What are The Different Types of Car Doors?

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
  • Scissor Doors
  • Gullwing doors
  • Butterfly doors
  • Suicide Doors
  • Dihedral Door
  • Swan Door
  • Raptor Door
  • Sliding Door
  • Canopy Door
  • Front Hinged Door
What are The Different Types of Car Doors

1. Regular Doors

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.

2. Scissor Doors

Scissor Doors, also known as Lambo Doors, switchblade doors, Lamborghini Doors, etc., are automobile doors that rotate vertically at a fixed hinge at the front of the door, rather than outward as with a conventional door.

Scissor Doors are a common staple within the Lamborghini brand. So much so, that even when featured on other vehicles, drivers can’t help but refer to the door’s native roots. The doors are characterized as scissors because instead of opening like regular car doors, they open upward and pivot at the front of the door, behind the fender, much like scissor blades.

While you may think that scissor doors were created for styling purposes, there’s actually more to them than that. Of course, they do offer a distinct, unmistakably powerful look, but they were also seen as a necessity for safety.

One of the original purports of the spider door, the Lamborghini Countach, had poor rear visibility and in order to drive in reverse, drivers had to lean out the door and look behind them to see properly. Opening the doors upward allowed drivers to open the door without fear of hitting anything while backing up.

Though the visibility issue was resolved with later models like the Lamborghini Diablo and Murcielago, the spider door tradition continued.

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. Gullwing doors

In the automotive industry, a gull-wing door, also known as a falcon-wing door or an up-door, is a car door that is hinged at the roof rather than the side, as pioneered by Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, first as a race car in 1952 (W194), and then as a production sports car in 1954.

Opening upwards, the doors evoke the image of a seagull’s wings. In French, they are portes papillon (butterfly doors). The papillon door was designed by Jean Bugatti for the 1939 Types 64, 14 years before Mercedes-Benz produced its similar, famous 300 SL gullwing door.

The papillon door is a precursor to the gullwing door, and is slightly different in its architecture, but is often overlooked when discussing gull-wing design. Conventional car doors are typically hinged at the front-facing edge of the door, with the door swinging outward horizontally.

Apart from the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL of the mid-1950s and the experimental Mercedes-Benz C111 of the early 1970s, the best-known examples of road cars with gull-wing doors are the Bricklin SV-1 from the 1970s, the DMC DeLorean from the 1980s, and the Tesla Model X of the 2010s. Gull-wing doors have also been used in aircraft designs, such as the four-seat single-engine Socata TB series built in 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

Butterfly doors are a type of car door sometimes seen on high-performance cars. They are slightly different from scissor doors. While scissor doors move straight up via hinge points at the bottom of a car’s A-pillar, butterfly doors move up and out via hinges along the A-pillar. This makes for easier entry and exit, at the expense of requiring more clearance than needed for scissor doors.

Butterfly doors were first seen in the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale of 1967. These doors were commonly used in Group C and IMSA GTP prototypes, as they preserved the aerodynamic shape of the canopy while allowing the driver to enter and exit the car more quickly than conventional and gullwing doors.

The Toyota Sera, made between 1990 and 1995, was a limited-release car designed exclusively for the Japanese market and the first mass-produced vehicle with butterfly doors. The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is one of the few open-top cars to use butterfly wing doors. This is made possible by having hinge points along the side of the A-pillar instead of at the top.

Butterfly doors have been an adopted design of modern prototypes and supercars such as the McLaren F1, Toyota GT-One, Saleen S7, Enzo Ferrari (and its track day version, the FXX), Bentley Speed 8, Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, McLaren Senna, and Maserati MC20.

The McLaren 12C has a unique system wherein the butterfly doors do not use a top hinge. This allows the car and its convertible version to use frameless windows.

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.

5. Suicide Doors

A suicide door is an automobile door hinged at its rear rather than the front. Such doors were originally used on horse-drawn carriages, but are rarely found on modern vehicles, primarily because they are perceived as being less safe than a front-hinged door.

Initially standard on many models, later they became popularized in the custom car trade. Automobile manufacturers call the doors coach doors (Rolls-Royce and Lincoln), flex doors (Opel), freestyle doors (Mazda), rear access doors (Saturn), or simply describe them as rear-hinged doors.

Rear-hinged doors were common on cars manufactured in the first half of the 20th century, including the iconic Citroën Traction Avant. In the era before seat belts, the accidental opening of such doors meant that there was a greater risk of falling out of the vehicle compared to front-hinged doors, where airflow pushed the doors closed rather than opening them further.

Rear-hinged doors were especially popular with mobsters in the gangster era of the 1930s, supposedly owing to the ease of pushing passengers out of moving vehicles with the air around the moving car holding the door open, according to Dave Brownell, the former editor of Hemmings Motor News.

After World War II, rear-hinged doors were mostly limited to the rear doors of four-door sedans. The best-known use of rear-hinged doors on post-World War II American automobiles was the Lincoln Continental 4 door convertibles and sedans (1961–1969), Cadillac Eldorado Brougham 1956–1959 four-door sedans, and Ford Thunderbird 1967–1971 four-door sedans.

Suicide Door Advantages

Rear-hinged doors make entering and exiting a vehicle easier, allowing a passenger to enter by turning to sit and exit by stepping forward and out. This is important for passengers who need to make a dignified entrance; the UK State Bentley has rear-opening passenger doors that are broader than usual and open very wide, allowing the monarch to exit the car in a dignified way.

In combination with traditional front doors, rear-hinged doors allow chauffeurs easier access to the rear door. In Austin FX4 taxis, drivers were able to reach the rear exterior door handle through the driver’s window without getting out of the vehicle.

Rear-hinged doors also allow a better position for a person installing a child seat into the back seat of a vehicle than conventional doors, while being simpler and cheaper to build than the sliding doors commonly used on minivans.

The combination of front-hinged front doors and rear-hinged rear doors allow for a design without the B-pillar, creating a large opening for entering and exiting the vehicle.

Suicide Door Disadvantages

When front doors are directly adjacent to rear suicide doors, exiting and entering the vehicle can be awkward if people try to use the front and back doors at the same time.

There are also a number of safety hazards:

  • Aerodynamic factors force rear-hinged doors open at speed in older cars. In 1969, Consumer Reports reported this problem on a Subaru 360.
  • If a person not wearing a seat belt falls out of a moving car with a coach door, the door can catch them and drag them along the road at speed, causing serious injuries.
  • If a person exits a vehicle while parallel parked and a car hits the door, the person would be crushed instead of the door being ripped off.

Car manufacturers mitigate these hazards with such safety features as seat belts and locks requiring front-hinged doors to be open before permitting rear-hinged doors to open.

6. Dihedral Door

This is one of the most recent designs in the world of car doors, and the name comes from geometry. We are not going to take the time to explain what Dihedral means, because we want to focus on doors in this story, and not on the years of work required by teams of talented engineers to design those parts.

In short, dihedral doors are found in the Koenigsegg range. A door that can be considered a dihedral will open to the side, and then upwards and at an angle. It is worth noting that they also have hinges on the A-pillars, which help support the entire device.

Koenigsegg’s creation has provided us with a set of doors that are as innovative as the scissor doors of the Lamborghini Countach in their day. The main idea with Koenigsegg’s dihedral synchro-helix system is never to park too close to a high curb, or a big bill for carbon fiber repairs will be handed to you at the dealership.

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 hefty.

7. Swan Door

Swan doors are a type of door sometimes seen on high-performance cars or concept cars. Swan doors operate in a similar way to conventional car doors but unlike regular doors, they open at an upward angle.

This design helps the doors to clear curbs, especially on lower sports cars, by opening slightly upward and away from the curb. The name comes from a car’s resemblance with its doors open to a swan with its wings open.

Aston Martin has used the design on many of their models, including the DB9, DB10, DB11, DBS V12, One-77, Rapide, Vantage, Vanquish, Virage, CC100, and the Vulcan.

The design was also used by Aston Martin’s sister company, Lagonda, on the Lagonda Taraf, as well as by other manufacturers on the Hennessey Venom GT, Vencer Sarthe, and Pagani Huayra Roadster.

Concept cars have used Swan doors as well, including the Jaguar C-X75 concept, Nissan URGE, Bertone Nuccio, Lamborghini Asterion, Toyota NS4, and more.

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 car Door

A sliding door is a type of door is mounted on or suspended from a track for the door to slide, usually horizontally and outside.

It is a feature predominately relegated to minibusses and buses, to provide a large entrance or exit for passengers without obstructing the adjacent pathway between the vehicle and any adjoining object or the side(s) of a passenger, and commercial vans, so as to allow larger unobstructed access to the interior for loading and unloading.

Sliding doors are often used on the outside of mini MPVs, such as the Toyota Porte, Peugeot 1007, and Renault Kangoo, but are more commonly used in full-sized MPVs like the Toyota Previa, the Citroën C8, the Peugeot 807, the Chrysler Voyager and the Kia Carnival.

Their use has increased over the years as MPVs have increased in popularity because it gives easy access and makes parking in tight spaces possible. The most common type of sliding door, which has a three-point suspension and opens outwards, then runs along the side of the vehicle, was introduced in 1964 by Volkswagen AG as an option on its Type 2 vans.

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

A vehicle canopy is a rarely used type of door for cars. It has no official name so it is also known as an articulated canopy, bubble canopy, cockpit canopy, canopy door, or simply a canopy. A canopy is a type of door which sits on top of a car and lifts up in some way, to provide access for passengers.

It is similar to an aircraft canopy. There are no established sub-types of canopies, so they can be hinged at the front, side, or back, although hinging at the front is most common. Canopy doors are rarely used on production cars and are sometimes used on concept cars.

Canopy Door Advantages

  • Normal car doors open out of the car’s track, so they can obstruct the road or pavement when opened. This is not an issue with canopies as they open vertically.
  • A-pillars are not necessary as there are no side doors, so the windscreen can extend from the front to the back of the car, giving the driver a field of vision of more than 180 degrees and minimizing blind spots. A-pillars are sometimes still added, such as in the Sterling Nova, to give the car a more conventional look.

Canopy Door Disadvantages

  • Air-conditioning or climate control is necessary with an all-glass canopy or with a wrap-around windscreen because the canopy provides a substantial ‘greenhouse effect.
  • In the case of a rollover accident, exiting the vehicle would be impossible, short of breaking the glass.
  • Entering and exiting the vehicle can be hard with a high sill and awkward roof positioning. This problem was overcome with the Saab Aero X, which has a 3-part canopy to fully open the interior.
  • In situations of bad weather such as snow, rain, or hail, it is impossible to enter or exit the vehicle without getting the interior wet, unless undercover (you would also have to clear any significant snow accumulation off of the roof or it would be too heavy to lift).

11. Pocket Doors

A pocket door is a sliding door that slides along its width and disappears, when open, into a compartment in the adjacent wall, or as in terms of vehicles, into the vehicle’s bodywork.

Pocket doors are used in some delivery vans, as well as, for example, the Renault Estafette and Morris J4, and train carriages, such as the London Underground 1973 Stock, but rarely in cars.

Montreal Metro MR-63 and MR-73 wagons have two-panel pocket doors. The 1954 Kaiser Darrin had a unique setup of pocket doors that would slide into the front fender. Because of this, the doors had no side windows installed on them.

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.