|Two rare and distinctive Ford estates|
|Audi 200 Avant Quattro 20V|
And so, with Ford and Audi in the vanguard, they started offering their high performance specs in estate car versions too. The Audi 200 Avant Quattro brought the company's rally technology to a wider market. With over 200 bhp it was the sober-suited and sure-footed. But expensive.
|Ford Sierra Ghia 4x4 estate|
While Audi and Ford nibbled around the edges of the performance estate car market, it took Volvo to make the bold step forŵard and offer the world a fast estate.
|The Volvo 240 GLT. Gulp.|
In the 1980s, in a bid to eke out the life of its elderly 240 range, Volvo created the 240 GLT, an erstwhile sporting estate that in reality had the athletic prowess of a bowl of porridge with a go-faster stripe.
|Volvo T5 Touring Car|
This time, however, things were very different. In 1993 the erstwhile grey man of motoring introduced the Tarmac-burning 850 T5 estate. It was a 240 bhp, be-spoilered hoon-mobile that put fast estates firmly on the map. Porsche had even had a hand in its development.
Few T5s were sold but Volvo milked the car's halo-effect. T5 estates ran in the British Touring Car Championship and bright yellow was a popular colour option.
|Audi RS2 Avant|
The RS2 showed that estate cars could be truly fast. Where the Volvo T5 retained a faint whiff of antique dealers and country pursuits, the Audi had rally pedigree and Porsche construction. Here was proof that you could have your cake and eat it - power, performance, fun. And space for the dogs and kids.
|Audi RS6 Avant|
The RS2 really is the car that gave us the fast estate. From here it was a quick hop, skip and a jump to high performance versions of big estate cars - the Audi RS6, E55 Mercedes and BMW M5 all took power to well over 400 bhp, delivering performance similar to contemporary supercars. Soon enough James Bond - well, nearly - was driving one in Layer Cake.
By the late noughties car makers were really getting carried away with the fast estate theme. Audi's RS6 and BMW's M5 were both churning out nearly 600 bhp and posting sub-4 second 0-60 times. These top models were becoming almost too fast and too powerful.
Today most premium car makers still offer uber-quick estate cars, but the body style is on the wane. The ubiquitous SUV in all its endless incarnations has put paid to the humble load lugger.
Estate cars are now viewed much as they were when we started this journey. Compared to Q5s, Tiguans, Edges and even Qashqais, the humble load lugger is too straight, too functional and, well, too low.
If the estate car can continue to plug quietly away up and down the motorways of Britain, perhaps we'll see it rise from the ashes again. I certainly hope so.
Sadly no estate cars have made it onto the Great Escape Cars fleet. Yet. But you can drive a range of classic coupes, convertibles and saloons from just £95. Or try several on one of our road trips. Find out more at www.greatescapecars.co.uk.