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Station Wagons Wish List -AACA Museum

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May 23 - October 12, 2015

Who is up for a summer Roadtrip! Remember the Wagon Queen Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation? How about Carol Brady’s Plymouth Satellite wagon from The Brady Bunch? Do you have fond memories as a kid of riding in the back of the Vista Cruiser with a picnic cooler on the way to a family outing? If you do, you’re not alone. We at the AACA Museum do, and are celebrating those days before minivans, SUVs and soccer moms, before GPS units replaced paper road maps and in-car entertainment systems replaced ‘spot the license plate’ games and such.

Call them station wagons, suburbans, depot hacks, or shooting-breaks, the origin of these utility vehicles became prevalent in the teens and twenties, but became very popular in the Post War periods of the 1950s and 60s. As America developed into a two-car family, the station wagon became the workhorse, taking the kids to school and summer camp, hauling the dog to the vets and transporting groceries.

Debuting in May 2015, “A Family Affair” will showcase both familiar and lesser known examples of station wagons and the impact they had on family life.

The AACA Museum has compiled a ‘wish list’ of the following cars, and is eager to hear from individuals with such examples willing to loan their vehicles for display:

• Volvo P1800ES/ PV544 or other

• Citroen DS/Ami

• Chevrolet Vega

• Ford Pinto

• AMC Pacer/Hornet/etc.

• Ford County Squire

• Chrysler Town & Country

• 1984 Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager

• Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

• Chevrolet Corvair

• Mercedes 300TD

• Rolls-Royce/Bentley/Aston Martin Shooting Break

• Fiat 128/131 etc.

• Edsel

• National Lampoon Family Vacation’s “Family Truckster”

• Checker

• Variety of Woodies

• Volkswagen Squareback etc.

• Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant

• Custom Mustang/Corvette/Firebird/? conversion

• Nash Rambler

• Studebaker Wagonaire

• SAAB 95

Check out our website for a list of confirmed vehicles for our Station Wagon exhibit: AACAMuseum.org/family-affair-station-wagons/

Edited by West Peterson
The "corrected" spelling of break has been re-correted to break. (see edit history)
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NOOOOOO. It's NOT brake. The term has nothing to do with stopping the car!!!!!!!!!!!


Sorry to be opposite thinking, but if you Google it or look in an old car book, it's "Shooting brake".

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In this usage, the homonym "brake" has no reference to the brakes that retard motion. Neither does it refer to a device used to bend sheet metal.

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Because we considered "brake" a broadly accepted but incorrect use of the term of shooting break, we re-printed this historical correction in the September/October 2006 issue of Antique Automobile. It was written by George L. Hamlin and was originally printed in the Packard Club's "The Packard Cormorant."

For many years there has been confusion about the term “shooting break” – mostly over whether the body style should be spelled “break” or “brake.” This sort of confusion is common in English, where there are scores of homonyms – two, three, and sometimes four different words pronounced the same but spelled differently.

Having all these homonyms leads to situations where users become confused about which of two terms is correct, when they are ignorant of the cultural link. That’s how toe-the-line, shoo-in, strait-laced, hare-brained, and rite-of-passage are being twisted into incorrect variants these days.

But what about shooting break vs. shooting brake? This particular homonym has been bouncing around the automobile world for a long time, and lately most users have tended to adopt the spelling brake – including many, if not all, of the British marque club publications, unfortunately. Why? We’re not sure, except that brake is a common automotive word. However, it turns out that the term break, referring to a vehicle, predates automobiles by a good long time.

Taking the position that there’s only one right way to spell something [not that we don’t make a few mistakes along the way. – Ed.], we decided that the spelling merited research if we were going to put it in large type. All research of this sort begins with a dictionary – not a new dictionary, which has everything that the editors pick up in use on the street, but an old one, whose editors saw their mission as citing correct usage. We checked Merriam’s New World from 1953, and here’s what it has to say:

brake, n. a break (carriage).

That sounds the alarm that break is the correct spelling and brake is the variant. So we look at the other spelling.

break, n. a large, four-wheeled carriage for six or more passengers: also spelled brake.

The dictionary suggests the derivation:

[prob. break (to break a horse)]

Now that’s interesting. But we need more confirmation, preferably from a horse source, of course. One of the best is Don Berkebile, retired associate curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s Division of Transportation. And, as it turns out, Berkebile has indeed researched the topic, and the information wasn’t even particularly hard to find. All we had to do was get a copy of his American Carriages, Sleighs, Sulkies, and Carts, written in 1977. In it, he has vehicles identified as “breaks,” including one that is little more than four wheels on a frame with an elevated seat. This he identifies as “a break in its original and true sense. It was used for breaking and exercising horses, eliminating the danger of damage to a fine carriage.”

“It’s a skeleton vehicle,” he said when contacted. “Very heavy; like a coach except no body, just a driver’s seat. They used it to break horses for the finer coaches, like a road coach, so you had this heavy running gear. But no expensive coachwork, because these horses were unpredictable – sometimes they would kick the hell out of the vehicle.” But the style evolved, as body styles are wont to do. “My guess,” allows Berkebile, “is that they just added a body to this heavy running gear and the name stuck.” Later breaks were used “for hunting parties and picnics,” some of them also capable of carrying dogs, food, and ammunition under the seats, thus “shooting break.” As they got heavier and more ornate, breaks carried up to nine passengers and had special louvered ventilated compartments for the dogs.

Enter the automobile, and the break found itself motorized. This was not uncommon; many of what we think of today as automobile body names came originally from the horse set, including victoria, coupe, phaeton, wagon, landaulet – even bus (omnibus) and cab. Sometimes the transition was more than just nomenclature, because many early horse-drawn bodies were remounted on automobile chassis. Anyway, the break became a shooting break, taken out to go shooting, and eventually passed from the scene. And those who heard it more often than they saw it spelled, began to use an alternate spelling. Whole books have been written on how words change.

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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Not the way I understand it. I realize that language is a living breathing thing and that changes are made, but in this case, I believe break is correct, and brake is incorrect.

My $0.02 worth -

having enjoyed a pair of '71 Citroen D-21 Break (Safari) models...., as well as an Ami-6 Break,

I have to side with West on this one.

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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Broken,,,Busted,,,,An' that microscopic font just is repulsive

It is a nice Silver Ghost tho,,,Cheers,,Ben in frozen Southern Maine

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Interesting discussion. I had often seen the reference to shooting brakes, usually English vehicles and it immediately brought to mind the following definition: brake n.[prob. from M.L.G. brake, stumps, broken branches] a clump or area of brushwood, briars etc.; a thicket. (WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY UNABRIDGED 1971). It made me think of the vehicle as some kind of hunting blind from which genteel hunters could pop away at birds or game. So the insistence on break as the correct spelling came to me as a bit of a jolt. HOWEVER, following through the above explanations. I see where break is more properly the correct spelling and Webster agrees. I learned something today. My grandmother would be proud. :)

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Can someone post a pic of a 4wheel wagon brake/break,,,horsedrawn

and then a ROOF TOP BRAKE [sp] horse drawn

Both are earlier and the origin of our cars

There is a roof top brake on the inner cover of a Panhard-Levassor

catalogue ca 1906,,car speeding through Paris // Magnicificant [sp]


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