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Greatest Shooting Brakes Of All Time

Car Culture

There's nothing like a sporty 2-door wagon.

The term shooting brake goes back to the 1890s and originally described a horse-drawn wagon used to transport shooting parties complete with gamekeepers, beaters, dogs, guns, and any game they shot. History is vague in the evolution, but a brake was originally the term for a carriage used to train horses for draft work, and also a carriage used to break in young horses. Before the terms estate car or station wagon became the common parlance, the term shooting brake was also used for those body designs. In France, station wagons are called break de chasse, which translates as hunting break.

Motorized shooting brakes for sportsmen to use for sporting purposes started to die out in the late 1940s as they were increasingly being used for moving guests and luggage to and from, and around estates, and the term estate car started to be used commonly. The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of the two-door shooting brake versions of sports cars we’re now familiar with but died away in the 1990s before a resurgence in the 2000s, most notably in 2004 with the Chevrolet Nomad. There’s no commonly accepted definition for a shooting brake now but, generally, it’s accepted to be a sporty two-door wagon.

Calloway Aerowagen

Calloway has been doing amazing stuff with the Corvette for decades, and not much is going to get car nerds more excited than a shooting brake version of the Corvette. Calloway has done a simple but effective job in making it a bolt-on package for the C7 Corvette as well. The hatch assembly and its associated parts are a direct replacement for a stock Corvette's rear hatch and you instantly have more storage space for those weekend getaways. While you’re there, you can also add one of Calloway’s performance packages and crank the engine up to either 627 or 757 horsepower.

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Reliant Scimitar GTE

While Reliant’s most famous vehicle is the 3-wheeled Robin, Reliant built some great sporty cars back in the day. The Scimitar GTE was based on their coupe of the same name built from 1968 to 1975. It was essentially a sporty two door with room for the kids if need be and some luggage for the weekend.

Aston Martin Virage Shooting Brake

The shooting brake version of the Virage was built for just a couple of years in the early 1990s by Aston Martin’s in-house Works Service. It was ridiculously expensive and traded off a lot of performance for more room and different styling. Very few were built and despite not having the performance expected, it’ll be remembered for a long time for its looks alone. More recently, Italian design house Zigato produced a one-off and called it a shooting brake, but it looks nowhere near as practical as the original.

Lamborghini 400 GT Flying Star II

Corrozzeria Touring Legera were the coachbuilders responsible for bringing this beauty to the 1966 Turin Auto Show. Not only is it one sleek piece of bodywork, but has the Lamborghini aluminum V12 engine matched to a 5-speed manual transmission. Only one was ever made, which as a shame because it’s beautiful, fast, and practical.

Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Shooting Brake

There are a couple of classic coach-built Ferrari shooting brakes, and most should be forgotten, but the 365 GTB/4 Daytona is the one that sticks most in our minds for being striking, ridiculous, and an absolute rocket. It was built for a real-estate tycoon as a one-of-a-kind car to get his ideal balance of utility and near supercar performance. It's reputed to have 353 horsepower and 319 lb-ft of torque under the hood with a top speed of over 170 mph.

Jensen GT

The Jensen-Healey was a sports car collaboration between Jensen, famous for the Interceptor, and Donald Healey. The shooting brake was basically the same car with an extended cabin, so performance dropped a little due to the weight gain. It was only built between 1975 and 1976, but there were talks of a new hand-built Jensen GT in 2016. However, sadly, that hasn’t panned out.

Lancia Beta HPE

In 1975 Lancia unveiled the Beta High Performance Estate based on its Beta Berlina coupe. It's now an incredibly rare car and when they do pop up, they go for outlandish money. Ultimately, the Beta was a disaster due to Fiat's interference, poor build quality, and rust issues. It seriously damaged Lancia's name, but the HPE is a wonderful curiosity of that time for the brand's road cars.

Lynx Eventer XJS

Before Jaguar made convertible versions of its cars, Lynx was a small company that converted them into soft tops. However, when Jaguar did start making soft tops itself, Lynx switched to building these shooting brake versions. The result was a super-sleek, elegant, and spacious car with a V12 under the hood.

Volvo 1800 ES

Volvo’s first attempt at a sports car didn’t go well and was canceled by the incoming CEO when only 68 had been sold. The P1800 arrived in 1961 with heavy design influences from Ghia and morphed into the 1800s that older Brits may remember Roger Moore driving in the TV show The Saint. It was a mechanically and structurally solid lump of a car yet was still comparable in performance to the Porsche 356B. The 1800 ES shooting brake came in the last years of production and is one of the most successful shooting brakes sold with 8,078 units hitting the road. The 1800 ES also gained the nickname Snow White’s Coffin due to the large curved rear window.

Ferrari FF

The greatest Ferrari shooting brake, and let’s not pretend it’s a GT, isn’t coach-built. The FF was the successor to the 612 Scaglietti and stole hearts with its achingly good looking bodywork and fearsome naturally aspirated V12 that powers the FF to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.

BMW Z3 M Coupe

Now rare and expensive, the Z3 M Coupe came into existence due to a BMW engineer named Burkhard Göschel who aimed to improve the Z3 roadster by boosting its structural integrity. When the coupe was shown to meet with the cost-effective demands of BMW’s board of directors, it went into production and immediately garnered a bunch of accolades, including Automobil Magazine’s car of the year for 1999.

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