Why do they call them station wagons?

Over here we say "Why do we call those half-timbered cars ‘shooting brakes’?
Enlightenment Cecil please.

Here’s a link the column - http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/763/why-do-they-call-it-a-station-wagon

And Shooting Brake was originally used to take hunting parties - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting-brake

To explain it a bit more, “break” used to mean (among other things) a dummy carriage used to break in young horses. A “shooting-break” was a similarly skeletal carriage used off-road to go shooting (which would be called “hunting” in the US), and somehow the spelling of “shooting-break” mutated into “shooting-brake”; it may be related to the fact that another word for a horse-training break was “drag”.

(This sort of thing is why etymologists make da big bucks!)

Thanks for that JWK. I could of course have looked up the answer on Wiki, but that only supplies knowledge. For wisdom you go to the SD. The only thing missing from your answer is Uncle Cecil’s usual bucketful of facetiousness.

As you point out Cecil, they were “station” wagons because they were used to transport people & possessions to and from (train) stations. When automobiles and trucks replaced horse-drawn wagons the name stayed. Prior to WWII, they were essentially only commercial vehicles: livery/bus/taxi companies had them but private families didn’t. One of the popular movie stars of the time bought one, it was considered sort of a scandal, that a famous rich person would drive a “tradesman’s vehicle.” After WWII, with the emergence of suburbs coupled with - and mostly fueled by - a vast increase in private families having their own cars, and producing us “baby boomers” the station wagon became a popular vehicle for families with multiple children. Seat belts, let alone individual baby car seats, being unknown outside of a race track, the kids would romp around, play games, etc., in the cargo compartment of the station wagon.

I believe in England they were known as estate cars, because they were useful for hauling stuff around an estate. So sort of the opposite social connotation.

Actually, they still are called estate cars.

Yank here-We had a “woodie” when I was a kid. Nonwoodies look weird to me somehow.

Over here an estate is simply a standard large saloon modified by having extra length behind the back seat. There is no separate boot as such, but usually some sort of grill to stop the Labrador jumping over and landing on the occupants of the back seat.
Shooting brakes are always timbered. As Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) once said, “only in England can you drive past half-timbered houses in a half-timbered car”.

Except when they’re not. Ferrari shooting brake revealed

I’m in the US, so I have no idea of what the actual protocol is. Whenever I’ve seen the term “shooting brake” for a post-1960 automobile, it’s been applied to an expensive car. Aston Martins have shooting brakes, Vauxhalls have estates.