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10 Different Types of Car Doors Explained (With Photos)

A Man in a Suit Opening a Car’s Door

Cars are a common means of transportation that almost every person travels in or owns in today’s modern world. They come in various models, sporting different colors, designs, sizes, etc. Needless to say, cars have become a necessity to cover both short and long distances at a faster pace. They have allowed people to cover vast distances in a short amount of time, and with very little human or animal effort.

This goes to show that cars are a fast, efficient, and super reliable means to reach far-away-from-home destinations. Research shows that whether it is dropping off the kids at school, driving to work, going to the park for some quality time with the family, or just randomly driving around, one is behind the wheel of a car for a minimum of 6 to 7 hours a week.

It is interesting to note that before cars were invented, people used to travel by sleds. If they had to move things around or had to float them down rivers, they would prop their items on a sled and drag the sled around. All of this began to change when people started to realize that they could perform these tasks with the help of animals. By 5000 BCE, the Native Americans invented the travois – a type of sled that consisted of two poles pulled by a dog or a horse.

The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians realized the significance of wheels and around 3500 BCE. Wheels were added to sleds, transforming them into carts. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that gasoline-engine cars came about – they were speedy, reliable, and mind-bogglingly expensive! In 1893, simple Viktoria cars were sold at an exorbitant price of 9000 Euros (about 50,000 Euros today).

Only the upper-class could afford it, and 45 of them bought the luxurious car, while the middle-class customers remained stuck with the use of carts and horses. That’s when Henry Ford made his entry into the automobile market. He invented the simplest form of engine-based “horseless carriages” and sold them in large quantities everywhere.

All those companies involved in manufacturing motor vehicles and components will agree that the automotive industry is booming now more than ever before. One of the reasons is the innovation in the automotive industry that attracts customers to invest in modern vehicles and their components.

Apart from engines and horsepower, the appearance of a car matters as well, which is why automobile companies have come up with different types of car doors. The doors of a car can easily be the center of attention, especially if they are eccentric. There are many car door designs, and in this article, we’ve described all of them in detail.

1. Scissor Doors

A Car with Scissor Doors in Birmingham, England

The most striking car door design in regards to a car’s appearance and entrance is the scissor door. Exclusive brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren boast cars with these doors.

Scissor doors go by many names – wing doors, beetle-wing doors, switchblade doors, turtle doors, swing-up doors, Lambo doors, and Lamborghini doors. These are the type of vehicle doors that swing up vertically rather than opening up in an outward position like conventional car doors. The front of the door is fixed on a frontal hinge, which makes the car’s door open like the blades of a pair of scissors, hence the name “scissor doors.”

The first scissor door was invented in 1968 by a popular car brand – Alfa Romeo Carabo. These doors aren’t just aesthetically pleasing but are supremely practical, too. Scissor doors are highly valued in countries where parking spaces are limited, and if you’ve ever had to park in a tight space, you’ll know just how difficult it is to open your door in order to get out. That being said, these doors can be a hindrance if the height of a parking garage’s ceiling is low. In such a scenario, it could be difficult for passengers to hop out of the car.

2. Gull-Wing Doors

A Car with Gull-Wing Doors

Also known as an up-door or a falcon-wing door, a gull-wing door refers to a car door that is hinged at the roof rather than the side of a car. The doors open upward, suggesting the image of a seagull’s wings. During the opening of doors, the hinges of these doors stay fixed on top of the roof, and the two doors spread like wings.

In French, these doors are known as “portes papillon” – butterfly doors, and were first designed in 1939 by Jean Bugatti – a well-acclaimed automotive designer. Fourteen years later, in 1952, Mercedes Benz launched its 300SL race car (W194) – a car that sported the gull-wing door design.

In addition to the world-class Mercedes-Benz 300SL, the Mercedes-Benz C111 of the 1970s is a great example of a car with gull-wing doors. Other noteworthy examples include the 1970s Bricklin SV-1, the 1980s DMC DeLorean, and the Tesla Model X of the 2010s.

The beauty of the gull-wing door design is that it is not only restricted to road cars. It has also been employed in the construction of aircraft such as the four-seater Socata TB series of France.

3. Butterfly Doors

A Stylish Car with Butterfly Doors

Often confused with scissor doors, butterfly doors are slightly different when it comes to the way that they open. Scissor doors are opened straight up via hinge points at the bottom of the A-pillar. However, butterfly doors swing up and out by hinges fixed along the A-pillar. Owing to their practical opening mechanism, the user has more space for entering and exiting the car than allowed by scissor doors.

It is important to note that these vertical doors open wider than scissor doors, making it a super convenient car door option. However, one of the downsides of butterfly doors is that they need more parking space than scissor doors. Since they open wide, they can’t function well in cramped spaces and low ceilings. If you are more into style than practicality, butterfly doors will suit you to the tee. Models like the Mercedes Benz SLR, the BMW i8, the Ferrari Enzo, the Ferrari LaFerrari, the BMW Z1, and the McLaren F1 are good options if you want to own a car with impeccable butterfly doors.

4. Suicide Doors

Car with suicide doors.

Also known as coach doors, suicide doors are a slang terminology for a vehicle door hinged at its rear as opposed to the front (which is the traditional way). These types of doors were initially used on horse-drawn carriages but are rarely found on modern vehicles; that’s because they are considered less safe than a front-hinged door.

Suicide doors date back to the first half of the 20th century when horse-drawn carriages were the preferred automobile choice of masses. These doors landed the name “suicide” due to their flawed design that could injure or kill an occupant. Anyone entering or exiting the offside of the car door could get injured if hit by another vehicle on the road. At that time, seat belts weren’t invented, so it further increased the chances of occupants falling out when opening the door.

Suicide doors were exceedingly popular among gangsters in the 1930s. According to Dave Brownell – the former editor of Hemmings Motor News – the reason why suicide doors were popular among mobsters was that they provided a lot of ease when it came to pushing people into and out of a moving vehicle.

After World War II, the use of cars with suicide doors steadily declined. Post World War II, American automobiles that remarkably used suicide doors were the Lincoln Continental 4 door convertibles and sedans (1961-1969) and the Ford Thunderbird (1967-1971). The British Rover P4 was also popularized for its astonishing use of suicide doors in the 1960s.

Although coach doors are no longer in use, Rolls-Royce is one of the very few automobile companies that employ rear-hinged doors. Some of the premium manufacturers of suicide doors also include Mazda, Opel/Vauxhall, and Saturn. However, these brands focus on improving the occupant’s safety and their ride experience. These doors are designed to provide benefits to the rear occupants. They get better access to the front seat, which is beneficial when it comes to fitting small kids into a seat.

5. Sliding Doors

Car with sliding doors.

A sliding door is a type of car door that is suspended from a track for the door to slide horizontally. This is the kind of feature that vans, minivans, and buses sport these days, allowing a large entrance and exit space for passengers. Since these doors provide unobstructed access, it is easier to load and unload large objects.

The first car that featured sliding doors was the 1954 Kaiser Darrin. This was an improved version of a similar car built by British Insurance Officer Sidney Nobbs in 1949, which didn’t turn out to be very successful. Its sliding door consumed excessive space that could be utilized more productively otherwise.

Today, it is hard to come across a car with sliding doors. This car design has moved to mini MPVs such as the Peugeot 1007, the Toyota Porte, and Renault Kangoo; and full-sized MPVs like the Citroen C8, the Peugeot 807, the Toyota Previa, and the Kia Sedona.  The most popular car with a sliding door was the one introduced by Volkswagen AG in 1964. It had a three-point suspension and used to open outward.

Sliding doors come in plenty of styles; the most popular one is described as follows:

6. Pocket Doors

A large cargo van with pocket doors.

A pocket door is a type of sliding door that slides along like any other van with sliding doors. However, when opened, the door changes into a compartment in the adjacent wall. This type of door is used in delivery vans and train carriages but rarely in normal cars. Some of the most popular vans with pocket doors are the Renault Estafette and the Morris J4.

7. Swan Doors

A Motor Car with Stunning Swan Doors

Swan is a car door style that can turn everyone’s head with its spectacular opening mechanism. Although it is similar to conventional car doors, it opens more widely than any other door type. The selling feature of this door type is its unparalleled style. As the name implies, this door type boasts the elegance of a swan.

Apart from the mind-blowing design, swan doors are practical as well.  They save parking space regardless of the height of the ceiling. Since these car doors open horizontally, they aren’t concerned with how low the ceiling is. Plus, the doors can also be easily opened even if there is another car next to them.

If you want to get a car with swan doors, you can find the Rapide, the GTA Spano, the Aston Martin DB9, and the Jaguar C-X 75 in the market. These are some cars that are worth the second glance, and their swan doors make them worthier than the rest!

8. Canopy Doors

A Modern Car with Canopy Doors.

This is one of the rarest door types. It has no official name, so it is popularly known as the bubble canopy, cockpit canopy, articulated canopy, or simply – canopy. When opened, this car door can take the shape of a canopy, which immediately makes it the center of attraction at any car show or gathering. The door is opened in such a way that it is mounted on top of a car and remains that way until it is closed.

This is the type of car door that comes in handy when you have to park your car inches away from another one. Since the door goes over the top of the car, it is easy for passengers to hop out without having to worry about the sides. Canopy doors have subtypes as well, which means that they can be hinged at the front, back, or side as well. However, the front hinge is the variant that you will most commonly see.

Canopy doors can pose a problem if the car has to be parked in an area with a tight ceiling space. In such scenarios, it can be almost impossible to open the door without getting dent marks on it. Again, this is a type of door which is found on luxurious cars only. Whether you want it or not entirely depends on your personal preference. Keep in mind that in bad weather conditions like heavy snowfall and rain, it can be impossible to get in and out of the car without busting the interior.

9. Dihedral Doors

Dihedral Doors at the International Motor Show

Dihedral doors are similar to scissor doors; the only difference is that these doors open by moving outward while rotating at 90 degrees at the door hinge.

Dihedral doors are the latest invention in the car industry, and some popular car models that feature this door type are the Agera R, the Agera RS, the Koenigsegg Agera, the Koenigsegg CC8S, CCR, and Regera.

10. Front-Hinged Car Doors

A red-colored front-hinged car.

This is a type of car that comes with only one door. The entrance and exit are done via the front door. Thus, it eliminates the risk of being injured or killed as a result of exiting from a side door. In case of an accident, passengers can escape through the sunroof.

Not many automobiles sport this car door type (as the engine is usually at the front of the car). The only car model that sported this door type was the BMW Isetta 600 from 1955 to 1962.

Cars with these doors make it easier to park in packed spaces. However, you can’t park a car in front of a wall as it may cause difficulty in opening the door.

These are the top nine car doors that bestow style and practicality to luxury cars. There is no doubt that unique car doors give an unconventional look to a vehicle. If you are buying a luxury car, you might as well invest in one that flaunts quirky and flamboyant doors. Car door designs can add an eccentric touch to your car that will grab everyone’s attention so it’s worth noting the different types of car doors automobile companies have come up with over the years.

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