"There’s something familiar about the roads leading to QWest’s HQ. Nestled in a part of Norfolk that is neither flat, city, nor Broadland, these are the roads upon which some incredible cars have been honed to perfection over "
A Tale of Two Electricities
Dutch coachbuilder RemetzCar launches their shooting brake version of Tesla’s Model S
“I love the shape of a shooting brake.” Says Floris de Raadt, the proud owner of a bespoke green RemetzCar, as he winds the car through opulent streets of Kensington, where this car had been launched to a UK audience just moments earlier.
“Ever since I saw a shooting brake conversion on an Aston Martin DB5 when I was very young, I wanted it. I could never afford it, though, and as my salary increased, so did the values of those DB5s!”
This didn’t stop him fulfilling his desire with several other shooting brakes including a rare Lynx Eventer, based on a Jaguar XJS, and led him to where we were sitting right now.
In early 2017 he decided he wanted a shooting brake version of Tesla’s Model S and contacted RemetzCar, famed until then for their work creating a hearse based on the Model S.
With the help of passionate car design studio Niels van Roij Design, RemetzCar came up with a series of solutions, and after narrowing it down over many iterations they found the perfect design solution for de Raadt.
The outcome was a bespoke car based on a 2013 Tesla Model S P85D with not only a bespoke rump, but a bespoke colour too, evoking memories of the environment from de Raadt’s youth, the Swiss forests.
With a king-size portion of chrome added and neat design touches to accentuate the width of this low-slung load-carrier it certainly looked the part as the covers were removed.
The car had been revealed in the crisp sunshine outside the Dutch Embassy, just a stone’s throw from the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace, a place often teeming with standard Teslas and a location reinforcing the Dutch flavour of the project.
The interior is bespoke, and is something Tesla itself has not necessarily spent too much time tailoring to European tastes. In the RemetzCar however, colour-coded piping on seats, rear view mirror and even the glovebox interior complement the light, airy clutter-free environment.
The extra weight of the conversion, RemetzCar predicts, is ‘a few kilos’, and aerodynamically they believe they are at least on a par with the original design, perhaps better, so the passenger-pinning acceleration of the Model S remains absolutely intact.
A rear window wash/wipe is also there, hidden beneath the stylish spoiler, and due to the cover provided by the spoiler, is actually only required when the car sits in traffic, as the rain doesn’t trouble the rear end when the car gets going.
One thing that certainly became apparent during the event was the number of solutions available to would-be shooting-brake designers. Niels van Roij himself talking us through myriad design iterations, all of which looked enticing. This final choice was an especially appealing one, with space not necessarily the prime concern, allowing a satisfying curve along the roofline to blend into the existing rear, maintaining all the sparky bits Tesla would rather you didn’t fiddle about with.
The roof was a key design choice too, with van Roij deciding not to follow the industry trend of simply having a rectangular slab of glass moving fore and aft, creating a chrome-flanked pentagon instead which served to accentuate the windswept look of the car.
This focus on the shooting brake ‘look’ meant the design had a very well-defined brief to satisfy, and has done so very well, and clearly has a very different raison d’etre compared to the QWest we’ve featured a few times before.
The QWest, famously, is designed for the benefit of the owner’s pet dog, Tesla Ted, and has a much more airy and capacious boot space (constructed by Le Mans car engineers in carbon fibre), than the RemetzCar (constructed by craftsmen in aluminium with chrome highlights), although different design solutions are of course needed when your priority is 40kg of labradoodle.
By way of comparison, I’d managed to blag a lift to the RemetzCar launch in the QWest, fully refreshing my memory of that car, a star in the Tesla community already. Indeed as we stopped at a charging station en route, other Tesla owners were fascinated, with almost all of them already being aware of the car and of Ted himself.
Tales from Model S owners who said they had needed to keep hold of an estate car for their dog revealed they owned everything from a Volvo 240 to a new Audi A6 Avant, showing quite clearly that the space in a standard Model S is not necessarily its strongest point.
This shows a real appetite and desire for a shooting brake conversion. Even though they aren’t cheap, nobody I spoke too seemed remotely put off by the idea of shelling out the same cost at the vehicle’s purchase price to get it converted by either RemetzCar or QWest. If Tesla doesn’t do it, this is their only solution.
Which coachbuilder you’d choose is completely dependant on needs and desires. If your priority is a light and airy space for a dog, or even adults in the rear-facing back row of seats, you’d need a QWest-type solution. If your need for extra space or light in the back is not so strong, the more jewel-like design of the RemetzCar will probably appeal more.
In my experience posting on social media, there appears to be more desire for the RemetzCar solution, but of course this is not from potential buyers of such vehicles, and it’s very satisfying to know the first two shooting brake conversions of the Model S offer quite different yet complementary solutions.
Both firms appear to realise that by working in a mutually beneficial way, they can appeal to a wide range of slightly-compromised Model S owners who wished they had a bit more space in their car, that’s the impression I had from chatting to both companies. A mutual respect and admiration for the routes they’ve gone down, without needing to be bitter or competitive. A refreshing outlook, in what is often a dog-eat-dog world.
A bit of light-hearted banter doesn’t hurt though, and with both companies looking to grab a few more orders in order to make a production run viable, their presence on the roads will certainly get people to think about having their own, bespoke, conversion.
The appeal of Tesla cars is obvious, travelling around city centres in almost complete silence, costing virtually nothing, spewing out no exhaust gases and having the in-car tech to rival any big German saloon makes all other cars out there look old fashioned. The only thing lacking is variety.
We’ve seen customization on superminis being commonplace from MINI, Vauxhall, Fiat, DS et al, but for those with deeper pockets, a return to the heyday of shooting brakes may be just as welcome.
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