What Is a Shooting Brake and Why Are They So Collectible?

You may or may not have heard the term shooting brake in reference to some hatchback-like sports cars, but they are so uncommon that at the same time, you may have not. Even if you’ve seen a shooting brake drive by or even at a car show, chances are you’ve questioned the seemingly odd and exotic-looking design of the vehicle’s back end, but the term itself means more than you might think. A car doesn’t have to be a supercar to be considered a shooting brake, but these rare designs are often collectible nonetheless.

What is a shooting brake?

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake
The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake | Martyn Lucy, Getty Images

If you haven’t heard the term ‘shooting brake’ before, it’s because they aren’t all that common. If you saw one in person, you might take a second glance just to try and sort through what all you are looking at — they typically have sporty body lines in the front, two doors, and a weird, wagon-like hatchback that makes some of them look like a clown shoe, like the BMW Z3 coupe. You don’t have to understand the history of the shooting brake to be able to identify one once you know what you’re looking for, but it does help us sort through how the body styles have changed over the ages. When you break it down into its basics, it’s just a sports car with a flat, hatchback-like roofline. Most people either love them or hate them.

Why is it called a ‘shooting brake’

As a sports car, you might notice that there is a bit of a play on words in the name shooting brake. This will probably lead you to believe that it has a lot to do with the car’s performance, but in reality, there is more history to the term than you may think. The term shooting brake originated in England at the turn of the century as the vehicles were primarily used to transport all of the gear needed for hunting, according to Complex. The second half of the name, ‘brake,’ simply refers to the chassis, which was used to break in horses. So, it may not have as sporty of a meaning as you may have thought, but at least there is some meaning behind it — unlike the disappointingly pointless naming scheme behind Lotus cars.

What are some of the most iconic examples of these rare cars?

Shooting brakes aren’t all that common on the road today, and, in all honesty, their odd design seems to be pretty polarizing. Regardless of personal opinion, there are many different types of brakes ranging from more common, everyday varieties to higher-end supercars and even rare custom-built vehicles. Here are some famous examples of shoot brakes worth checking out:

  • BMW Z3 Coupe
  • Ferrari FF
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake
  • Fisker Surf
  • Mercedes CLS63 Shooting Brake

Part of what makes any shooting brake collectible is typical that they are so uncommon, not necessarily because they are all supercars like the Ferrari FF — because they aren’t. Though the value of each brake can vary greatly, they are typically considered collector items simply because of their rare design.

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