Suicide Doors and Other Cool Car Doors

DIY, Exterior  /   /  By Mark Bach

Most commuters don’t give much thought to their car doors. They open and close—and that’s about it. But everything changes when somebody steps out of a supercar with suicide doors.

Or the latest auto-show concept vehicle debuts with a fancy door that swings in a way you don’t expect.

It’s rare to see an low-priced production vehicle with an innovative door. But, car customizers can use an aftermarket door kit to change an ordinary car.

eBay Motors offers tons kits that allow a car door to slide, scissor, or extend like a bird’s wings.

Universal suicide-door hinges

Universal suicide-door hinges

What Are Suicide Doors?

Suicide doors use a hinge at the rear of the door. The door pivots from the back.

The name for these doors came from the worry that passengers could spill out if the airflow of a moving car slung the door wide open.

Also, according to legend, mobsters in the 1920s and 1930s used cars with suicide doors to push victims out of moving vehicles.

How Much Are Suicide Doors?

A suicide door hinge kit can cost anywhere from about $100 – $1000, depending on the kit, car, and number of doors you want to change. This does not include professional installation.

Shop suicide door kits

Where Did Suicide Doors Come From?

Early car manufacturers borrowed designs from the carriage industry. Many horse-drawn carriages had a rear hinged door to allow passengers easier access.

So it was only natural to continue with this door design. Some manufacturers switched to a front-hinged door.

Those that still offered doors with rear hinges called them coach doors, barn doors, or clamshells. This made them sound less dangerous to the car-buying public.

Suicide Doors Make Their Way to Cars

Suicide doors became more common in the early 20th century.

Hot-rodders saw that a rear hinged suicide door offered an easier way to get in and out of their ride. It became a common custom touch, especially on Ford models from the 1930s.

Here is a current offering on eBay Motors that feature the suicide doors. It’s a 1934 Ford Model 40, Three-Window Coupe.

Suicide Doors on 1934 Ford Coupe

1934 Ford Model 40 Three-Window Coupe

Suicide Doors in the 60’s

Fast forward thirty years. From 1961 to 1969, the Lincoln Continental was among the last four-door land yachts to have suicide doors. Those doors made for a grand entrance to the Continental.

The Continental competed with luxurious Cadillac models. Cadillac offered convertibles from 1961 to 1967. A two-door coupe snuck in for 1966. This 1961 is a first-year example of the Lincoln.

1961 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors

This 1961 is a first-year example of the Lincoln with rear suicide doors.

The four-door Ford Thunderbird from 1967 to 1971 was the last low-priced passenger car to have suicide doors.

1971 Ford Thunderbird

1971 Ford Thunderbird

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe

Types of Suicide Doors

Soaring with Gull-Wing Doors

In 1954, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 300 SL. It had distinctive gull-wing doors using hinges on the roof so they lift up.

Viewing the car with both doors up, it’s obvious how the doors earned their name.

The gull-wing door was a design need because the tubular frame was so tall that a a traditional door would not work.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG from 2010 to 2015 continued the gull-wing design tradition. But a gull-wing door can cause problems in a tight space. This is because the door swings out as well as up.

Tesla fixed this flaw with its all-electric Model X. The Model X uses a hinge on the door itself to fold it as the door opens and lifts.

Speaking of EVs, BMW offers a half-sized rear barn door for easier access to the back row of its i3 electric car.

Rolls-Royce still uses suicide doors on new models, like the Wraith and Phantom. Not exactly cheap.

Sliding Doors

1954 Kaiser Darrin Convertible

1954 Kaiser Darrin Convertible with a sliding door

Slider doors were common in delivery vans before soccer moms adopted them with their minivans.

The sliding door allowed a whole team of kids to get into the car without swinging doors into traffic or blocking the sidewalk.

UPS delivery trucks still feature the design for their brown parcel-delivery vehicles.

But the sliding design dates back all the way to 1954, the one year for the Kaiser Darrin. That passenger car had a pocket for the doors to slide, allowing easier exits in tight spaces.

Only about 400 Darrins were made, but they hold a unique spot in automotive history. No other manufacturer has since copied the design for production cars.

The Lambo Door or Scissor Door

And then, of course, there’s the “Lambo door.” Lamborghini created a lasting automotive design legacy with its so-called scissor-door design. The doors flip up from the front door pillar.

If you want to get technical, a door that pops out before rotating up is a dihedral synchro-helix door. The Koenigsegg sports-car made these famous.

There are a lot of aftermarket options for Lambo door kits to copy the look and functionality. These kits are available to make almost any boring car into a Lambo-like vehicle.

But people debate whether adding Lambo doors to models like a Corvette or Mustang is slick or a bit too flashy.

Lambo doors can be added to nearly any model, including this 2007 Corvette.

You can add Lambo doors to almost any model, including this 2007 Corvette.

Suicide Doors Today

Suicide doors might not come back for low-priced, modern production cars any time soon. Yet, car fans never seem to tire of them.

In 2019, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Lincoln brand, Ford offered a Continental Coach Door Limited Edition. Ford made 80 models. As you might guess, they sold out fast—in only 48 hours, despite a price of $110,000.

80th Anniversary Coach Door Lincoln Continental

Lincoln continued the tradition for 2020—the last year for the Lincoln Continental. This time, Lincoln expected the draw of suicide doors to last. Because of this, they didn’t put a cap on the number they are making.

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See Vertical Doors Car & Truck Bumpers & Parts for sale on eBay.

About the Author

Mark C. Bach has oil in his veins and remembers feeler gauges and brake springs. He has a love for all things that move, especially old-school muscle cars. Bach writes for a variety of outlets, including Chevy Classics and, and maintains