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The 6 most unknown estate cars

1w ago

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Personally, I've never really understood the recent craze of the SUV. They're big, they're heavy, most of them don't look very nice - and worst of all - some aren't even as practical as their saloon or even hatchback siblings.

For me, there's only a select few that I'd actually consider at some point of my life; the big Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, old G-Wagon or a Jeep Wagoneer.

Other than that, SUVs don't do me at all. Which is why I've always preferred the good-old-fashioned estate car. I'd kill to have an E34 M5 Touring at some stage of my life...

Today however, we're focusing on six estate cars that are extremely unknown. Though it must be stressed, some are unknown for very good reasons.

Alfa Romeo Gulia Colli

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nielsautos/

Just 16 of these undeniably pretty things were made by coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Colli of Milan, and it represents a true unknown oddity in Alfa Romeo's long and illustrious history.

Roughly 900 estate conversions by a range of other Italian coachbuilders were made for government departments such as the Police and even Alfa dealers, so they could use them as support vehicles. But those were more like vans with empty rear space. Only 16 left as purposely-built family estates.

It was up to the customer as to what Gulia spec he/she chose, though the majority were TIs. Allegedly, there were none based on the Super, though that would be a spec I would personally die for!

Someone even converted a TI estate into a Super, and my levels of jealousy of that guy have always been through the roof.

Nissan Skyline C10 Estate

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

I'm sure a lot of you will be aware of the 2000 GT-R that came out in 1969. The C10 generation itself is otherwise known as the 'Hakosuka' (box Skyline, quite literally).

And you can't really get more boxy than the little-known estate version. And you can't deny, it's a really pretty thing.

It wasn't a beastly thing though, unlike the GT-R; it was made between 1968-72 and the only engines available were the standard 1500 and 1800cc 4-cylinder units. No straight sixes to be seen here, unfortunately. But it was brilliant at its intended purpose to be a reliable, sensible family hauler.

Lynx Eventer

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterolthof/

The XJS disappointed many when it replaced the E-Type in 1975, but as 45-years have now passed, more and more people have grown to it's sleek, rakish architecture.

But you really have to be a true car geek to know what the Eventer is; because when I saw one for the first time in Cambridge, I was nothing short of stunned.

Just 67 were ever made and the customer could've sent in any XJS specification as a base; from the 3.6 litre XK engine to the silky smooth 5.3 litre V12 with either manual or automatic gearboxes.

My advice though would be if you come across one, take plenty of photographs. I should've done, if I'd known how special it was at the time...

Rover SD1 Estate

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Designed to aim at the thriving market of the estate car dominated by Volvo and Ford, British Leyland thought they'd have a bash at it - in the form of the 3500 SD1. It was fittingly named the 3500E.

Unfortunately however, despite vigorous testing and even the BL Chairman and Cheif Executive, Michael Edwardes, using one as his daily runabout, it never made production. Just two running prototypes were made and one is tucked away at the British Motor Museum in Warwickshire.

Having seen it in the flesh, it's HUGE. But I suppose that's typical because it was designed to effectively be a Volvo killer. With all that load in the back, I'd guess Edwardes would've been glad his had the top-end 3.5 litre V8. At least for the good few years he used it.

Zender Mercedes W126 Estate

Image credit: FavCars.com

If the W123 estate wasn't quite enough for you, German coachbuilder, Zender would very happily oblige to take your W126 S-Class and create something wonderful.

Or at least in theory; because this conversion carried out in 1983 appears to be the only one of its kind. It used a 500 SEL as a base, before borrowing the nose and bonnet from an SEC and the rear hatch was built from scratch.

It was named the 500 SET and was the ultimate in a luxurious, powerful estate car. It couldn't be any more different to a standard W126. This is the most 80s thing that's ever happened to a Merc, I reckon.

Bertone Jet 2+2

Image credit: Wikipedia

If Porsche ever needed competition with the Panamera Sport Turismo, Aston Martin should've asked Bertone if they could buy the rights to this gorgeous design and put a shooting brake Rapide into production.

There was a Bertone Jet Aston Martin before in the form of a re-bodied DB4 GT from 1961. It was Giorgetto Giugiaro's job to take the last of the 75 DB4 GT chassis' and make it special. But anyway, let's not get distracted.

£1 million. That's roughly how much you'd get charged if you ask the Italian designers to convert your Rapide into one of these; and with that lovely 6.0 litre V12 and a body that's as beautiful as Lea Seydoux, you could say it's worth it - even if you can get a used Rapide from around 30 grand now.

Thanks for reading

So, there we are. Those are my picks for the 10 most unknown estate cars. If you have more suggestions, then please don't hesitate to throw them into the comments.

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed reading the article and found it interesting.

Thanks.

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