All 12 Different Types of Car Doors Explained (Including Photos)

All 12 Different Types of Car Doors Explained (Including Photos)

One of the most notable design elements of a car are its doors. Not only do doors take up a large part of your cars bodywork, but you’re also opening and closing them constantly. As car designs have evolved, so to have the way their doors open. However, not all 12 different types of car doors were created with efficiency in mind, but rather to draw attention to the exotic machines they are a part of. After all, standard doors don’t make your exotic car stand out as much as scissor doors do.

In this article we’ll talk about the 12 different types of car door designs alongside photos of the most well-known cars that incorporate them.

1. Scissor Doors

Scissor doors on a Lamborghini Countach

Scissor doors open vertically at a fixed hinge at the front of the door.

When you think about exotics, the first thing that should pop into your head are scissor doors. Since their initial release in 1968, they’ve become popularized in modern car and pop culture as they’re often associated with the best exotic cars.

For many car enthusiasts, scissor doors are a very simple modification you can make on any car with many aftermarket companies offering this conversion. They are also often referred to as “Lambo” doors since they have become synonymous with the design of many iconic cars from Lamborghini, which includes the following models: Diablo, Murcielago, Aventador and Countach.

Alfa Romeo was the first car manufacturer to feature scissor doors with their Alfa Romeo Carabo concept car debuted in 1968.

2. Butterfly Doors

Butterfly doors on a Ferrari Enzo

Butterfly doors open upwards via hinges along the A-pillar of a car, in a direction that isn’t straight up but rather up and out.

Butterfly doors are often confused with scissor doors since their style of opening and appearance once fully opened look similar. Some of the main benefits of butterfly doors, when compared to scissor doors, are that they allow for a wider opening, making it easier to get in and out of. The downside, however, includes needing more room or parking space to open, making cramped parking garages the worst enemy of butterfly doors.

Some of the most notable cars that have brought popularity to the butterfly doors include the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (arguably some of the best modern cars ever made).

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Like scissor doors, Alfa Romeo also debuted the first use of the butterfly door in the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale in 1967.

3. Dihedral Synchro-Helix

Dihedral Synchro-Helix doors on a Koenigsegg Jesko

Dihedral synchro-helix is a type of scissor door that moves outward while rotating upwards at 90 degrees.

This type of door was designed and released by those over at Koenigsegg, the high-performance sports car manufacturer. The dihedral-syncro helix is found on all Koenigsegg models since its debute on the Koenigsegg CC prototype in 1994. They've been most recently found on the Koenigsegg Gemera (a vehicle with a sales price of $1.7M USD!).

4. Canopy Doors

Canopy doors on a Sterling Nova 

Canopy doors, otherwise known as an articulated canopy, is a rare type of car door opening where the roof, windshield, and sides of the car are one unit that moves upwards and forwards to provide access to the interior.

Although extremely cool looking (and will surely draw attention at car shows), canopy doors are also extremely impractical for everyday use, limiting them to only being applied on a few one-off production vehicles and concepts. I mean let’s face it—Could you imagine what it would be like to have to open and close an entire canopy every time you want to drive your car?

The cars most notable for having canopy doors include the Sterling Nova, Lincoln Futura, and the Yamaha OX99-11.

Unlike other cars with canopy doors, the Lincoln Futura had a reverse canopy, with the opening occurring from the rear instead of the front.

5. Gull-wing Doors

Gull-wing doors on a Mercedes-Benz 300SL (left) and SLS AMG (right)

Gull-wing doors are hinged to the roof of a car at the top of the door, and open upwards on a horizontal axis.

Like the falcon-wing doors, they provide better entrance and exit room than a standard door. The main downside to both, however, is that in the event of a rollover, opening these doors would be nearly impossible.

Gull-wing doors were popularized by the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, Bricklin SV-1 and the movie classic DMC DeLorean.

Some light aircraft, like the Cessna 350, utilize the gull-wing door design.

6. Falcon-wing Doors

Falcon-wing doors on a Tesla Model X

Like gull-wing doors, the falcon-wing door is hinged to the roof of a car at the top of the door, and open upwards on a horizontal axis.

However, unlike the gull-wing design, the falcon-wing uses two hinges, which allow it to initially open upwards tucked close to the sides and then spread like a gull-wing. The double-hinged configuration enables the falcon-wing door to open in much tighter spaces than it's single-hinged counterpart (with gaps as small as 8 inches!).

The Tesla Model X is most known for this type of door.

7. Sliding Doors

Sliding doors on a Toyota Sienna

Sliding doors are mounted to or suspended from a track and opens alongside the vehicle sidewall.

These doors are extremely popular on moving vans and minivans due to their ability to open without needing vertical or horizontal clearance. They allow for a large opening for kids to shuffle in and out of and also load objects easier without the worry of hitting anything (as you would when opening a standard door).

Because it’s not a particularly exotic style of door, you can find these on many vehicles including the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Ford Transit vans.

8. Pocket Doors

Pocket door on a UPS delivery truck

Pocket doors are a variation of sliding doors that are mounted to a track; however, they open into the vehicle sidewall instead of alongside it.

These types of doors are rarely found in everyday cars, but they are fairly common in passenger vehicles like trains and large buses. You’ll most likely see this type of door the next time you get a package from UPS.

9. Coach Doors

Coach doors on a Lincoln Continental

Coach doors (or suicide doors) are doors that are hinged on the rear end of a cars door-frame, and open horizontally towards the rear.

The coach door gets is name due to the risks of passengers falling out of a vehicle if the door were to be opened while moving. Unlike a standard door, if a coach door were to be opened at high speeds, it would fling open and be nearly impossible to close by a passenger due to the wind resistance. Many manufacturers, including Lincoln, prefer to call it a coach door due to this negative connotation.

Although the coach door was mostly used in the 1950’s with the likes of the Lincoln Continental, these types of doors have made a resurgence in modern day vehicles, albeit with some slight changes. Some safety measures were made to the suicide doors resulting in what's called the modern-day clam-shell door. They operate like a coach door; however, the rear hinged door cannot be opened without the front door being opened. You can find these clam-shell doors on modern day cars such as the Mazda RX-8 and BMW i8.

10. Swan Doors

Swan doors on an Aston Martin DB9

Swan doors open outward like a conventional door or a suicide door, but on a slightly tilted upwards angle to allow for better ground clearance.

These doors are most commonly found on low-to-ground exotic cars since the swan door opening helps to clear curbs and other obstructions near the lower sill of the car. Swan doors are considered different than a scissor or butterfly door since they are hinged on the lower part of the A-pillar and do not open at a drastic vertical angle.

Aston Martin and it’s sister company, Lagonda, are two of the manufacturers that popularized the use of the swan door. You can find them on many of their models beginning with the Aston Martin DB9 back in 2004. Other notable cars that use this door design include the Hennessey Venom GT and the Jaguar CX-75 concept.

11. Front Hinge Doors

A front hinge door on a BMW Isetta

A front hinge door is a type of door design in which the entire front of the car is on a hinge allowing for the passenger or driver to enter through the front.

Although many would consider this to be a variation of a canopy door, the front hinge door does not require the entire top and sides of the vehicle to open. It was most notably used in the BMW Isetta 300 and Isetta 600 (and has since been largely removed from use in modern day vehicles).

The BMW Isetta was the first mass-produced car to record and average a fuel consumption of 78mpg.

12. Standard or Conventional Door

Conventional doors on a Fisker Karma

A conventional door, also known as a standard door is hinged at the front-facing edge of the door, which allows it to open and swing outwards from the body of the car towards the front.

Unlike other types of doors, these doors are relatively safe, which makes them the most common used door design in cars today. Unlike a coach door, in the event of an opening during forward acceleration, the wind resistance will work against the opening of a standard door, and keep it shut. Also, in the event of a rollover, standard doors are much safer as they can allow for opening as long as there are no side obstructions (the same cannot be said for the likes of the butterfly or scissor door).

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