Shooting brakes, no not what Americans call a day without any mass shootings, are a body style I’m particularly fond of. What’s not to love about the idea of a two-door wagon that combines the style and performance of a coupe with the practicality and usability of a wagon?
The term “shooting brake” comes vehicles used to carry equipment for the bourgeoisie on their shooting parties. It’s been adapted for use on coach-built wagons over the years based on existing sports cars.
Of course now we get “Shooting Brakes” such as the Mercedes CLA and CLS Shooting Brakes that are four-door wagons with “coupe-like” styling but that’s nothing more than a marketing exercise. No, to me shooting brakes are cars with proper sports cars styling that makes even the burliest men weak at the knees.
It’s a body style I wish more manufacturers and designers had the guts to do. Sure, everyone wants a SUV or a crossover these days but if you think about the Shooting Brake was the original crossover; combining two body styles into one package.
So let’s have a look back at some of the coolest shooting brakes that have been made and some that have only remained a fantasy (concept).
Before featuring in “The Interceptors”, a segment on Top Gear (and one that needed a 6-episode spin-off), the Interceptor was a pretty (emphasis on the pretty) advanced car for its time. It was one of the first to be offered with four-wheel drive. These variants were called “FF”. Hmm. What was less advanced were the Chrysler-sourced V8s. Though most people recognise the Shooting Brake shape of the Interceptor, Jensen also offered convertible and coupe variants. It should also be noted that the Interceptor was designed by an Italian company called Carrozzeria Touring. Remember that name later on.
Aston Martin Rapide Bertone Jet 2+2
A one-off custom build to commemorate Aston Martin’s 100th anniversary, this is $2.5m+ Rapide is an exception to the two-door rule. Just look at it. Sure, it may have the old Rapide’s 470hp 6.0-litre V12 but who care about numbers and figures (or price) when it’s a pretty as this. Commissioned by a Mr Barry Weir, the Bertone Jet 2+2 was a 3 month build and even got a green light from Aston Martin. Constructed from mostly aluminium and carbon fibre, the Jet 2+2 weighs roughly the same as the standard Rapide. But more importantly, it’s a lot prettier. Come on Aston, you know you want to make more.
Ferrari 456 GT Venice Pininfarina
Imagine being the King of a country with an obsession for bespoke cars? You’ve got all the cars in the world but want something a little bit more special. Why not as Ferrari to commission you seven 456 wagons? That’s exactly what the Sultan of Brunei did. Enter the Venice Pininfarina. Based on the pretty Ferrari 456, Pininfarina added two extra doors and a boot to top it all off. They even did a sedan version based on the wagon. Pininfarina made seven of the Venice wagons at a reported US$1.5m each. The Sultan sold a few, one of which made it to the UK while keeping a couple. Isn’t that nice?
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Princess Anne had one you know. Starting production from 1968, the Scimitar GTE was one of the first mass produced shooting brakes. The second-generation went on until 1986. Over its life the Scimitar was powered by a 3.0-litre Ford V6, though that changed to a 2.8 V6 in its later years. In many ways the success of the Scimitar GTE led to other manufactures such as Volvo and Lancia to follow suit and make their own shooting brake models. However, by the end of its life the GTE’s success had dwindled.
What started out as an already pretty car, Volvo eventually made the decision to put a beautiful frameless glass tailgate at the back, a design trait that would later go on to influence Volvos later on. It wasn’t the fastest or the most exclusive shooting brake, but my god it’s just as pretty as of the others on this list. It’s also a nice reminder that there was a time in Volvo’s history, before the current designs, that they did make sexy cars. The 1800es was only produced for two years and around 8000 were made.
Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake
Only 12 DB5 Shooting Brakes were made by coachbuilders Harold Radford, commissioned by Aston. The changes were made from the windscreen back and due to the extra extensions to support the roof, the rigidity of the Superleggera body was reduced. On the other hand, with the back seats folded down, Sean Connery would’ve been able to have Pussy Galore in for some, er, questioning. At the time it was claimed to be the “fasted dual-purpose vehicle” with a top speed of 240 km/h. Radford also went on to make six more shooting brakes based on the DB6.
Ferrari Daytona Shooting Brake
A Ferrari made in England? Well, sort of. This is what happens when you get a one-off commission by the son of the importer of Ferrari in North America done by a small coachbuilder in Surrey. The result is a gullwinged, shooting brake Ferrary Daytona. Because obviously going to Turin or Milan for Ferrari coach building is too obvious. Interesting, though it is a shooting brake, there’s no actual tailgate. Instead, access to the boot is through the two glass panels on either side of the car. Apparently because in America getting access through the back is hard and there’s always a way to get in from the side. Not that I could see this being used to go on supermarket trips often.
Bentley Continental Flying Star
Made by Carrozzeria Touring, only 20 example of the Flying Star were produced. Carrozzeria Touring have quite a history with shooting brakes, designing the Jensen Interceptor along with other beautiful examples. The Bentley Flying Star is based on the Continental GTC (convertible) but has been modified to feature a two-metre long load bay (with the rear seats down) and bamboo flooring. The transformation of your Bentley takes place in Milan and will take around 6 months. But hey, you’ll be the ‘Star’ of the show at your next round of golf or pheasant shooting.
Jaguar XJS Lynx Eventer
Only 67 examples of these XJS shooting brakes were made by Lynx, famous for their recreation and restoration of classic Jags. With the Eventer though there was no recreation or restoration involved, instead they went and plonked a wagon rear end on an existing model. Around 52 pre-facelift and 15 facelift cars received the Eventer treatment, of those 18 were left-hand drive and 49 were right. As you’d expect, there’s lot of wood and leather inside. Unlike the Bentley before, the load bay is carpeted rather than having a polished wood floor. But it does make the XJS look even better.
And so we come to the only shooting brake you can buy new today from the factory. Well, if we exclude the Mercedes offerings. The GTC4Lusso, and the FF for that matter, brought back the shooting brake style to our modern era. It might not be the pretties but we have to applaud Ferrari for doing so. With seating for four, space for luggage, and a four-wheel drive system, the GTC4Lusso allows four people to properly enjoy that 6.3-litre V12. What kind of person wouldn’t want to share that experience with three other people on the way to a ski field or to do some shooting?
What’s your favourite shooting brake?
style=”margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;”