Why did they never build these shooting brakes?

The rakish shooting brake shape has intrigued manufacturers, coachbuilders and customers alike for years, but of the cars that have been built or converted, there have been varying levels of success. These are our favourite oddball shooting brakes that we wish had made full production…

One man’s vision

In the late 60s, Luigi Chinetti Jnr., son of the famous East Coast racer and Ferrari concessionaire, had an idea for a shooting brake version of the luxurious 330 GT 2+2. Some sketches were made (with the help of commercial artist Bob Peak) and, once the design was finalised, taken to Fredo Vignale, the man charged with realising the vision. The result was a real curiosity. Almost every single body panel was changed and, at first glance, it doesn’t really look like a Ferrari at all. Sadly, the quirky shooting brake was to be Vignale’s final work before his untimely death in 1969. 

Fast forward to 1995 and another interesting idea was mooted in a somewhat similar vein. The Sultan of Brunei was the man, and the Ferrari 456 estate was the vision. Dubbed the ‘Venice’, Pininfarina built a mere seven cars (though the Sultan only took six), reputedly at around $1.5m each. 

Touring’s last hurrah… for 40 years, at least

Call it sacrilege, but this is one Lamborghini we’re pleased went under the knife. The 1966 400GT Flying Star II was the final work of Carrozzeria Touring, before its revival in 2006. Decades later, the one-off Lambo – created as a prototype concept for a potential 400GT replacement – lent its name to Touring’s shooting brake interpretation of the Bentley Continental GT.

The car that Jaguar never built

Although it wasn’t strictly built by Jaguar, the shooting brake version of the XJS, aka the Lynx Eventer, simply had to be on our list. It was remarkable in two ways, both that it was the logical development of the unpractical XJS that Jaguar surprisingly never chose to build, and secondly that it was lighter and allegedly even better to drive than the standard car. Just 67 Eventers were hand-built by Lynx, the UK-based engineering and design company, making them extremely rare (though there’s one currently for sale in the Classic Driver Market). We especially love the long, uninterrupted rear side windows that seem to go on forever. 

A long-kept secret

Porsche’s first attempt at a shooting brake (of sorts) was an elongated version of the 928 in 1987, known internally as the H50. However, owing to a serious lack of rigidity, it was quickly consigned to the nether regions of Porsche’s top-secret storage facility, where it was kept for a staggering 25 years before finally being revealed to the public at Pebble Beach in 2012. Who’d have thought that the competent Panamera’s spiritual ancestor was binned for being too wobbly.

The point of a shooting brake is, first and foremost, to allow more room for people and luggage (originally members of the hunting party and their guns and dogs). The Porsche 356 Kruezer fulfils precisely none of those criteria. Conceived and built by the late John Dixon, the renowned American Porsche collector and owner of the significant Taj Ma Garaj collection, the Kruezer is off-the-wall and, thanks to the Carrera twin-cam engine filling up the rear hatch, purely aesthetic.

A plethora of Aston Martin shooting brakes

Inevitably, there have been many attempts at Aston Martin shooting brakes, ranging from Radford’s take on the DB5 to Bertone’s Rapide-based Jet 2+2. We’d go for the slightly rarer DB6 shooting brake, also built by Harold Radford Ltd, with its vast payload and useful roof rack. Well, that or the Lagonda Rapide Shooting Brake. Conceived as an idea by David Brown for an estate-style Rapide pitched at families, the project was shelved due to poor sales and a car was never actually built… until 2003, that is, when an Aston enthusiast found Brown’s original drawings and proceeded with a £100,000 conversion. The result is magnificent.

For a slightly left-field approach, though, how about the oh-so-80s Lagonda V8 Shooting Brake by Roos – a perfect demonstration of Swiss coachbuilding creativity. Wedge!

Italian style, English heritage

The Maserati Touring Bellagio Fastback is the work of Carrozzeria Touring once again, and based on the pretty fifth-generation Quattroporte. Perfectly blending Italian style with British hunting heritage, just four Bellagio Fastbacks were painstakingly hand-built, and include bespoke features such as a concealed gun compartment and a dog-barrier, perfect for keeping hairs out of the caviar chilling in the in-built fridge. Despite its extra set of doors, the Bellagio Fastback is a shooting brake in the truest sense. We’ll see you on the next drive.