Because wagons have too many doors.
The origin of the term shooting brake goes back to the late 19th century when horse-drawn wagons were used to transport hunting parties around a landowner's estate. Later, in the 20th century, hunting wagons were also put to use carrying guests and luggage to and from their hunting estates. The British still use the term estate car to mean what we call a station wagon, but the French call it a break de chasse, which translates as hunting wagon. The misspelled name hung around as a derivative of the wagon, and the rise of shooting brake as we now know it started in the 1960s. Typically, the term refers to a sporty two-door wagon, but there's still no official or commonly accepted definition.
The modern shooting brake is the enthusiast's choice when it comes to blending a sporty car with practicality. If a crossover is too tall, and a wagon is too stodgy, then a shooting brake sits in the sweet spot. With a low slung stance, a sloping coupe-style roof, and extended cargo space in the back, the modern shooting brake is, essentially, a sporty wagon. It makes minimal compromises for a lot more practicality over a straight-up coupe when it comes to daily life or extended road trips. These are some of the more unusual ones out there from recent history.
Incredibly, this Porsche Boxster Shooting Brake was created as a project for students with no previous experience working with bodywork. They chose the Boxster as it was relatively affordable, and already stiff without a roof. The idea was for the students to create a concept that could realistically go into production. As a result, the Boxster Shooting Brake uses 997 and 991 Porsche 911 elements, and the hatch and side windows from a Peugeot car. The company that worked with the students, Van Thull Development, said that making the Boxter Shooting Brake look good was the easy bit of the design study.
Callaway became famous for the legendary Corvette Sledgehammer, the late 1980s precursor to the modern Corvette ZR1. Callaway still works on performance with Corvettes, but the company also makes a Corvette bodywork package that adds more luggage space and a certain kind of style. The Callaway shooting brake kit can be fitted to any C7 Corvette, and it's not that expensive in the grand scheme of things. It costs $14,990, including OEM color paint and installation. The Calloway Aerowagen is beautifully engineered using all the original Chevrolet hardware and latching mechanisms.
What you're looking at is a real thing. It's a concept that was put together by Toyota's Australian design team. According to Tetsuya Tada, the GT 86's chief engineer, the shooting brake is fully functional and that: "the GT86's nicely weighted and direct steering ensures the car retains the coupe's involving driving experience with a slightly more neutral feel in tight corners." A lot of people got excited about the concept, but that was in 2016, and we haven't seen a production version yet.
Money can't buy you love, but it can pay for Bertone to build you a one-off shooting brake version of an Aston Martin model. Based on the DB9 platform, the Jet 2 Shooting brake was built for Aston Martin fanatic Barry Weir, and, reportedly, sold for $4 million. According to Weir, Bertone planned to build ten cars, and then Aston Martin wanted to put a version into full production. Unfortunately, this was the last car Bertone produced before going bust in 2014.
We're in a split decision over this creation from Dutch coachbuilding firm Vandenbrink Design. Some at the office think the 612 Scaglietti Shooting Brake looks better than the factory model, and the rest are wrong. It took Vandenbrink Design ten years to get from initial concept design to a finished product, which looks both stunning and useful. The bespoke rear end features a sloping roof with integrated skylights, a custom tailgate and spoiler, and a rear wiper. It's also powered by that peach of a Ferrari 5.7-liter V12 that sends 540 horsepower to the rear wheels.
When it comes to coachbuilders and shooting brakes, the Dutch appear to be particularly enthusiastic. This Tesla Model S Shooting Brake was built by RemetzCar, and was commissioned by a customer after seeing the company's Model S hearse conversion. RemetzCar planned to build 20 examples of the bespoke Model S, but the company went under before more could be made. The bespoke tail end features a rear spoiler with a hidden rear window wiper and brake light. There's also a custom chrome trim that runs from the A-pillars, along the roofline, and then around the panoramic roof, and adds even more style to the metallic gold-infused green finish.
Alcraft is a company from the UK that stole headlines in 2017 with its all-electric GT model, slated to get into production before the Porsche Taycan, or Mission-E, as it was known then. The four-seater all-electric shooting brake was touted to feature lightweight carbon-fiber construction, generate 600 hp and 840 lb-ft of torque, and have a range of 300 miles. Unfortunately, news on the Alcraft GT's journey to production dried up after April of 2019, and all we're left with are some images of just how good the car would have looked.
Let's go all the way back to the 1970s for a moment and the inelegant yet captivating rotary engine powered Mazda RX-500 Concept. The single rotary engine is only 500cc in displacement but makes about 250 hp while the crazy looking car only weighs 1,322 lbs. Despite its race car looks and mid-mounted engine, the RX-500 was put together as a testbed for road safety technology. Only one was ever built and was finally restored in 2009 before being put on display in a Japanese transportation museum.
We'll let you decide for yourself whether this incredible Mustang crossed with the rear end of Volvo 240 is an abomination or work of genius. The builder described it in a sales listing in 2014 as a "sedan delivery," but we think that it falls squarely (pun intended) into the shooting brake category. It looks like a tidy job was performed in creating this Mustolvo, but what's under the hood is just as attention-grabbing. It's powered by an 8.4-liter V8 engine along with the necessary upgraded transmission, steering, and rear-axle.
We end with an example of a truism: "Just because it's expensive, that doesn't mean it's good." An unnamed client commissioned this stretched out Vanquish EG Shooting Brake from the pen of Francesco Boniolo. In theory, it's inspired by the coke bottle shape of the Aston Martin DBS and British World War II era fighter aircraft. In reality, it makes our eyes cross to look at it for too long having been painted in British Racing Green over lobster-colored leather.