Home » These Are The New Rules Of What Makes A Car A Station Wagon

These Are The New Rules Of What Makes A Car A Station Wagon

Wagonrules
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Many, many years ago, soon after I started my career as a Professional Automotive Dipshit, I performed a colossal service to humankind: I codified the rules for what defined a station wagon. This was, to my absolute horror, a solid decade ago, and I’m realizing now that these rules need to be restated, and, I think, expanded, just a bit. The basic rules still stand; however, in our era of crossovers and SUVs, I’m realizing that the Wagon Rules need to formally accommodate them, otherwise we’re all in grave danger of tearing ourselves apart. So, let’s get some order back into the universe.

This need was alerted to me via Twitter, when I was tagged in a post discussing a recent Jalopnik article about all the wagons currently for sale in the 2023 model year:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The subsequent thread of twitter-fighting about what is or isn’t a wagon was my wake up call that my people need me, and that this madness must be stopped. We all need to agree on just what makes a wagon, which is why I implore you to pay attention.

First, let’s recap the original Two Rules of Wagonhood:

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Rule1

Rule 1 states that the cargo area of a wagon must be provided with side windows. The size or shape of such windows isn’t important, and the glass area of the window can be contiguous with a longer side window that extends from the rear passenger seat, if one is provided.

It should be noted here that the number of doors does not matter: two, four, or even three doors are fine. You can have two door wagons, and, of course, there’s the sporty two-door wagon variant known as the Shooting Brake:

2doorshootingbrake

A car that has no window for the cargo area is either a hatchback, or perhaps a van derived from a car, but cannot be a wagon.

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The second classic Wagonhood Rule is that the roof of a wagon must cover at least half of the cargo floor:

Rule2

This means that the roof will necessarily be a bit long, but this doesn’t affect the angle of the rear, or the type of rear door, be it tailgate, side-hinged door, hatch, or whatever. All that matters is that the roof extends over at least half of the floor space in the cargo area, even if that cargo area is small.

A good example of the roof-length rule can be seen in the Volkswagen Dasher/Passat:

Dashers

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Both versions have window area on the sides of the cargo area, but only the Dasher Wagon has a roof that extends to cover over half of the cargo floor.

In the original post, I had a few pass/fail examples:

Passfail

Okay, I think these rules still stand, and should cover most examples of wagon identification. I did realize that I needed one other rule, though:

Rule0

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Rule 0 is the Two-Box rule. Now, I don’t think this will come up much, but I realized that a number of vans could pass Rules 1 and 2, but they’re clearly not station wagons, because a Wagon Must Be A Two-Box Design. That is, a wagon needs a hood of some kind, even if it has no engine in there or is a bit stumpy or whatever.

Volkswagen tried calling the Microbus a Station Wagon in ads in the 1960s, but we all knew it really wasn’t one: it’s a van. Because a station wagon needs a hood, hence Rule 0.

Okay, now let’s get into what I’m calling the Crossover Clauses. First, know this: Crossovers and SUVs are station wagons if they meet the now Three Rules of Wagonhood. So they can be wagons, but they are a subcategory of wagons, based on the following:

Crossoverclausea

Crossover Clause A reminds us that if the proportions of a given wagon have a higher ratio of height to overall length and a comparatively high hood and beltline, they enter the subcategory of SUV or crossover. I wish I could have hard and fast ratios for this, but the wide variety of vehicle sizes and proportions make this nearly impossible. So, this is a bit subjective on paper, but pretty obvious in practice.

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Does the vehicle look tall? Is the hood high? Then it’s likely an SUV/crossover.

We can further refine this subcategorization with Crossover Clause B:

Crossoverclauseb

Clause B states that both intent and ride height do matter. If a carmaker gives a vehicle a high ride height, big wheels, 4WD or AWD and a bunch of chunky cladding and a name that suggests something like rocky crags or the animals/people that bound over them, then it’s clear the intent of the vehicle is to be a crossover or SUV.

A great example of this is the AMC siblings Concorde wagon and Eagle. The Concorde wagon was a RWD family wagon, while the Eagle had 4WD and higher ground clearance and bigger wheels, and was marketed as something to take off-road or camping or adventuring or hunting the Most Dangerous Game or whatever.

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Both cars had identical sheetmetal, bodies of the exact same dimensions. Yet AMC’s intent was clear: one’s a paved-roads family car, one’s an off-road sport utility vehicle, even if no one was calling them that at the time.

Just look at how they were advertised:

Amcads

One is sold as “affordable luxury” and one is “built tough, the American Way.” It’s clear there’s very different goals for these two similar, but not the same, cars.

Make sense? Want to try a little test? Let’s do a car that meets the general Crossover Clauses, and see what we get: Hondas HR-V, one from 1999 and one from 2022:

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Grvtest

Here’s an example where both could be considered crossovers from a proportion and intent standpoint, but only one, the 1999 one, is an actual wagon. This is very clear: the 2022 HR-V lacks a cargo side window, and the roof is too short to cover more than half of the cargo floor. Essentially, the new HR-V is a crossover-ized hatchback, not a wagon.

Let’s do another Honda example:

Hondafit

The Fit is a wagon. Even if it’s small and has a very hatchback-like rear, it meets the basic criteria, so it’s a wagon.

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I hope this helps. Now more than ever it’s important that we find ways to all get along, and the first step to that is getting some real rules in place about what makes a station wagon.

Godspeed.

 

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Rafael
Rafael
1 year ago

HERESY! It gives me no pleasure to say this of such a esteemed master, but your words may start a chain of events that will COLLAPSE REALITY! I will not live in a world where a hatchback is a wagon! What is next, cats and dogs living together? “Cats” that wag their tail and slobber around, and “dogs” that scale trees and plot your murder? Certain barriers exist FOR A REASON!
I hereby propose that we bestow the title of “wagon” unto any hatchback where the cargo area is no less than X times the length of the rear passenger area, were X is to be determined by decency and sanity!
I HAVE SPOKEN!

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago

As with the VW Type II, other manufacturers have named “vans with seats” as “wagon”, and they’re wrong. Ford is egregious on this. For several decades, an Econoline with seats was called “Club Wagon”. Not. A. Wagon.

The current Transit Connect with seats is called a “wagon”. Nope, it sure isn’t.

Dan Blather
Dan Blather
1 year ago

> The Fit is a wagon. Even if it’s small and has a very hatchback-like rear, it meets the basic criteria, so it’s a wagon.

Seems like you need another rule, because most folks, car enthusiasts and agnostics, are going to see the Fit as a little subcompact hatchback. Not even the people that supposedly mistook a ’78 Ford Granada for a Mercedes will believe you if you told them a Fit is a wagon.

I’ll propose this: for a four door car, the length of the roof over the cargo area is at least 40%? 45% 50%? of the total length of the roof. For a two door car, the length of the roof over the cargo area is at least 60% of the total length of the roof.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
1 year ago

As another poster pointed out, I think that rear overhang is a key, albeit somewhat subjective requirement. I’ve owned a Honda Civic (EG) and a Honda Fit and am a huge fan of both cars. Yes, they swallow cargo like a wagon but there is no way they are anything but hatchbacks. The EF Civic is a hatchback, and the EF Wagovan is a wagon. This can be seen with the differing window treatment and increased rear overhang of the Wagovan.

My 2007 Suburban is most assuredly NOT a wagon, although the argument might be made for the original 1937 model.

The AMC Eagle IS a wagon as are the Subaru Crosstrek, Audi Allroad and VW Golf Alltrack. If it’s using the same basic body but it’s on some stilts and has some cladding it is still a wagon. The Forester is not even though it is rather wagon-like as the proportions are off.

That 1999 Honda HR-V example is difficult. Too tall in beltline and body proportions to be a wagon, not really a crossover, almost more of an MPV. I’d probably go MPV as long as we don’t demand it have sliding doors to be part of that category.

For Minis I suppose the Countryman and Clubman could both be considered wagons, although interestingly enough Mini markets the Countryman as a crossover – I suppose for differentiation with the Clubman, which they market as a “sports hatchback”. Both of these models are really close to being a hatchback, and I wouldn’t have a serious argument with anyone who said so. The additional rear overhang from the hatch model is minimal, but I would say the small additional overhang and the roof extension to cover more of the cargo area are just enough to push them into wagon category.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
1 year ago

Good additions and I still use this as the definitive reference for wagon arguments. My only notes would be that “crossover” is a much more generic term than anything that defines a class. In that, there are SUV wagons and wagons and crossover wagons are just a mesh of the two. So they are all wagons, but it’s a sliding scale from wagon to SUV wagon based on… let’s say length to height/beltline? Obviously, some crossovers aren’t wagons at all. In other words, I think the layer missing from this guide is a hierarchical taxonomy where vehicles are classified like the animal kingdom. Forester – genus crossover – family wagon – kingdom passenger vehicles. Crosstrek – Genus crossover – family hatchback – kingdom passenger vehicles.

Doug Kretzmann
Doug Kretzmann
1 year ago

another reason to love my Honda Fit – it’s really a wagon !

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago

Oh, hell: I see schisms already.
Unity, people: we need UNITY or the CUVs will overrun us!

Fucking splitters
😉

Johnathan Edmund
Johnathan Edmund
1 year ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Blasphemy! Down with the heretics!!!
We mustn’t allow such cunning deceptions to taint the holiness and esteem of our beloved wagons.

#wagonelitistjerks

Justin Haas
Justin Haas
1 year ago

I think Rule 1 needs an amendment to state that the length of the window must be at least 75% of the length of the rear passenger window. That eliminates obvious hatchbacks like the Honda Fit and most CUVs.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
1 year ago

I am sorry, but there is no way that the Fit or the Civic hatchbacks are wagons. If you look at it, you think “hatchback,” and not “wagon.” That should count for something, kind of like the spirit of a law vs. the letter of the same law.

Faux woodgrain may influence the wagon classification as well.

Related: now I want an Eagle.

Chris D
Chris D
11 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

Borrow one. You will then realize that buying one is not a good idea. They are slow, thirsty, not well built, not very comfortable or spacious. Almost anything else is better.
They can have one at the AMC museum for people to look at. As daily drivers, all sentiment and nostalgia aside, they’re lousy.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago

I think there’s a market for crossover lowering kits. Call it the wagonizer.

Last Pants
Last Pants
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

https://www.motor1.com/news/572268/ford-explorer-st-657-horsepower-supercar-killer/

I think suvs look awesome lowered. Not sure if this is a crossover though. I’m still confused on that.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago

So the early Jaguar XKE 2+2 with fold down seats is a wagon? Cool!

It seems like there are cars with fold down rear seats that would be wagons when they are down but hatchbacks when they are up by virtue of the center of the cargo area moving.

Ncbrit
Ncbrit
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

No. It’s an estate car.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 year ago

This confirms what I always knew: the Cadillac CTS-V was NOT a wagon.

Bastards.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 year ago

Edited to add: if I’m understanding correctly, my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited MIGHT BE a wagon. Although it has a 2″ lift, it is in proportion to the extended wheel base/roofline. If nothing else, an unmodified JKU is PROBABLY a wagon.

Johnathan Edmund
Johnathan Edmund
1 year ago

I’ve been around long enough to remember reading your initial Wagon Rules (and taking some issues) but I have to disagree here. I’ve got my flame suit on so let’s dive in.

First off, I will generally agree that SUVs and some CUVs can qualify as having a wagon bodystyle, especially when you consider “wagons” like the Wagoneer. The problem is, the term station wagon has been around a lot longer than SUV or CUV. While certain vehicles may have been advertised as a Wagon (and therefore deserve honorary wagondom) they would be more appropriately re-categorized as SUVs. As such, I feel it wiser to completely separate SUV and CUV from wagons, as opposed to adding them as sub-categories. For instance, a Suburban or Excursion would qualify as a “wagon/subclass SUV” but by no means should they be referred to as wagons.

My biggest two gripes with the rules you’ve given is that they barely take into account ride-height to roof-height ratio, and don’t at all take into consideration rear overhang.

For the first issue, a good example would be a first gen Forester compared to a legacy. Foresters, especially older models, can cause heated debates regarding their classification. It’s my equally worthless opinion that foresters, while relatively low to the ground, maintain too high of a roofline by comparison to be considered a wagon. It’s less about ground clearance and more about the ratios between length/width and also height from floor pan to roof. I would consider them to be among the first CUVs, along with the CRV and RAV4. This also is what leads me to staunchly believe an Eagle is specifically a wagon (albeit lifted). It maintains identical proportions to its 2wd counterpart just with a raised ground clearance. Conversely, the new Outback’s have grown too blobby and plastic clad to be considered anything but a CUV. MAYBE I’d consider it a wagon if I saw one in person with all the plastic cladding and chunky roof rack taken off, but that’s not how they come from the factory, nor is it a guarantee that the sheet metal itself hasn’t also grown too bulbous for wagon classification.

Lastly, and as mentioned earlier, a large issue I take with the rules is the inconsideration regarding rear overhang. EVERY wagon I’ve ever seen that was unquestionably a wagon, has had a solid amount of rear overhang when compared to the length of the car. This is why, again, in my equally worthless opinion, no Mini qualifies as a wagon. They all possess too little rear overhang. To me, they range from hatchbacks to CUVs. And yes, I am aware that they come with split barn doors so “how is that a hatchback?”. Hatchback is a colloquialism that more generally refers to a specific bodystyle. A bodystyle reminiscent of Mini Coopers, Honda Fits, and VW Golfs. A wagon used to be a wooden carriage pulled by horses/ox/etc, that doesn’t mean a Roadmaster isn’t ackhtually a wagon.

I’ll also take the time to go on record and say the Flex is a wagon, it’s an SUV/CUV, and the Panamera whatever should more accurately qualify as a shooting brake but is close enough to let slide. And the wagovan is a Wago…..van. It deserves its own legendary place in car-dom and is too cool to prescribe to our categories.

Rodney West
Rodney West
1 year ago

I think you are on to something. I’d add to that the following:.
1. It’s not a true wagon if the rear door opens upward. If only opens upward then its a hatchback.
2. If it didnt come with faux classy wood panels as an option.. its not a wagon.
3. If the kids couldnt sit in cargo area facing backwards to make faces at following drivers, its not a wagon.
4. if the rear window could not be retracted, and allow exhaust gases to put the above rearward facing kids to sleep with carbon monoxide poisoning.. its not a wagon.

Johnathan Edmund
Johnathan Edmund
1 year ago
Reply to  Rodney West

I’ve always viewed it like how all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are square.

(Most) wagons are hatchbacks (Volvo 240, Camry wagon, Buick Roadmaster) but not all hatchbacks are wagons (Veloster, Cooper, Focus).

Chris D
Chris D
11 months ago
Reply to  Rodney West

A Volvo V70 has a rear door that opens upward. Is it therefore not a station wagon??!!

Hairy_baboon
Hairy_baboon
1 year ago

I think shooting brake vs wagon is a function of taper.

I would add a 4th rule for wagon vs hatchback aspect, you’ve got to have about 1.5 times the length in the rear cargo area as the depth of the 2nd row seating. If it meets 0-3, then it’s a hatchback or wagon, but with my proposed #4 you get the distinction.

I don’t think anyone made it, but if you took say an old volvo brick wagon and put the rear wheels really far back, I’d say it’s ugly, but still a wagon. I think that’s what you’re looking for with your overhang complaint – the extended rear cargo area vs the pitiful hatchback style.

Johnathan Edmund
Johnathan Edmund
1 year ago
Reply to  Hairy_baboon

I think a lot of it comes down to proportions. Kind of the age old “I know it when I see it”.

I completely agree regarding your comments about shooting brakes. As far as the idea of a Volvo brick with wheels way at the back, it hasn’t been made (to the best of my knowledge) so it’s hard to say exactly what it would look like. I agree that the brick Volvo is VERY much a wagon. So much so that I’d agree with your statement about throwing a mini-esque wheelbase on it and it’s still being a wagon.

The problem, in my opinion, is that the rules are less binary and more like sliding scales. The Volvo is SO clearly a wagon (sedan counterpart, loooong extended roof, rear overhang, optional third row I think) that even reducing the rear overhang isn’t enough to make it not instantaneously recognizable as a wagon. Minis, on the other hand, have those “sliders” adjusted towards hatchback. Stubby nose and rear overhang, with (most) having a short wheelbase, and a relatively small cargo area. The only thing that changes much with minis are the bigger ones which start transitioning into CUVs as they get taller and more bulbous, not just longer.

It’s the reason an AMC Eagle is clearly a wagon on stilts, while the late model Outback looks like a wagon on stilts that had its roofline tapered in at the back and then got trapped in a Golden Corral.

Kurt Hahn
Kurt Hahn
1 year ago

I’ll add this to the overhang discussion: Citroen used a modified, longer chassis with a longer wheelbase for the wagon version of the CX sedan. (Later they also used this chassis for the top-end sedan CX Prestige). According to their marketing material, they did that in order to make it (the wagon) look less awkward, because it would have had a long overhang otherwise.

Uncle D
Uncle D
1 year ago

When we were looking for a new vehicle for my wife she was pretty firmly in the “I like to sit high up” camp that is SUV/CUV land. I prefer a sedan myself and saw a compromise in the Outback. Yes, it sits a bit higher than a sedan, but it is much closer to a sedan in ride and performance than the Forester. That is why I see it as a wagon and lobbied for it. All Subies are AWD so I would not consider that a factor. In the end, she liked the Outback (with the 4-cylinder turbo) so we ended up with an Onyx XT. To me, it’s a wagon while the Forester is an SUV/CUV.

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
1 year ago

So MINIs are wagons then, right?

What about a pickup with a glass-windowed camper top?

I currently own 1-3 wagons, depending on interpretation!

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
1 year ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

SOME Minis are station wagons, but not ALL Minis are station wagons.

And.

SOME station wagons are Minis, but not ALL station wagons are Minis.

quod erat demonstrandum

Dave Horchak
Dave Horchak
1 year ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

So the mini is a thumb?

Steven Chabot
Steven Chabot
1 year ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

A pickup with a topper proves these rules need some refining. I’d argue that a wagon needs sedan proportions, though that’s still probably too vague

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Chabot

I think a pickup with a cap still just a pickup. Unless the bed is full carpeted and furnished with seats, lights, and climate control, in which case you shoulda just bought a Suburban.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
1 year ago

What about a Studebaker Wagonaire?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Chabot

I’m of the opinion that any easily removable or extraneous part, like a truck cap or the spoiler on the Fit, should not factor into the equation.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Yeah, I noticed the inclusion of the Fit spoiler in that graphic. Color me very skeptical on that. I guess the one way I’d buy it is if that spoiler is present on every Fit model worldwide, at which point I could consider it an essential design element, kind of like fender cladding that adds an inch or more to the width of the wheel well.

JRW
JRW
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Chabot

“The cargo area must be contiguous with the seating area.”

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

Rules need a corollary regarding separation of the cargo area from the seating area. That would address all but Avalanches/Escalade EXTs. I guess the corollary would have to be something akin to “If the cargo area can be sealed from the passenger area, then it’s not a wagon.”

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
1 year ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

MINI is an interesting one. I thought the same thing, that they should be wagons, when I drove by one yesterday. But then I took a closer look at one later when I was walking my dog. That closer look led me to believe that they shouldn’t be because the cargo area is so small that it doesn’t seem to extend beyond the C-pillar, thus no window in the cargo area. It was dark while I was walking so I could be wrong though.

CD_Repoman
CD_Repoman
1 year ago

The Mini Clubman would be the “wagon”, it is slightly longer and has storage space which the regular mini really doesn’t; as well as a longer rear window into the storage area. It’s not great for hauling anything though; unless you put down the back seats, so that’s a wrinkle, but I don’t think disqualifying.

Now if the regular Mini didn’t have backseat and was two door it might also qualify as a wagon. There was a version modded like this to lighten the weight, but the name eludes me at this moment.

mcsnee76
mcsnee76
1 year ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

I think the roof doesn’t extend quite far enough over the cargo space (at least on my F55). That said, I keep the back seats folded down at all times, so functionally the cargo space extends back from the front seats… making it a wagon.

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

Yes, except you’re wrong. A 2-door wagon is a shooting break. One is not a sub-set of another. A shooting break has all the wagon characteristics you outlined (and to your credit, I think you’re mostly correct on the other points) but there is no such thing as a 2-door wagon.

But this should also be refined further to differentiate wagon vs. hatchback. (generically, A hatchback being a wagon with less cargo area) A Fit is absolutely not a wagon. And if the window rule does not differentiate this correctly, you need a different rule.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike

Oh, I’ll fight you on this all day long. Two-door wagons absolutely (used to) exist, and the differentiation from a shooting brake is the intent.
If the intent is sporting (and especially if the brake is derived from a sports car) it’s a shooting brake. Examples: Volvo 1800ES, Lancia Beta HPE, Reliant Scimitar.
If the intent is hauling people or cargo, and if the car is derived from a 2-door sedan, it’s a 2-door station wagon. Examples: 1960 Chevrolet Brookwood, 1961 Ford Falcon, 1964-5 Chevelle 300.

Now some cars do straddle the line. Examples: Couple generations of 80s Honda Civics hatchbacks, Pinto, Vega.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike

The EPA officially categorized the Fit as a wagon.

If I were to add a third rule it would be “An otherwise-qualifying design is not a wagon if a different body style in the same carline was sold as the wagon”. That would exclude the ’80s Civic hatchback, and things like the Ford Focus ZX5.

“Shooting brake” has two subclauses to me; there must *not* be a C-pillar in the same area where a 4-door wagon might have one, and it must be sufficiently upscale (so, not a Morris Minor Traveller or Chevy Vega Kammback).

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

The EPA also calls the PT Cruiser a light truck. So there goes their credibility in this discussion.
Also, the PT Cruiser qualifies as a wagon under these rules.

WhoDey Buckeye
WhoDey Buckeye
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike

I’m sorry but a 2-door wagon absolutely exists and is very different from a shooting brake. I don’t see how anyone can look at a car like a 1955 Chevrolet 150 handyman 2-door wagon and confuse it with a sporty shooting brake like a Ferrari FF.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
1 year ago
Reply to  WhoDey Buckeye

What do you call the Scion iQ/Aston Martin Cygnet? It has two doors, 4 seats, and a cargo area with glass windows on the sides. Possibly as much as 50-100% of the cargo area can be seen through said windows.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

Does it pass the 2-box design requirement, though? I’d call it a 1-box.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_body_configurations

Captain Zoll
Captain Zoll
1 year ago
Reply to  WhoDey Buckeye

or furthermore, confuse a ’55 chevy 150 handyman with a ’55 chevy nomad.
one is 2-door sedan based, one is “coupe” based.

Who Knows
Who Knows
1 year ago

I just looked up shooting brakes, and apparently the original, classical definition is quite different than the modern, luxury take- “The shooting brake, which began in England in the 1890s, was a wagon (more specifically a type of wagonette) designed to transport hunting spoils, gun racks, and ammunition on shooting trips.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_brake

Considering my 2 door XJ would certainly be far more useful as a hunting vehicle than a Ferrari FF, I’m going to claim that it is a true, classical, offroad shooting brake. I don’t hunt, but I’m guessing I’d be infinitely more OK with having a deer carcass strapped to the hood of my Jeep while driving out of the woods than any Ferrari owner.

Johnathan Edmund
Johnathan Edmund
1 year ago
Reply to  Who Knows

You’re spot on with the history of the term “Shooting Brake”. That said, you have to picture what type of hunting was being done (and by who) when this term came about.

These were cars designed for posh old Brit’s who wanted something sporty but with enough room for a shotgun and small game. Essentially they’d use shooting brakes to be able to take quick spontaneous trips out to shoot small game (quail, pheasant, rabbit, I have no idea what’s across the pond) and then come back. This is also why you’ll see it sometimes spelled out as a Shooting Break. While not the correct spelling, it does run parallel with the purpose of the vehicle.

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

Yes, I would. (In fact, that was family transportation when I was 5… Or maybe it was a Type 4… But I digress…)

“Sportier” is very subjective, and “generally longer hood” isn’t much better. Conversely, it’s a clear, bright-line rule: a 2-door wagon is a shooting brake. (Frankly, most 2-doors are more sporty by their very nature, so this still works.)

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike

A shooting break is what happens when you’re reloading. A shooting brake is a type of two-door station wagon 🙂

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
1 year ago

Well said! Especially because I’ve been screaming for years that most of these things we are calling “SUVs” and “Cross-overs” are actually wagons with better PR. I can’t find any record of it, but I for real remember either Car & Driver or Motor Trend in the 80’s awarding the Chevy Suburban a “Station Wagon of the Year” award.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Actually some states like New York register wagons as “suburbans”. That’s what my Volvo 740 was registered as.
International Harvester Travelalls , Chevy Suburbans, we’re all wagons originally.

What’s a 1980 Jeep Wagoner according to Jeep ?

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/8b/87/c9/8b87c9a3e822e4a10ebe453a925e7507.jpg

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
1 year ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

My Land Cruiser title says wagon, who am I to argue? Originally, before the term SUV caught on, they were just called wagons.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 year ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Apparently you’re wrong. I tried to buy a Mazda 3 wagon around that time and was told by the savvy salesperson that no such vehicle exists. He told me the hatchback version is a “sport.”
So that’s what you have there. Not a wagon or hatchback, but a “sport.”

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 year ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Sorry not meant for you
Still trying to figure out this website

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 year ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

The real mathematical difference between a wagon and SUV can be found at an autocross. If you show up with a wagon, you pay your fee and then go race. If you bring an SUV, they have to bust out a tape measure to determine the ratio of track width to height. I believe it must be less than 1:1 for the vehicle to be allowed to race.

Chris Trapp
Chris Trapp
1 year ago

This is the type of clarification the world needs. However, I think there are still exceptions to these rules. What about panel wagons? Ones for commercial use. A 1959 Chevy Sedan Delivery is clearly a 2 door, window-less Brookwood. The Brookwood is clearly a station wagon. The “Sedan Delivery” is clearly not a sedan, or shooting brake. So is it a hearse? Could a hearse be considered a wagon?

I’m splitting hairs…But Torch wouldn’t have it any other way.

Steven Chabot
Steven Chabot
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Trapp

It’s a van

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Chabot

No, you can stand up in a van.

I will also fight Torch to my final day that wagon based sedan deliveries, made on the same assembly line of the same components save window application, are wagons.

Rafael
Rafael
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Trapp

Some wagons lost their rear windows due to evolutionary pressure from the environment – however, if they can still mate with regular wagons to produce viable offspring, there is a case to be made that they are still wagons.
I might be a bit tired and mixing subjects while I cram for my finals.

Which is on itself a big problem, considering that I’m not enrolled in any such course, having already graduated 20 years ago in a completely different field.

David Smith
David Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Trapp

Sedan delivery is a job I’d like to keep
but it sure is hard to find.

Jim Oldham
Jim Oldham
1 year ago

For me it is simple, if there is a 4 door sedan with a rear window in front of a separate trunk lid, the version of the same car with a roofline that extends all the way to the back is a Station Wagon. It can have a hatch or a separate tailgate /window. Everything else is something else.

Maymar
Maymar
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Oldham

Yeah, how many station wagons are there that don’t have a related sedan? Using the Fit as an example, there are related sedans in other markets, but they’re about a half meter longer. I think another good wagon rule is that if it’s physically shorter than its sedan sibling, it’s a hatch, while if it’s the same length or longer, it’s a wagon.

Having a sedan sibling requirement might also help weed out crossovers – I’m not convinced the Subaru Forester has ever been anything but a crossover.

Chris Parkin
Chris Parkin
1 year ago

Can we get an exception for rule 0? The Rover SD1 and Sterling 827sli come to mind. Both were designed as “Sporty” sedans but could be converted into a station wagon. I remember seeing the below advertisement touting this ability.

https://i0.wp.com/www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1980-Rover-Brochure-Outtake.jpg

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Parkin

that’s just called a hatchback

Marseppus
Marseppus
1 year ago

Interesting, then what is the Nissan Skyline C110 Wagon (1973-1977) considered to be? It has no glass for the cargo area, but in every other way is a wagon. I can’t bring myself to call it a hatchback.

https://i0.wp.com/www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/nissan_skyline_history_picture-23.jpg

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
1 year ago
Reply to  Marseppus

I would call that “a gratuitously big blind spot.”

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  Marseppus

I did not recall this vehicle. I, too, would like to hear the official pronouncement on it.
It’s kinda odd-but pretty cool no matter what you call it. Thanks for posting it!

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
1 year ago
Reply to  Marseppus

I think that’s called a liftback, of the family hatchback

HeyCharger
HeyCharger
1 year ago
Reply to  Marseppus

Maybe a delivery? Like a four-door panelvan?

Ashton Knox
Ashton Knox
1 year ago

Dangerous game you are playing. What if someone’s crossover identifies as a wagon? Who are you to tell it what it is? 😉

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago

This is what the world needs right now. Someone to take charge of the important issues and lay down some rules.

Thank you Torch!

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 year ago

Whew, now I can get some sleep since we have rules for wagons, for you know, wagons rule!

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago

Is that window in the Fit really a window? Or a fake window that you can’t see through with glass on the outside and plastic on the inside?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

I would also contend that the spoiler, which you have included in your “roof” length calculation, doesn’t count as roof, and thus the roof to cargo coverage needs to be recalculated.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago

OK then. I’m still challenging the spoiler as roof assertion. Partly because it’s removeable, and partly because I feel like it.
Here you can see that without the offending appendage, the cargo coverage is less than 50% and thus, it no longer qualifies as a wagon. It’s science.

https://i.ibb.co/rxZ0Fmw/Screenshot-2022-09-01-192130.png

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago

I can vouch for that. I own one and look out of it over my shoulder (at least the one on the right side) every time I back the car up, even with the rear view camera.

The spoiler counts on 3rd generation Fits as pictured since it’s standard equipment and an integral part of the design. Base model 1st and 2nd gens are spoilerless so that assertion may be on firmer ground with the older models. But they were still classed as “small station wagons” by the EPA.

Buzz
Buzz
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

It is a real window, not a ‘”DLO Fail.”

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 year ago

Well, you can tell by my user name that I am very glad to see the subject matter in this comprehensive article !!

Good work JT!!!

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