#CarQuiz 61 Estate of mind. How to feel cool in a practical automobile.

Until the age of around 16, a ridiculously large proportion of what happened in my head centered around cars. Only when girls started to compete as an object of my attention and it turned out not all of them were as interested as me in discussing, at length, the design intricacies of the McLaren F1, that it seemed developing something approximating a personality became a necessity to me.

In those days my car future was crystal clear to me. I would spend my days roaming the highways, passes and b-roads of Europe in something with two seats, a blaring loud engine behind my back and the pedal to the proverbial metal. I would, off course, ignore all the practical considerations I’d read about in my car mags and laugh in the face of such mundane thoughts.

Oh, how the reality of automotive life has slapped me in the face with its oily rag. The fun car I have tucked away somewhere spends most of its time, well…, tucked away. I now spend my days and miles behind the wheel of a “lifestyle estate” car with my kids in the back like most everyone else. Still, somehow, my perception has miraculously changed and I still  manage to feel smug about my current situation. How does that work then?

Off course, as you may correctly be arguing, much off that is directly attributable to a highly self-centred personality. Anything I am doing must be cool right? Right…? Some credit must be given though to the car manufacturers targeting the relevant demographic: burdened by offspring and other practical considerations but still in that phase of their life where they will part with a nice slice of hard-earned for something that will make them feel good about themselves.

So where lies the genesis of the nice estate car? Nowadays we seem to take for granted that Audi Avants, Alfa Sportwagons and BMW Tourings have a touch of cool about them. But where did that all start?

Please don’t talk to me about woodies or other wood grain adorned Americana. You may seem cool on the way to the beach with that surfboard on the roof right now, that was

VW hässliches Entlein

certainly not the case when these were originally designed for the dollar spending house fathers in suburbia. The VW type 4 Variant may also seem like a most excellent base for that cool project car you have been pondering. However if you want to know how it was perceived when launched I suggest you look up the German for “ugly duckling” (don’t bother, its “hässliches Entlein”).

It’s going to be very hard to pinpoint the exact starting point for cool estate cars (but please use the comment field below to add your suggestions). A full 20 minutes of desk-top

Why don't we just have our, ehrm, pick-nick in here Romy?

research reveals to me however, that 1959 must have been a pivotal point from a European point of view. It marks the start of production of both the Citroën DS break and the answer to #CarQuiz 61, the Saab 95. Either of these cars must have made quite an impression on a 1950’s young father in a car buying mood. I guess it must have been down to whether you were more prone to some aerospace heritage and picturing yourself “piloting” your Saab, or if you saw yourself as a budding Alain Delon picking up Romy Schneider for a spot of “picknicking” in a field. I’m pretty sure I would have been a sucker for either of them.

"That's right! Ice... man. I am dangerous"