by Mike –
I spent much of my childhood riding around in the back of a station wagon, known in other parts of the world as an estate car or shooting brake. My parents owned a 1964 Mercury Colony Park station wagon which racked up lots of miles with my family.
Today car companies are bringing back the station wagon but they do not call it a station wagon because it is a lousy name. They are calling the new station wagons a crossover. Meaning it is a cross between an SUV and a sedan but let’s face it they are really station wagons.
I am thinking maybe I should get a classic station wagon like the Volvo 1800ES to knock around in and transport stuff that will not fit in the regular car. It’s either this or an old pick-up truck.
Here are some favorite old estate cars, station wagons and shooting brakes.
The Intermeccanica Murena above is one of the best looking station wagons ever made in my opinion. It has a Ford 429 cid engine. There were only 11 of these beauties made between 1967 and 1969.
In 1955 Chevrolet introduced the Nomad – a two door “station wagon”. This very sporty design changed the concept of what a station wagon could be.
If you look a little deeper there are some station wagons (called estate cars by the British) that are interesting especially the one-off concept cars. The real sporty ones are known as shooting brakes, also a British term.
According to Dictionary.com a station wagon is, “an automobile with one or more rows of folding or removable seats behind the driver and no luggage compartment but an area behind the seats into which suitcases, parcels, etc., can be loaded through a tailgate”. This definition does not mention the room for the dog and the hunting rifles in the back.
The origin of the term station wagon is American from around 1925-1930. What station wagons were around in 1925? They were all woodies I think – this was way before my time.
Estate car is a station wagon and the term originated around 1945-1950. Shooting brake also means station wagon and the term originated around 1910-1915. Both of these phrases are British in origin and an earlier definition of shooting brake is “a light horse-drawn wagonette”. Shooting brake was the first phrase to mean station wagon! Cheap provisional insurance is a good idea no matter which model you choose.
Once again the Americans go their own way with the English language – why didn’t we just call a station wagon a shooting brake instead of making up a new term? Let’s face it shooting brake is a much cooler name than station wagon or estate car.
I suspect that car designers would have raised their game a little with the inspiration from knowing they were designing a shooting brake instead of a station wagon! And I’ll bet that there would have been more station wagons sold if they were all called shooting brakes.
Worst of all is that station wagons were replaced by the minivan – what a disgrace for a car model. It could have all been avoided with proper name management by the car companies.
This Nomad concept above looks great but we did not see it go to production. Probably replaced by another minivan.
The Mustang station wagon, above, was an ambitious effort by private designers Barney Clark, Bob Cumberford, and Jim Licata inspired by the Chevrolet Nomad. This one off concept was built by Intermeccanica who have been involved in a lot of cool cars.
But they only built one although there are others who have copied their idea and built their own Mustang Station Wagon.
Maybe a 1965 Mustang Shooting Brake would have been a success?
Below are Mercury Colony Park sales brochures – this brings back memories. Ours was a teal color with fake wood veneer – I did not realize it was really “rich mahogany-toned paneling” – it says so right in the sales brochure.