General Question

gorillapaws's avatar

Why haven't gull-wing doors been incorporated into more cars over the years?

Asked by gorillapaws (16066 points ) September 9th, 2010

There has to be some reason gull-wing doors aren’t in more car models. Is there a safety issue? Are they harder to manufacture? More expensive to produce? Do people frequently hit their heads? Any engineers/car enthusiasts out there know what the deal is?

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11 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

wouldn’t a car like that make going to an ATM impossible? Wait, sorry i guess the window will go down. Anyway maybe they are hard to get in and out for old people. it’s old people who have all the money and those cars are too expensive to sell to ordinary folk? I really don’t know.

wenn's avatar

i would think its more of a usability/functionality issue. they just arent as easy for people to use on a daily basis. and they probably do cost more to manufacture, since the hinges are built into the roof instead the door frame like normal cars.

ipso's avatar

It’s expensive.

That’s my understanding of why it’s not in mass production cars. I read about this exact topic somewhere. Probably SpeedTV.com ‘s blog, which is was by far the best place to ask something like this. A lot of industry guys there. That was some time ago though, on their old platform, now archived. I can’t find the thread.

Here is a keen collection of beautiful examples. The scisor door is a better idea.

Logically – you need a lot of girth in the door of a non-exotic car for side-impact protection. It’s a very different proposition to lift and balance that mass vs. just pivoting it. Also putting the hinge (and support structure) up high on a car is a bad thing. Just a very inefficient and costly option.

Now if your doors are fiberglass and you have aluminum hinges…, but again, that’s expensive.

That’s just my understanding.

Andreas's avatar

@gorillapaws Can you imagine all the fuss that would exist in parking lots? I think that is one reason we don’t see them in the general market place.

There is a door type where the doors go under the car, and there is no likelihood of scratching other cars with the doors. See this.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Andreas I agree with you about the parking situation. And the link about the disappearing car door is absolutely fabulous! I hope the idea takes off (no pun intended).

Andreas's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I thought it was amazing when I first saw it, too.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Doors are heavy. They are filled with safety windows, window regulators and motors, side guard door beams, and now, airbags. By pinning them on the side (conventional design) it takes very little effort to open. The vehicle frame holds the weight for the passenger.

With a gull wing design the passenger has to lift the door with all its mass, or the vehicle must provide an assist that will do the job every time. That is expensive and adds weight to the car.

Gull wing doors, like high heels, look sexy but are not very practical.

Harold's avatar

They let the rain in when opened, and you can’t open them with a low roof. They also make the roof structure weaker.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Gullwing doors are impossible to use in tight spaces. They swing outwards before upwards, so if there are cars close either side you can’t get out, and if there is a low roof you can’t get out. Mercedes had to fit explosives to the SLS to blow the door off in case of an accident.

The other problem is handling. A car’s handling relies a lot on its torsional rigidity, or its resistance to twisting, so it can keep all four wheels in close contact with the road. This is why convertibles almost never handle as well as their coupe cousins. Gullwing doors mean the roof is narrower, so there is less torsional rigidity and compromised handling. Good looks come at a cost.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Gullwings are also incompatible with motorized sunroofs and convertible tops.

gorillapaws's avatar

I just wanted to thank everyone for their insightful answers.

@Andreas that video of the disappearing car door was pretty incredible.

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