Interior Door Pulls Are Underrated Elements Of Automotive Design

Illustration for article titled Interior Door Pulls Are Underrated Elements Of Automotive Design
Photo: Andrew P Collins

I find car interiors difficult to photograph. That’s frustrating because, sometimes, a car’s cockpit is more interesting than its sheet metal outerwear. In such cabins, there’s one feature in particular that I often like the best: the handles you use to pull the doors shut.

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The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo’s door pull, pictured above, is not particularly interesting looking but it is sleek, robust, and tactilely satisfying. Along with some other door pulls I’ve seen recently, the Porsche Longroof’s cockpit reminded me how important these details can be.

My fascination with door pulls, like so many of my refined tastes (raises pinky), goes back to my high school driving days. Around 2004 I was freshly-licensed, barely shaving, and shopping for my second car. (My first car, a cherry red DC2 Integra, died an unceremonious death weeks after I acquired it but that’s a story for another time.)

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I eventually bought a 1989 Mazda RX-7 GTU, and once I climbed into it I found myself surrounded by the bluest, most quintessentially Decade Of Excess Sports Car cabins I could have imagined.

That Mazda, the S5 facelift of the FC second-generation, had a very dramatic and driver-focused cockpit. Giant center tach on the dash, loads of ancillary gauges, and these stout handles that made closing the doors feel like locking into a retro-futuristic spaceship.

This is a Japanese RX-7, similar to what mine looked like. You can see the door pull to the right.
This is a Japanese RX-7, similar to what mine looked like. You can see the door pull to the right.
Photo: Mazda

Since then, every time an automotive experience starts with nice door handles, I get a glimmer of joy.

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I mentioned my RX-7 because another car from the same era, kind of, which I saw recently had some good interior handles and, in addition to the Panamera I mentioned earlier, got me thinking about my appreciation for them all over again. Click a few pictures into our IG post from the other day on Mitchell Button’s Ferrari 308; look at those cool chunky grips:

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Not all cars have door pulls that double as “sit down, shut up and hang on” handles like these, my RX-7’s, or the Panamera Sport Tursimo’s, which you can white-knuckle with your right hand if you’re riding with somebody wild.

I’m not saying an interior door pull can make or break the look of a car, but when they are exceptionally cool they can really elevate a vehicle’s whole cockpit. When they’re strong enough to make you feel safe in the passenger seat, that’s a big bonus.

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And since Jalopnik’s commenters are the best, I’m sure there will be some pictures of great door pulls throughout history below this post by the time it’s been live for a few hours.

At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Show me some goodies!

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

As a mechanic, my only gripe with traditional door pulls that are just little recesses in the door card are that they give people a place to stuff their tissues and napkins.

The last thing I want when I get into a car is to play Russian roulette with your door pull. Is it full of snot and boogers? Full of possibly something else? Are they clean? You’ll never know.

There’s a special place in hell for people that do this.