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.
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All things considered, this was one of the missed opportunities of the decade. It´s precisely the kind of reactionary “that´s not a proper [insert name of brand]”-ism that I have often heard myself supporting that put Rover in a position to reject an idea like this. Some market research might have helped. And pehaps better styling. The same thinking stopped Rover making an estate of the SD and it seems really obvious to me that a big Jaguar estate would have appealed since it epitomised Barbour´s appeal – expensive and practical – which is so of a a piece with a big strand of British design.
You are not alone in that. During the 1970’s, Bill Lyons realised the XJ’s boot was too small for his golf clubs and was discovered in one of the outbuildings of his Wappenbury Hall estate tacking string and bits of tinfoil to his Daimler Double Six in an attempt to mock up an estate version. He couldn’t make it work and abandoned the idea.
What was the rebadged “Rover” Mondeo estate?
Richard. Sorry, Montego + Maestro = Mondeo? Now corrected – I should think whilst I’m typing. Of course I meant Montego as rebadged near the end of its life!
That was also one of my questions.
The other one is: what does the blue Rover hide under its boot? It reminds me of PSA’s attempt to put a hybrid system in their cars.
Probably the spare tyre and fuel tank. The P6 saloon never had a great boot. The De Dion suspension was maybe not that space efficient and the spare took up a fair amount of space. Rover offered an extra that allowed you to bolt the pare to the top of your bootlid. Not as silly as it sounds, it actually looked quite good.
It harmed rear visibility though Rover buyers didn’t have to use their rear mirrors.
It did to a point. You would have been well advised to tick the wing mirrors box at the same time, but the slope of the boot (and the narrowness of tyres in those days, meant you still see a fair bit in the rather convex widescreen mirror,.
I remember the spare on the boot very well. The P6 apparently wasn’t that rare in Switzerland, and for me as a child, it was simply “the car with the wheel on the boot”.
Same with me. They were popular in Ireland.
And, of course, there was a Swiss P6 Simon. The elegant Graber 2 door. I think he would have done a better job of the estate.
My Mum had a red 2000TC with wire wheels, as on the Graber, plus the boot mounted spare (for holidays). I have fond memories of it, particularly spinning it on an icy road on Christmas Day and sliding neatly (due to luck, certainly not skill) sideways between 2 trees. It was undamaged, I got back onto the road, and I’ve never told her to this day!
Wow, I have never seen that before. Very handsome indeed.
There was also a convertible.
I might have seen this Graber before, but didn’t actively remember it. It looks very nice indeed.
As for a hypothetical Graber P6 estate, I’m convinced that it would have been good in a very Swiss way: side windows and roofline adjusted, clever solutions for improving boot space, nice interior trim, all executed with utmost craftmanship, and unaffordable…
With a nice built-in roof/ski rack?
It’s nice to see that again. Missed opportunity, we should all sing in unison. What a fine shape. I wish Graber were still around instead of ItalDesign. Imagine a Lancia-Graber. There’s a thought.