When the rich hunted for more than just parking spaces
When I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, station wagons — those long four-door sedans, with their fold-down back seats and split-tailgates — were emblematic, along with split-level bungalows and strip malls, of middle class suburban living.
But the just-folkswagons that I associate exclusively with middle class nuclear families (mom, dad, 2.3 children, a dog, and a mortgage), have surprisingly aristocratic roots — a fact driven home recently, right down the middle of West Broadway Avenue, in the form of a singular-looking old Rolls-Royce, carried on the back of a flatbed truck (headed to Point Grey, I believe).
The rich ancestor of all those middle class station wagons
Upwards of 90 years old, and sporting side body panels made of oak wood behind the engine and around the passenger compartment, the Rolls-Royce was styled as a uniquely-British category of rich person’s ride called a “shooting-brake” — the direct ancestor of the modern five-door station wagon.
“Shooting-brake” was a term coined in the 19th century, before the advent of motor cars and referred to any bespoke vehicle designed to carry shooting parties, their equipment, their dogs and their game, to and from the hunt.
By the late 1920s, the shooting-brake was eclipsed by a dual-purpose style of automobile that was equally suited to carrying shooting parties and their equipage to and from the hunt or guests and their luggage to and from railway stations. This was first referred to as an estate car and then as a station wagon.
Rolls-Royce hasn’t offered a shooting-brake model for years, but in 2015 the company floated a bizarre video of a chunky-looking shooting-brake concept. It was designed by the Dutch firm Niels van Roij around a Rolls-Royce Ghost chassis and apparently catered exclusively to dogs. Click the images to enlarge them.