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You might have seen Mercedes promoting their new $100K CLS63 AMG shooting-brake, and thought to yourself:  what the hell is a shooting-brake?

  • No, it’s not a vehicle-mounted weapon from the latest Bond flick (though Aston-Martin has produced its fair share of shooting-brakes).
  • No, it’s not what happens when Ted Nugent needs a beer and a reload.

Shooting-Brake:  a two-door wagon with coupe-like features…or, it now seems, a four-door wagon with a sporty silhouette.

You see, automakers have been stretching the definition in recent years.  And it’s hard to blame them:  it sounds cool, and there really is no formal set of guidelines for what defines a shooting-brake (or -break). Various definitions abound:

  • According to NYT: “…a sleek wagon with two doors and sports-car panache…”
  • According to Top Gear:  “…a cross between an estate and a coupé…”
  • According to M Coupe Buyers Guide:  “…a 2-door car with a squared-off backend…”

Some say a shooting-break is simply a station wagon, and the dictionary calls the term an antiquated synonym thereof.  But purists will tell you that a true shooting-brake has 2 seats, 3 doors, and is built on a GT platform.

Classic Shooting-Brakes

  • Sunbeam Alpine (1960)
  • Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake (1963-1965)
  • Aston Martin Virage Shooting Brake (1992-1993)
  • Jensen GT (1975-1976)
  • MGB GT (1966-1974)
  • Volvo P1800 ES (1972–1973)
  • Reliant Scimitar GTE (1968–1975)

Contemporary Shooting-Brakes

Here are a few examples of modern shooting-brakes.  Some of them were defined as such by their manufacturer, while others were dubbed shooting-brakes by the automotive media.  A few of these are definitely arguable:

  • Mercedes CLS63 AMG
  • Dodge Magnum
  • Ferrari FF
  • Fisker Surf
  • Mini Clubman
  • BMW Z3 Coupe
  • Volvo C30

Shooting-Brake Concepts

  • Chevy Nomad Concept (2004)
  • Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept (2012)
  • Renault Altica Concept (2006)
  • Bentley Continental Flying Star (2010)
  • Aston Martin Bertone Jet 2 (2004)
  • Audi Shooting Brake Concept (2005)

Origination of the Term

The term originated in the 1800’s in Britain, when a “brake” was a carriage to which wild or green horses were bridled in order to “break” them.  “Brake” carried over into horseless carriages, and custom two-door open-air automobiles that ferried men, dogs, and guns – shooting parties – afield.  Hence the term:  “shooting brake.”  It was typically a high-fashion vehicle with a gentlemanly air, and The New York Times says that “its image entangled with European aristocracy, fox hunts and baying hounds.”



About the author: Taylor


Taylor is the founder of He's a seasoned fiction and web writer who has been involved in the automotive industry for nearly a decade. He's currently restoring a 1985 BMW 325e. Email | Twitter | Google+


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