Car Door Types Explained for Those in Auto Body Technician Training

Front hinge doors are the most common type of car door

Over the years, manufacturers have come up with a few innovative ways to attach doors to cars. While some doors are designed to enhance the safety of the car, various doors have been designed to cater to other needs (even if those needs are mostly vanity-related). All car door types have certain advantages and disadvantages. 

Read on to discover some of the most common types of car doors and how they work.

Conventional Doors Explained for the Auto Body Repair Technician

Conventional doors are hinged at the front edge of the door, allowing the door to swing outwards from the car’s body. What makes these doors safer and such a popular option is that even if opened while the car is in motion, they’ll still stay shut as the wind will push it back against the body of the car. As someone looking into potential auto body technician careers, conventional doors are those that you’ll become most familiar with on a day-to-day basis. 

Suicide Doors

First popularized by Rolls Royce, but first used in horse-drawn carriages, suicide doors open in the opposite direction of conventional doors. Their name comes from the fact that the design can be dangerous when the vehicle is in motion. That’s because if a door is opened, it’ll likely fly open and stay open due to wind pressure. However, these doors do make it easier for passengers to exit and enter (hopefully, when the car is parked) by opening closer to the point of entrance. 

Sliding Doors

Common on minivans and commercial vehicles, sliding doors are mounted on a track and slide horizontally towards the rear of the car. These doors make for easier access. This can be pretty useful, especially when parked in tight spaces, like a mall parking lot or when stuck beside an especially bad parking job. Ideal for big families, a popular sliding door model is the Dodge Caravan.

Sliding doors open on a track to improve passenger access

Gull-Wing Doors

These doors, first used by Bugatti in 1939 and recently used by Tesla in the Model X, are named for their similarity to seagull’s wings, but might also be called up-doors or falcon-wing doors. These doors are hinged at the roof and open upwards, useful for crowded places with less parking options.

Scissor Doors 

These doors utilize a typical hinge, which is mounted at the front of the door. However, they rotate upwards instead of out by using a vertical configuration called a scissor joint. These doors allow for more rear visibility as drivers can open them and lean out to park. This feature makes the doors useful in smaller parking spaces. They were first designed in 1968, but have since been popularized by Lamborghini. 

Scissor doors open by rotating upwards

Butterfly Doors

Similar to scissor doors, butterfly doors move upwards. However, the difference between then lies in the motion of the door. The butterfly door is hinged along the A-pillar, opening outward and then upward rather than just upwards. Some might say that this motion looks similar to a butterfly flapping its wings, which is how these doors got their name. If you’re currently completing auto body technician training, you might already know that this design is typically used for sports cars, such as the Porsche 911 GT I.

Canopy Doors

The canopy door sits on top of the car and lifts to provide passenger access. These doors are rarely used, and can be dangerous in an accident if the vehicle were to land upside down, as it would be extremely difficult for passengers to get out. In order to function, they require an all-glass design for the windshield, roof, and sides. 

Once upon a time, they were seen as an incredibly futuristic option, appearing in the FX-Atmos concept car and even in the 1960s era cartoon TV show the Jetsons. However, due to practical and safety concerns, this design never really took off.

You can check it out in this short clip of the Jetsons:

Did you enjoy learning about the great variety of car doors? A career as an auto body repair technician may be right for you! 

Check out the Automotive Training Centre’s programs in the Surrey area today.

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