Jargon Buster – Sportbrake, Sports Tourer, Shooting Brake

When hunting for a new or used car you will always see a bewildering array of different names for models of cars but within that there will also be common terms used across brands and models that are not obvious what they refer too. One of these terms is the use of words like Sportbrake and Shooting Brake but what does it all mean?

It All Started With Shooting..Nearly

The original term Shooting Brake was used as far back as the 19th century in Britain and described a vehicle built for carrying a shooting party and all it’s equipments and game. The term Brake specifically referred to a category of carriage from when horses were used but stuck as the Shooting Brake was created. As time went on the term was used specifically to describe custom built vehicles for the same purpose. These vehicles were built by what were, and still are, known as coach builders. A coach builder is a company or person that will customise the shape of cars, this is not about putting on silly body kits, it is actually about rebuilding of creating new shapes to existing cars like stretching them or adding extra doors.

The Shooting Brake evolved into something very bespoke and very high end, a coach built version of a standard car specifically to carry more things, primarily guns, dogs and a men, however this changed and uses became less focused over the years. Essentially, the overriding premise of a Shooting Brake is space and this means an estate car in one form or another.

What Happened Next

Since it started there have been thousands of different types of Shooting Brakes, some awful, some pure genius. For many, the definition of a Shooting Brake was a 2 door estate car, this really showed the car was still a sports car but just had some added boot space. In the 80s a British engineering company called Lynx created a true Shooting Brake by adding an estate boot onto a Jaguar XJS V12, it was called the Eventer and was generally very well thought of and can still be bought today on the classic car market. There was even a similar job done to a Ferrari Daytona, an example of this is taking pride of place at the Salon Privé event this month at Blenheim Palace. 

Alongside this highly expensive and rare coach building side of things the big brands have been using the term to refer to estate cars they have launched too, Mercedes, in particular, use the term Shooting Brake in a number of models. However Jaguar got rather clever with the term when they launched the XF Sportbrake, this luxury estate car, just like the Mercdes Shooting Brake has 5 doors as you would expect but using the term sport gave it a totally different feel and image. No longer was there a whiff of hunting and elitism about the term, the car was about flexibility, storage and space but also about sporty performance which is at the heart of every Jaguar.

If you were to cut away all the history of the Brake related names and looked at what you are likely to see on the market now as a buyer then you are looking at an estate car. But if a brand chooses to use any variation on Shooting Brake to describe such a car you can rest assured they are aiming to give it a feel of luxury, the term stems from wealth and will remain associated with it until it becomes so diluted perhaps one day it will no longer have any meaning at all.