10 Types of Car Doors And How They Look Like

Many people don’t realize how many styles of car doors can come in and why they were designed as such. Car doors range from the traditional to the exotic, opening outward or backward. Some are attached by hinges, others by a track. We’ve created a top 12 list of these varying types of doors that can be found on cars, as well as why they were designed.

While most car owners will opt for the standard and conventional doors we know so well, some of you may want to try one of these glamorous car door types. You will definitely stand out from the crowd!

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the top 12 variations of car doors that can be found on the market.

Types of Car Doors

  • Regular Doors (Doors that open outwards)
  • Scissor Doors or “Lambo Doors” (Doors that open upwards)
  • Gull wing doors (Doors that open outwards and upwards)
  • Butterfly doors (Doors that open outwards and upwards)
  • Suicide Doors” (Doors that open outward and backward)
  • Dihedral Door
  • Swan Door
  • Raptor Door
  • Sliding Door
  • Canopy Door
  • Front Hinged Door

1. Regular Doors (Doors that open outwards)

These are the door you see on most cars. They are hinged at the front-facing edge of the car door, allowing room for the door to swing open from the body of the car outwards.

Compared to other car door types these are considered to be generally safe because it’s unlikely they will unlatch when driving. Should the door be opened during any forward motion at speed, the wind resistance will work to keep the door closed.

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2. Scissor Doors or “Lambo Doors” (Doors that open upwards)

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.

Scissor Door Advantages

  • Gives the potential to operate the car with the door open, something a traditional car door cannot do.
  • Can be useful when parking in tight spaces, given that the doors stay within the track of the car through their entire movement range.
  • With the hinges being situated in a similar area to a conventional car door, similar car models have the adaptability to be converted to Scissor doors.
  • Reduces the hazard of doors hitting cyclists when opened.

Scissor Door Disadvantages

  • The door still hampers access, in some cases more than a conventional door.
  • The cost to manufacture the door hinge can be more than one for a conventional door.
  • The door can come into contact with the ceiling of a parking garage if the height of the ceiling is not sufficient.
  • Should a car rollover in an accident, it can be harder to get out of the car in an emergency, in some cases impossible.

3. Gull wing doors (Doors that open outwards and upwards)

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.

Gullwing Door Advantages

  • Are great for use in limited tight parking spaces that are often found in urban areas.
  • They require very little side clearance, which allows for better ability to enter and exit the car.
  • They allow for increased visibility over the driver’s shoulder.

Gullwing Door Disadvantage

  • In the event of a rollover, should the car land on its roof, exiting the car via the doors is impossible. However, this problem was solved by the Mercedes SLS, by fitting the hinges with explosive bolts that would blow up in the event of a rollover.
  • The door design makes converting a car to a convertible quite hard.

4. Butterfly doors (Doors that open outwards and upwards)

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 them 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.

Butterfly Door Advantages

  • Due to being on automatic door gliders, they can open and close on their own.
  • Convenient for parking it tight spaces

Butterfly Door Disadvantages

  • The door can come into contact with the ceiling of a parking garage if the height of the ceiling is not sufficient.
  • Should a car rollover in an accident, it can be harder to get out of the car in an emergency, in some cases impossible.

6. Suicide Doors (Doors that open outward and backward)

Also known as coach doors, suicide doors are 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.

Suicide Door Advantages

  • Easier exit and entry

Suicide Door Disadvantages

  • If the front door is directly adjacent to the rear door, entering and exiting the car tends to be somewhat awkward, should passengers try to use both doors at the same time.
  • A passenger can be hit by the door should they fall from the moving vehicle.
  • The aerodynamics of the car can force these rear-hinged doors to pop open at high speeds in older models.

7. Dihedral Door

The Dihedral door is a hybrid of the Scissor car door type, with the only difference being that the Dihedral door opens by moving outward, while at the same time rotating 90 degrees at the doors hinge.

Some of the popular car models using this door type are the Koenigsegg Agera, Agera R, and Agera RS, McLaren F1, the Koenigsegg CC8S, CCR, CCX, One:1 and Regera. Dihedral doors are a recent design in the car industry, its name coming from geometry terms.

Their hinges are located on the A-pillars, supporting the entire door and mechanisms. This car door type is as innovative as the Scissor door was in its day.

Dihedral Door Advantages

  • Easier to exit and enter the car

Dihedral Door Disadvantages

  • Parking too close to a high curb can damage the door and with the doors being carbon fiber, the repair bills can be a hefty one.

5. Swan Door

The Swan door is closer to a traditional car door type, with one difference. They are hinged a little bit higher and on an angle in order to create more space. This car door type is popular with cards like the Aston Martin, Jaguar C-X75, and GTA Spano to name a few.

Swan Door Advantages

  • Gives the car a stylish look
  • Convenient in tight parking spaces

Swan Door Disadvantages

  • Due to the design of the door, it can make it uncomfortable for the driver to close the door should it be in a tight space.

8. Raptor Door

The Raptor car door style is like the Scissor door; however, its mechanics are a bit more complex. These doors first open outwards and then glide gently down and parallel to the car’s body. They are recoil actuated, which means a small tug is all that is needed to close the door.

The car gets its name from the mechanisms function and working parts, with a combination of rotational geared pivots being deployed by the door’s pivoting recoil actuated orbital retractor.

The doors were launched in 2007 and the Ferrari GG50 is but one of the major car models using this design.

The Raptor car door type can be fitted in 3 positions on the body of the car, giving it a Lamborghini look with its 90-degree pivoting door, which can go below or above the fender, or give it the look of a Koenigsegg model with the door being able to pivot next to the fender.

Raptor Door Advantages

  • The door is easy to close due to its recoil actuated mechanism.
  • The door can be fitted in three positions, offering different style and accessibility.
  • Can be useful when parking in tight spaces, given that the doors stay within the track of the car through their entire movement range.

Raptor Door Disadvantages

  • Parking too close to a high curb can damage the door if fitted like a Koenigsegg model.
  • The door can come into contact with the ceiling of a parking garage if the height of the ceiling is not sufficient when fitted like a Lamborghini model.

9. Sliding Door

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 was used to open outward.

Sliding Door Advantages

  • Great for use in tight parking spaces.
  • Easy access for loading and unloading goods, as well as passengers.

Sliding Door Disadvantage

  • The doors are more expensive to install.
  • The door mechanism has a narrower tolerance than your conventional hinged door.

10. Canopy Door

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 Door Advantages

  • With a traditional car door, they open outwards and obstruct the pavement or road. The canopy doesn’t have this problem as it opens vertically.
  • Because there are no side doors, A-pillars are not necessary. Which means the windshield can extend from front to back, allowing for a 180-degree field of vision for drivers.

Canopy Door Disadvantages

  • Because of the all-glass design, its necessary for these cars to have climate control or air-conditioning due to its greenhouse effect.
  • Should the car roll over in an accident, it would be impossible to exit the vehicle unless you break the glass.
  • Because of the high sill and somewhat awkward roof positioning, exiting and entering the vehicle can be hard.
  • With bad weather, such as hail, rain or snow, entering or exiting the vehicle without the interior getting wet is impossible. The door would also be heavy to lift if covered in snow.

11. 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.

12. Front Hinged Door

This care door type created a car with just one door. The entirety of the car’s front, including the instrument panel and steering wheel, is hinged and swings upwards in order to give access to both driver and passenger.

Should an accident occur, passengers would have to escape via the canvas sunroof. There was only one known car model to sport this car door type, and that was the BMW Isetta 600 from 1955 to 1962.

Front Hinged Door Advantages

  • Driver and passenger can step out of the car via the front. This eliminated the danger of being hit by oncoming card when exiting or entering from a side door.
  • Easier to park in tight spaces

Front Hinged Door Disadvantages

  • While it makes it easier to park in tight spaces, should you have a car parked closely in front of you, it can make it difficult to open the door.

There you have it! The variety of car door types can allow you to show off your style and stand out from the crowd, or give you the convenient access and safety you desire.