The term originated with custom built 2-door luxury estate cars altered for use by hunters and other sportsmen such as golfers and riders requiring easy access to larger storage areas than offered by the typical automobile boot.
In the early 19th century, a brake was a large carriage-frame with no body, used for breaking in young horses. By the late 19th century the meaning had been extended to a large waggonette designed for country use. A "shooting brake" carried a driver and gamekeeper facing forward and up to six sportsmen on longitudinal benches with their dogs, guns and game carried alongside in slat-sided racks.
VG, a small US coach builder, offers a model named VGD Shooting Brake.
Some modern manufacturers, such as Audi, have recently referred to some concept cars as shooting brakes. In French-speaking countries estate-bodied cars (including those with four doors) are often referred to as "break" models (note the different spelling), short for "break de chasse", or "hunting break".