You don't need a supercar to have cool doors.
There’s far more to a supercar than something as superficial as a cool pair of doors. But, when an engaging chassis meets a sonorous engine and handsome styling, a good set of doors adds the final touch to a mega supercar – giving it the wow factor it should have.
However, you don’t have to spend millions to get a cool set of doors on your daily ride, giving you that daily wow factor or futuristic spaceship styling. We’ve chosen the coolest doors around for you – though some of the cars they come attached too aren’t always the coolest.
Gullwing doors are iconic, made famous by the Mercedes-Benz 300SL initially, but later on in pop culture by the DeLorean DMC 12 from the Back to the Future movie franchise. Along the way, there have been other cool cars with gullwing doors, such as the Autozam AZ-1 kei car and the Melkus RS1000. In recent years, the SLS AMG and Pagani Huayra have been the most famous gullwing adorned vehicles.
But if you’re looking for gullwings in the modern era on a non-supercar you’ll find them on an unlikely candidate. The Tesla Model X might advertise them as ‘Falcon doors’, but they’re just a variation of traditional gullwings. The front doors open in a traditional front-hinged manner, but the rear doors open upwards giving the family electric crossover an imposing stance. The Falcon doors are useful in tight spaces, opening upwards and away from potentially scratching other vehicles.
Did you know that the butterfly door design on the McLaren F1 was inspired by the doors of the Japanese Toyota Sera?– That’s what Gordon Murray, the F1’s designer, said in any case. The door style now adorns sports cars and supercars like the BMW i8, LaFerrari, McLaren 720S, and Mercedes-AMG Project One.
However, one German manufacturer has given a modern road car the butterfly effect. The Volkswagen XL1 was a compact 2-person plug-in hybrid diesel car, designed and produced in limited numbers to be ultra-efficient. The XL1 achieved a US mpg rating of 260 mpg, thanks to a two-cylinder turbo-diesel engine paired with a 5.5kWh battery pack and electric motor. The teardrop design was ultra-aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of just 0.186, and combined with a curb weight of just 1,753 lbs, the XL1 was capable of gliding along effortlessly. The performance was decent too, with a governed top speed of 98.2mph and a 0-60 mph sprint time of 11.9 seconds. A total of 250 VW XL1s were made in its limited production run, with one recently popping up for sale if you're interested.
They’re most commonly known as Lamborghini Doors, after being made famous by the brand’s repeated usage of the door style, but their real name is scissor doors. Very few road-going cars exist with scissor doors, and those that do are almost exclusively high-end supercars. Those that aren’t are usually concepts; however two road-going commuter cars exist with scissor doors. The Renault Twizy is one, though doors are an optional extra. But the Tata Pixel features them as standard, amongst many other innovations.
The Indian manufacturer has built the Pixel for city mobility within Europe, giving the pod-like city car a range of tech to make it the perfect city car. Powered by a 66-horsepower 3-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, fuel economy is rated at 69 mpg. But it’s the turning abilities that set the scissor-doored city car aside, with wheels that can turn 105 degrees for an 8.5-foot turning circle, which engineers call ‘zero turn’ drive; clever thinking from the company that owns Jaguar Land Rover.
‘Canopy doors’ is a broad spectrum term applied to a range of door types that don’t have a single fixed name or manner of operation. Generally, the cockpit opens as a whole, with either the entire front or top of the vehicle lifting to allow ingress. Canopy doors can be hinged either at the front, back, or sides, and have been used on numerous concept cars throughout the years, such as the Lamborghini Egoista. But while many canopy doors open upwards like fighter jets, the BMW Isetta is the most common front-canopy door around. The door style was popular on other bubble cars of the era, but the Isetta was the most famous, and arguably most influential as it’s the vehicle that saved BMW’s bacon.
Called coach doors by Rolls-Royce, suicide doors are doors that open up in a traditional manner but hinged at the rear rather than the front. They derived their name from the fact that if they were opened whilst driving, the door would be flung wide open by the wind, leaving the occupant capable of freely falling from the vehicle, likely to their death. Grim, right, this is why perhaps modern manufacturers don’t like the terminology. Many have produced vehicles with suicide doors though, with a notable icon being the Mazda RX-8.
However, the most recent example has been the BMW i3, the compact electric city car built with extensive use of carbon fiber and recycled materials. It features a flat floor inside to make the most of its space, and the suicide doors help make the most of a small footprint, by making the door aperture wider for rear occupants. However, as the rear doors effectively form the B-pillar of the i3, rear passengers can’t really climb in and out without the driver having to take their seatbelt off and open their door. Impractical, but what’s a little innovation without its kinks?
Sliding doors are usually the reserve of minivans and mini-buses, made for easy access and the reduced risk of bumping into other cars in parking lots. But variations of the sliding door principle have been used elsewhere, the coolest of which was the BMW Z1 sports car of the 1990s. The Z1 made use of unhinged doors that slid down into the door-sill seemingly disappearing entirely. It’s arguably the most memorable feature of the Z1, and one we still wish would be emulated to this day, as it’s possibly one of the coolest door styles on this list.