By Mike Atwal
7th November 2019

The timeless appeal of estate cars



Whether it’s the family holiday where the kitchen sink tags along, collecting flat packed furniture, to transporting big dogs in comfort, there is no denying one thing… Estate cars are cool.

The history of the estate, or station wagon, dates all the way back to early 1900’s. Back then they weren’t necessarily considered cool, but were created for the practicality. In the 90’s though, with the British Touring Car Championships, the estate began to build a following not only related to their practicality but their performance too.

A worthy contender for timeless appeal is the mighty Audi RS6 C5 Avant from circa 2003. I fell in love with this car after seeing one in the film Layer Cake. It looks purposeful with its aggressive body and the responsive to tuning 4.2 V8 twin turbo in a four wheel drive chassis produce a very capable rocket as standard. The aforementioned tickling such as a remap and trick exhaust spawn a giant killer. A rather epic engine in hindsight now in the current electric low emission era, it is perhaps already from a time gone by.

Being a hot Audi, the spec is huge, the interior a wonderful place to be especially with Recaro seats and the low stance with menacing alloys will always look good.

Moving on from the burbling V8 twin turbo dream, how about a 4 cylinder turbo diesel. Another famous engine configuration from yesteryear. Enter the Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Sportwagon and Crosswagon Q4’s that hit the streets in 2004. Rare beasts complete with torquey, highly tun-able and economical 1.9 turbo diesel hearts, four wheel drive systems, and on the Crosswagon, higher suspension, complete with rugged bumper guard plates front and rear. Both were only ever available in left hand drive and solely with this power plant. With diesel becoming a taboo all over the world one could argue these wagon Q4’s are in the crosshairs for extinction.

There’s a host of hot tuneable estates out there, like the Volvo 850R to say the least.

What would be your choice?


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Harry
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Harry

Well, I have the 156 Facelift Sedan 1.9 JTDM Engine and the Crosswagon Q4, they are beasts for our roads here and great job Mike keep up the good work !

Michael
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Michael

Thank you Harry!

Your Crosswagon was the first one I ever saw and gave me inspiration to think of rare estate cars…and the highly tuned saloon you have is awesome – I can’t wait to have a passenger ride in!

Balkan roads are indeed perfect…a topic close to my heart that soon I must share my thoughts on 🙂

Harry
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Harry

Of course, I can even give you to try it out so you can get a better feel of the car as well. 🙂

Michael
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Michael

I would love that Harry, thank you! You know how much of a fan I am of the 1.9 tdi powerplant…I still miss my Saab 9-3!

Graham
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Graham

I have a 1960 Borgward Isabella Combi

Michael
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Michael

Graham, that’s a beautiful car! I had to look it up, always exciting to hear of a car ones not heard of.

A two door estate bodyshell, very special indeed. How long have you had it for? Do you use it much?

Graham
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Graham

i have had 18 months genuine 60000 miles i am the third owner did belong to our partsman who passed away yes i use it as much as possible went to Germany in August and planning to go to Austria next year it is currently on show at the NEC 😀

Michael
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Michael

It’s great that such a car is being used as it was designed to do, I really do believe cars stay healthier that way.

Sorry to hear about the loss of your partsman, I’m sure he would be pleased to know his pride and joy is living on in good hands.

Cars that become dear to us become like a pet, for me anyway. We always want to know they’ll be taken care of well should we one day not be able to.

Enjoy the rest of the NEC show!

Graham
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Graham

Thanks Michael