If you are wondering how these 3 names come about, then read on.
Back in the early era of the automotive industry, the first station wagons people got to see were the wooden-bodied Ford Model Ts and at that time there were known as “depot hacks.” The reason why they were named depot hacks is because they were used to carry passengers and their luggage to and from train depots.
The word “hack” refers to a primitive term which is “hackney.” Hackney is actually a type of horse that is known for trotting at high speeds. The term depot hacks started as a horse and carriage case and the name just continued with the automobile versions. So, the word station in station wagons points out to train stations.
The term “estate” is a little more direct. During olden times, those who can afford to have their own horses and carriages are usually rich and they would need to have an estate to place their big and bulky items.
The term “shooting brake” is used to describe a two door station wagon. In the 19th century, shooting brake was a term that was used to describe a type of vehicle used for carrying hunting parties. The rear part of the vehicle is usually used to store or carry their hunting gear. Therefore, the word shooting actually refers to the hunting activity. The brake (also known as break) part refers to a type of carriage chassis that is specially used to “brake” (or break) stubborn horses.
The name station wagon that we and automakers use trace back to historical times and thanks to several items such as trains, estates, stubborn horses and carriages.
Photo credit: Net Car Show and Wikipedia