to the historical usage for shooting parties.[8] During the 1960s and early 1970s, several high-end European manufacturers produced two-door shooting brake versions of their sports cars. Following a hiatus from the mid 1970s until the early 2010s, the shooting-brake body style entered a resurgence.

Horse-drawn origins[edit]

A wagonnette

A horse-drawn shooting brake was a variation of the break (also spelled brake). Originally built as a simple but heavy frame for breaking in young horses to drive, over time it became a gentleman-driven vehicle and was popular for such aristocratic sports as shooting parties. Taking the design from the rear-loading horse-drawn sporting vehicle, the station wagon was born, retaining the term "shooting brake".[9][6][2]


There is no universally agreed definition of a shooting brake as an autobody style; however the common themes are the coupé and station wagon, and the historical usage of the vehicle for hunting trips.[10][11][12] Descriptions of the body style and usage of the term include:

  • "A sleek wagon with two doors and sports-car panache, its image entangled with European aristocracy, fox hunts, and baying hounds".[8]
  • "A cross between an estate and a coupé".[13]
  • "Essentially a two-door station wagon".[14]
  • An interchangeable term for estate car (station wagon).[5][4][6][15][3] In France, a station wagon is marketed as a break, once having been called a break de chasse, which translates as "hunting break".[16]
  • A body style with "a very interesting profile. It makes use of the road space it covers a little better than a normal coupé, and also helps the rear person with headroom. ... The occasional use of the rear seat means you can do one of these cars, even if such a wagon lacks the everyday practicality of four doors."[8]
  • A vehicle conceived "to take gentlemen on the hunt with their firearms and dogs. ... Although [its] glory days came before World War II, and it has faded from the scene in recent decades, the body style is showing signs of a renaissance [as of 2006]. ... The most famous shooting brakes had custom two-door bodies fitted to the chassis of pedigreed cars."[8]

1900s to 1950s[edit]

1910 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Shooting Brake

In the early 1900s, the Scottish Albion Motors began producing shooting brake models, described in the weekly magazine The Commercial Motor as having "seats for eight persons as well as the driver, whilst four guns and a large supply of cartridges, provisions baskets and a good 'bag' can be carried."[17] The 1912 Hudson Model 33 was described in England as a shooting brake, on the basis that "it was also used to carry the beaters to and from the location of the shoot, and for bringing back the game shot".[18]

Early[when?] motorized safari vehicles were described as shooting brakes with no windows or doors. One such description read: "Instead roll-down canvas curtains were buttoned to the roof in the case of bad weather. These cars were heavy and comfortable in good weather and allowed quick and silent exit as no shooting was permitted from the vehicles."[19] During the 1920s and 1930s, shooting brake vehicles were popular in England and were produced as shooting brakes from the factory or converted by coachbuilders. The term "estate car" began to be used instead of shooting brake, as the use of the vehicle expanded from just shooting parties to other domestic uses including ferrying guests and their luggage to and from railway stations.[7]

1960s to 1990s[edit]

Lagonda Rapide Shooting Brake. Based on the stillborn drawings by Touring of David Brown's desisted Lagonda estate, this car was built nearly 40 years later as a "might have been".

During the 1960s and early 1970s, several high-end European manufacturers produced two-door shooting brake versions of their sports cars, including the 1960 Sunbeam Alpine Shooting Brake and 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake.[8][20][21] The 1966 Sunbeam Alpine was a limited-production three-door variant of its two-door open sports car with leather interior and walnut trim, selling at a price double its open counterpart and marketed as a shooting brake.[22][23][24] The Aston Martin DB5, DB6, and DBS shooting brakes were custom manufactured by coachbuilder Harold Radford from 1965 until 1967.[25]

A prototype DB5 shooting-brake was custom produced by the factory for David Brown, an avid hunter and dog owner, and a further 11-12 coupés were custom modified for Aston Martin by independent coachbuilder, Harold Radford.[26][27] In August 2019 a DB5 sold for a record $1.765m (£1.456m),[28] making it the most valuable Shooting Brake bodied-car of any marque sold at auction. In 1992, Aston Martin manufactured in-house a limited production shooting brake variant of its Virage/Vantage, including a four-door shooting brake.[29]

Other cars combining elements of a wagon and coupé have been described but were never formally marketed as shooting brakes, including the Reliant Scimitar GTE (1968–1975),[30][31][32] the Volvo P1800 ES (1972–1973),[33][34][35] and the later 480 (1986–1995) – marketed as a coupé, and with a sporty, low nose featuring pop-up headlights, but with a distinctly estate-like rear body.[36] The 1998 BMW Z3 Coupé (plus associated M Coupé model) is also typically referred to as a shooting brake.[37][38][39][40]

2000s to present[edit]

Mostly dormant since the mid-1970s, the shooting brake term was used in 2004 to describe the Chevrolet Nomad concept car.[8] The following year, the Audi Shooting Brake concept car debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show. Several other cars have been described by journalists as shooting brakes, including 2005 Dodge Magnum Station Wagon,[41][42][43] 2006 Renault Altica concept car,[44] 2008 Mini Clubman,[45] 2011 Fisker Surf concept car,[46] and the 2011 Ferrari FF.[47][48] The first production model of the 21st century marketed as a shooting brake was the 2012 Mercedes Benz CLS-Class Shooting Brake (X218),[49][50] which was previewed as the Shooting Brake concept car at Auto China.[51][52] This model has four passenger doors, which is at odds with some definitions of a shooting brake as having two doors. In 2015, Mercedes-Benz added the smaller CLA-Class four-door shooting brake to the model range.[53][54][55][56]

The 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo,[57] along with the Volkswagen Arteon despite the Arteon having five doors,[58] are both described by their manufacturer as shooting brakes. The trend is to associate the shooting brake body style with "performance" and also making the cars "more practical" than a coupé.[59] The marketing descriptions have been further blurred between variations of the terms with names such as sports tourer, sportback, or "shooting break" as a way to differentiate from SUVs and reposition ordinary body styles with "sleeker lines" in the minds of consumers to "ooze sex appeal".[60] BMW unveiled the Concept Touring Coupé based on the Z4 at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in 2023.[61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rong, Blake Z. (24 April 2016). "The Lynx Eventer Was A Rare, Beautiful Shooting Brake That Made Perfect Sense". Road & Track. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b Smith, D.J.M. (1988). A Dictionary of Horse Drawn Vehicles. J. A. Allen & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0851314686. OL 11597864M.
  3. ^ a b Automobile quarterly, vol. 22, Princeton Institute for Historic Research, 1984, p. 1931, If milord had it in mind to do a bit of hunting, he and his guns would then be transported to the shooting site in a "brake" (the English term originally applied to horse-drawn wagons). Being somewhat logical, the British determined that if a brake was used for shooting purposes it might well be named "shooting brake." However, the term fell into common parlance and eventually became a generic label...
  4. ^ a b Hartford, Bill (February 1969). "Sizing up the 1969 Station Wagons". Popular Mechanics. Vol. 131, no. 2. p. 104. Retrieved 5 December 2023 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b c Chambers 21st Century Dictionary. India: Allied Chambers. 1996. p. 1295. shooting-brake.
  6. ^ a b Peck, Colin (May 2008). British Woodies: From the 1920s to the 1950s. Veloce Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 9781845841690.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Diem, William (26 November 2006). "The Shooting Brake Makes a Comeback". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Terry, Christopher William (1914). Motor Body-building in all its Branches. London: E. & F.N. Spon. p. 6. 16. Wagonettes. — This type of body should have longitudinal seats placed vis-a-vis in the main portion of the body and usually with a hind entrance, although some varieties have side doors as well. A shooting brake is a wagonette provided with game and gun racks, and accommodation for ammunition. A luggage brake, or estate wagon, is often a wagonette with the long seats made to fold flat against the side of the body and the hind entrance provided with double doors.
  9. ^ "World's best ever shooting brakes". msn.com. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Wicked Wagons: 15 Best Shooting Brakes of All Time". hiconsumption.com. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  11. ^ "12 of Our Favorite Shooting Brakes Ever Produced". roadandtrack.com. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  12. ^ Pattni, Vijay (21 January 2011). "Four-wheel-drive Ferrari shooting-brake revealed". Top Gear. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  13. ^ Ulrich, Lawrence (13 January 2014). "It's an Audi Shooting Brake and a Plug-In". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Allen, Mike (August 1999). "Europe Spy Report: The 2001 Jaguar S-Type Estate". Popular Mechanics. p. 50. Retrieved 5 December 2023 – via Google Books.
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  21. ^ Spencer, Ian. "The 1960 Sunbeam Alpine Shooting Brake Estate Wagon". SunbeamAlpine.org.
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  23. ^ "Lost & Found- In search of the shooting brake estate wagon". hemmings.com. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  24. ^ Cottingham, Tim (9 July 2008). "Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake by Harold Radford (1965–1967)". Aston Martins.com.
  25. ^ Hingston, Peter (2008). The Enthusiasts' Guide to Buying a Classic British Sports Car. Hingston Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-906555-25-5. Retrieved 5 December 2023 – via Google Books.
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  27. ^ McLaren, Marc (16 August 2019). "Bond DB5 sets new world record at Monterey sale". Classic & Sports Car. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  28. ^ Bobdcuk. "Aston Martin DB5 Radford Shooting Brake Estate August 1972". Retrieved 5 December 2023 – via Flickr.
  29. ^ Lieberman, Johny (25 July 2007). "Reliant Scimitar and Friends". Jalopnik.
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  34. ^ Fowle, Stuart (29 October 2009). "Hindsight: Looking Back on Volvo's Quirky 1800ES". Kilometer Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 September 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  35. ^ Braithwaite-Smith, Gavin (28 September 2020). "Volvo 480: a sporty Swede that wasn't sensible or square". Retro Motor. Archived from the original on 30 October 2020.
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  42. ^ "Unattractive and Overhyped: The new Chrysler 300". About.com. Archived from the original on 18 September 2005.
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  44. ^ A New Kind of Club. Torque Magazine. October 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2023 – via Google Books.
  45. ^ Martine, Nate (13 September 2011). "2012 Fisker Surf Say Hello to the Future's Coolest Niche EV Segment". Motor Trend. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  46. ^ Shultz, Jonathon (21 January 2011). "Ferrari FF, an All-Wheel-Drive Shooting Brake". wheels.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  47. ^ "2004 Chevrolet Nomad Concept". upercars.net. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  48. ^ Kew, Ollie (29 June 2012). "Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake (2012) first pictures". Car Magazine. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  49. ^ "2013 Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake Review". Top Speed. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  50. ^ "2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS-class Shooting Brake". Car and Driver. June 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  51. ^ "China auto show: Mercedes-Benz Shooting Break concept previews new CLS". Autoweek. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  52. ^ "Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake arrives in Geneva". autoexpress.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  53. ^ "Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake: Vehicle concept". mercedes-benz.co.uk. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  54. ^ "Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake review". Telegraph Cars. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2018 – via youtube.com.
  55. ^ "Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake (2015) review". carmagazine.co.uk. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  56. ^ "Porsche shooting brake: past and present". porsche.com (Press release). Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  57. ^ "Arteon Shooting Brake". volkswagen-newsroom.com (Press release). Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  58. ^ Angelov, Dim (18 May 2021). "Cool Shooting Brakes You Probably Didn't Know About". Top Speed. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  59. ^ "What is a shooting brake and why are they a good idea?". autotrader.co.uk. 23 March 2022. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  60. ^ Kacher, Georg (19 May 2023). "BMW's Z4 Concept Touring Coupe Could Herald the Return of the Clown Shoe". Car and Driver. Retrieved 5 December 2023.

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