The best shooting brakes ever
We suspect the sole reason is that it sounds cool, but it does raise the question: what exactly is a shooting brake and how is it any different from an estate car or wagon? That raises yet another question, at least in the fevered minds of Driven staff: what are the best shooting brakes ever?
The name actually predates the automobile: it's a British term for a vehicle modified to carry gear for shooting parties, based around the brake-frame designed for breaking in horses. Posh hunters being what they are, they were early adopters of motor vehicles and began to commission coachbuilders to create shooting brake versions of their very expensive automobiles.
So really, a shooting brake is an upmarket car that has extra load-carrying ability. It's certainly a predecessor to the estate/wagon and some argue that the two terms are synonyms. But if we're sticking to the spirit of those original example - most of which had two seats up front with longitudinal rows in the back with storage for gear - a shooting brake should really be based on a coupe body shape.
Note that the CLS and CLA Shooting Brakes have four doors, but Mercedes-Benz argues that both are coupes in style and spirit; shooting brake semantics can be exhausting.
Back to business: what are the coolest shooting brakes ever?
ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER GHOST SHOOTING BRAKE (1910)
The Rolls-Royce 1910 Silver Ghost is the earliest example of a 'shooting brake'.
The Silver Ghost is the car that started the legend: the one that covered 24,000km in a reliability trial and earned the title "best car in the world".
A specially commissioned 1910 shooting brake version was also the car that carried John Charles Montagu-Douglas-Scott on shooting expeditions with his aristocratic friends. The bodywork by Croall & Croall in Scotland featured gun boxes over the rear guards, a roof rack to transport game and a stag's head on the radiator grille.
Claimed to be the third-oldest surviving Silver Ghost with original bodywork, the Silver Ghost shooting brake now lives at the Louwman Museum in The Netherlands. Go and have a look.
FERRARI FF (2011)
The Ferrari FF might just be the only genuine shooting brake currently on sale - even if it isn't called one. It's classic stuff: a long-nose, cab-back body with an extended roofline and practical tailgate at the rear.
But it wasn't the FF body style that grabbed the most headlines. It was the fact that it was four-wheel-drive (FF stood for Four seats and Four-wheel drive), making this the closest thing yet to a Ferrari SUV. Providing you didn't have a problem with an SUV that hugged the ground and handled like a racing car.
At launch in 2011, the FF was the world's fastest four-seat car.
RELIANT SCIMITAR GTE (1968)
This is a proper British shooting brake: the Scimitar boasted rakish looks with Ford 3.0-litre V6 power, and the choice of four-speed manual (later models had overdrive) or three-speed automatic transmission.
Princess Anne was the car's most famous and loyal owner. She got her first one at the age of 20 as a joint birthday/Christmas present from her parents (see, it even happens to royals) and subsequently had eight others.
FERRARI 330 GT SHOOTING BRAKE (1968)
The FF might be a current Ferrari shooting brake, but this one-off example is surely the coolest. The 330 GT Shooting Brake was created by coachbuilder Fredo Vignale and did not share a single body panel with the coupe on which it was based.
The vehicle has been meticulously restored and is now owned by musician Jay Kay (pictured).
AUDI SHOOTING BRAKE CONCEPT (2005)
Audi Shooting Brake concept.
Audi is fond of messing around with hatchback body shapes and terminology. Sportback, anybody?
In 2005 it launched this Shooting Brake Concept, which was outwardly a modern interpretation of this classic body style, but in reality provided a preview of the second-generation TT coupe. See what they did there? Coupe meets wagon.
The German maker did the same last year with the Allroad Shooting Brake Concept, which previewed the styling cues of the third-generation TT.
BMW Z3 M COUPE (1999)
Remember the BMW breadvan? The Munich maker caused controversy by turning its first-ever compact roadster, the Z3, into a shooting brake-style coupe. It was a figure of fun for some time, but enthusiasts loved the extreme performance of the M version.
BMW was confident enough to carry the coupe body style into the Z4 model, launched in 2006.
MERCEDES-BENZ CONCEPT FASCINATION (2008)
So Mercedes-Benz does know what a proper shooting brake is after all. The ConceptFASCINATION is a two-door motor-show special that appeared in 2008, as a preview for the CLS Shooting Brake.
In the back, it had a wooden floor and special compartments for binoculars, camera equipment, a glass table and small refrigerator. For the hunting party, obviously.
VOLVO 1800ES (1971)
Yes, Volvo knew how to be cool even in the 1970s: the P1800 was a gorgeous coupe but became even more awesome as a shooting brake, in the form of the 1800ES.
The rear end of the vehicle was completely redesigned and the cabin featured fold-down rear seats, in order to accommodate longer loads.
The all-glass tailgate became an iconic feature for Volvo and was referenced on the later 480 (1986) and C30 (2006) models.