The Useless Estate Car
Today there are quite a few contenders for that dubious accolade, possible exemplified best by the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake. The idea of tacking a glassy, generous box onto the boot of a saloon, maybe even lengthening it a bit, in order to make something supremely useful just isn’t sexy in the 21st Century. People don’t want to be thought of as saddoes, who are only at their happiest bustling around B&Q with a groaning trolley of timber flooring. No, their lifestyle choices are better and, whilst they might need a bit of added loadspace for windsurfer accoutrements, old school golf clubs or just to fit in an extra Louis Vuitton hatbox, it’s important that the car doesn’t look in the least bit practical.
Battersea coachbuilders FLM Panelcraft were there back in 1969 with their conversion of the Rover P6. Known for a while as the Estoura (possibly a coming together of estate and tourer) and produced with the assistance of Crayford for the interior, it was not the most sympathetic of transitions. Both technical restraints and a dogmatic adherence to the saloon’s roofline resulted in a rather clumsy drooping rear added to what should be one of the nineteen-sixties’ cleanest looking saloons. Loadspace was correspondingly poor and, although FLM drew staff from the respected firms of both Corsica and James Young, by then the cost of labour meant that the conversions were neither as refined nor as rust proof as they might have been.
Rover had a good looking, yet practical, prototype of an SD1 Estate but, unless you count the rebadged ‘Rover’ Montego Estate and excluding Land/Rovers, the 1994 400 Series was the first official Rover Estate, followed by the 2001 75 Tourer. I feel they might have been missing out.