We’ve all grown accustomed to relying on the trusty Land Rover when it comes to transporting shooting parties and equipment to and fro. But despite how great it is, with its masses of luggage space and four-wheel drive, we decided more research was needed on the type of car specifically designed to serve all the seasoned shooter’s possible needs – the shooting brake.
The term ‘shooting brake’ was first coined in the early 1900s, when wealthy hunters began to find it impractical to transport people, guns and dogs together in their usual cars – largely due to lack of space and off-road capabilities.
Consequently, coachbuilders were commissioned to design a solution to this problem. And thus the shooting brake was born – an upmarket sports car, but with the extra luggage space of a saloon. The 1910 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Shooting Brake (pictured above) was one of the first ever developed.
It goes without saying that as stunning as this 1910 Rolls Royce is, it would be a tad conspicuous on today’s roads. Nor would it fulfill the off-road demands required for today’s shooting cars. The good news, however, is that several car companies have continued to develop shooting brakes. And we decided to narrow down the four best on the market today:
1) Bentley Continental Flying Star
A Bentley is almost certainly not the first car that springs to mind when picturing a practical shooting vehicle, but bear with us. Italian luxury coachbuilders Touring Superleggera are able to craft you a custom Bentley shooting brake out of a Bentley Continental GTC convertible.
The combination of 0-60mph in under five seconds and four-wheel drive means the Flying Star gets you to your destination like lightning, while still handling whatever off road demands you require of it. Customisation is also an option, with Touring Superleggera offering anything from installing gun cases (very handy) to fitting champagne fridges (arguably equally as handy after a long shoot) into the Continental.
As with most things, however, there is a downside – the price tag. A princely sum of around £600,000 will buy you the standard model. I suppose we’d better put the champagne back in the fridge for now.
2) Audi A6 Allroad
For those of us without £600,000 in our back pocket, Audi have developed their ‘affordable’ version of the shooting brake, costing around £45,000 – the Audi A6 Allroad.
The car has oodles of luggage room for shooting equipment, as one can tell just from looking at its long exterior. It has also been designed with off-road usage firmly in mind. Apart from the ever-essential four-wheel drive, it also sits 60 millimeters higher than the usual A6 Avant. With guards made of stainless steel to protect the undersides, it ensures the bottom of the car won’t be damaged by tricky terrain.
Furthermore, it also comes with Wi-Fi, Google Earth satnav and night vision for 24-hour navigation, which can only add to the enjoyment and practicality of your off-road experience.
3) Ferrari FF
Two things that usually do not go together are Ferrari and practicality. Indeed, the Italian supercar is virtually the definition of luxury impracticality. However, Ferrari have now turned their hand to designing their own version of a shooting brake.
The Ferrari FF has evidently been designed with the shooting market solely in mind. With their first ever four-wheel drive system, the FF can conquer off-road terrain that other Ferraris simply couldn’t.
It doesn’t just stop at four-wheel drive, the FF also has 450 litres of luggage room – 800 litres once you fold the back seats down. More than enough room for shooting equipment and with space to spare. Additionally, it can do 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 208mph. All in all? The Ferrari FF is living proof you don’t have to choose between speed and practicality.
As it is expected, with a Ferrari car comes a Ferrari price tag and the FF is no exception, setting you back a rather steep £226,000. But what else is to be expected from a Ferrari?
4) Mercedes CLS 63 Shooting Brake
Closer to the Audi than the Ferrari at a slightly less eye-watering price of around £48,000, Mercedes lastly offers its version of the shooting brake.
Right off the bat, this car doesn’t seem the best option if you are looking to handle challenging off-road terrain, since it is rear wheel drive only. Nevertheless, the luggage space more than makes up for it – with up to 1550 litres of room once the back seats are folded down, which even the most heavily equipped shooter would struggle to fill.
However, we can’t quite recommend opting for the £4030-worth of polished cherry wood that can be fitted into the boot (pictured). As beautiful as it looks, you would struggle to justify spending quite that much on it. Especially since all your shooting equipment would slide everywhere. Mercedes then, not quite hitting the practical notes.
Shooting brakes are a highly niche type of car, but if some of the biggest luxury car brands in the world are prepared to make specialised versions of their classics, it is clearly a lucrative niche. For affordability, you can’t beat the Audi. If money is no object – well, who doesn’t want a Bentley?