Quick: what’s the one thing that, to most people, defines a supercar? Power? Speed? Advanced engineering? Money? Wrong, wrong, wrong, and sort of right. But trumping all these criteria, to the average person, there’s but one real indicator of supercardom: weird doors.
When I say “weird doors” what I’m referring to are doors that open in non-conventional ways – more unconventional than suicide doors, even. The main reason that anyone owns a supercar is to make the most dramatic impression possible when the car parks and you exit. The best way to make that impression is to have doors that open in unexpected ways, like, say, up.
This concept was perhaps most effectively communicated to the mainstream, non-gearhead world via this little clip from the HBO series Silicon Valley:
See that? See that rage? That man is angry about his Maserati Quatroporte because the car makes the grave, grave error of having doors that open like, well, a door. Not like the wings of a soaring eagle, or like the slash of a sword from its scabbard. And without those doors, that almost billionaire may as well be driving an Elantra, and he knows it.
The two doors that were effectively pantomimed in that clip, gull-wing doors and scissor doors, are both very much hallmarks of the supercar. Those two, along with the sort of hybrid of both, the butterfly door, are pretty much all the novel ways supercars open their doors.
Let’s face it, though: these doors are rapidly losing their luster. The gullwing door, the grandaddy of all the exciting door designs, first showed up way back in 1952 on the Mercedes-Benz 300SL race car. Since then they’ve been the trademark of DeLoreans, Bristols, Paganis, and even the tiny Autozam AZ-1. They’re iconic and still popular (variants are on the Tesla Model X) but come on, they’re a little played-out, supercar-impact-wise.
Scissor doors came out in 1968, on the Alfa Romeo Carabo concept car, and there’s no doubt that they’re still dramatic. They’ve been a staple on Lamborghinis for years, and there’s plenty of happily ridiculous kits out there if you really wanted to put them on a Sentra. These are also played-out.
Butterfly doors are even older than the scissor door, from around 1967, in another Alfa design, the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.
Incredibly, there seems to have been no real major innovations in bonkers supercar door design for almost 50 years! This is deeply troubling. If supercars are going to maintain any sort of hold on our collective consciousness, there needs to be some major innovations in the field of bonkers doors, and fast.
Luckily, I’m here to help.
I’m happy to present to you the five first new bonkers supercar door designs in nearly 50 years. These designs have been developed with two primary goals in mind:
• First, and most importantly, drama. Opening and closing these doors should be an event. These doors are the reason you bought a supercar in the first place; if you wanted something fun and fast to drive hard, you’d have gotten an Ariel Atom or a track-prepped Miata or some 911 variant or something. These doors are meant to let the world know that you’re not afraid to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a car, because, somehow, you’re just astounding. These doors will convey that to everyone capable of seeing you in your car. Videos will be taken, tweets will be twittled, lives will be changed.
• Second, I guess the door should allow you to get in and out of the car, somehow.
Just to keep your mind on the design and not the car, I just drew a quick little hypothetical supercar, which I’m calling the Vuvuzela Onanist GTH. With that in mind, here are the five new supercar bonkers door designs:
Finger Doors are sort of like two gullwing doors, hinged at the top and bottom of the car’s door opening, that meet in the middle. Where they meet, just to make things even more exciting, would be a crenelated seam, sort of like two sets of interlocking fingers.
The lower door would be lined on the inside to act as a step, and protected from scratching on the part that touches the ground.
These would be powered, and would open just slowly enough to be dramatic, possibly with jets of steam blowing and hissing as the doors open. I can see these working very well on a Spyker.
These are perhaps the most radical doors I’m proposing, since they inherently need to have a circular opening, which would require a fairly specialized design for the host car.
But still, boy would it be worth it. There’s nothing more satisfying to watch, mechanically, than an iris mechanism, I think. Perhaps the elements that form the iris could be made of tinted glass, so you wouldn’t lose the side windows of the car, too. Nobody would forget a car with Iris Doors.
These are almost as radical as the Iris Doors, and would require a lot of technical experimentation and some excellent sealing and gasket work, but I think the results could be remarkable.
I’m imagining a door that’s been divided into a grid of segments. Each segment is held to the other via braided metal aircraft cables and powerful electromagnets.
When the door is opened, power is cut to the magnets in an organized, cascading way, causing the door to ‘relax’ and collapse down upon itself in an elegant, mechanical waterfall.
When closing, the electromagnets are re-engergized, pulling the door back together in a shocking, noisy and exciting display that will make people gasp with its drama and speed.
No two openings and closings would be quite the same. I’d really love to see a door built on these principles in action, so I hope there’s some smart Bugatti engineers reading this.
These may be the most conventional of the new designs, being sort of like a pair of mated scissor doors that meet at a 45° angle. When the doors open, one side swings up and forward, the other down and back.
Simple, dramatic, showy.
You know who’s cool? Astronauts. And you know who the coolest astronauts were? The very first ones, the Mercury astronauts, the Vostok cosmonauts. Why? Because they had no idea what they were getting into. And how did they exit their capsules? Through hatches with exploding bolts.
Just imagine how awesome it’ll be if you pull up your supercar to some swank event and then BAM the door blows off in a cloud of smoke and flame. As you step out of the acrid smoke, over the bodies writhing in pain, clutching bloody lacerations, you’ll know you’re the baddest bitch ever.
Look, why are we even playing around here? You’ve got more money than God’s bookie, you’ve got a supercar, so spend the freaking cash and get some Malaysian lab to knock you off a living T-Rex, then pump it so full of dinosaur boner pills it can’t think straight, and cover your supercar’s doors in female T-Rex juices, and let nature take its course.
Park, have your handler team release the crazy horny T-Rex, which will rip the doors off your car and yank you out from the cabin. There’s no more dramatic entrance possible, anytime, anywhere, ever.
Sure, it’ll probably dry-hump you to death and eat you, but come on. What a way to go, right?