I bet most of you have had this thought race through your mind at least once or twice, even if that thought did not bother to pause long enough for you to actually consider it. It likely happened as you, perhaps, gazed admiringly at a Volkswagen Thing. The thought is this: how many four-door cars have interchangeable front and rear doors?
I was reminded of this automotive puzzler via a tweet a few days ago, about the Beijing Jeep BJ2000:
I believe the BJ2000 certainly does have the same front and rear doors, and so do earlier Beijing Jeeps, like the BJ212:
The heavily-angled door design reminds me of a Soviet GAZ 69 jeep as well:
There’s really not many others that I can think of, and those that do exist tend to be military, or at least military-derived vehicles. I can only think of a couple civilian production vehicle exceptions, and they’re only partial, at best.
Let’s start with what we do know. The VW Type 181/Thing, of course, I suspect may be the most famous example:
Thing doors are interchangeable, front and rear. The Thing started life as a military vehicle, but of course there were many civilian versions sold. The Thing’s spiritual and technological predecessor, the wartime Kubelwagen, also seems to have interchangeable front and rear doors, but I think the square doors needed to be flipped 180 degrees for this to work, as they are center-hinged, with the front pair being suicide doors:
For a civilian production vehicle that did not start out as a military vehicle, maybe you could count the crew-cab Dodge Power Wagon, which had rear doors that I think were just slightly cut-down front doors, making that odd B-pillar:
Beyond this, the only real purely civilian vehicle design I can think of was a concept from the ever-thrifty AMC (who pioneered interchangeable left and right side doors with the Nash Metropolitan) in a concept known as the Cavalier:
The Cavalier’s doors, with the suicide doors at the rear, could be flipped as a pair 180 degrees to work on either side, not unlike the Kubelwagen. The Cavalier, as you can probably see, formed the basis for the AMC Hornet design, though they didn’t follow through with the daring swappable-doors plan.
There must be more of these front-rear-door-duplicate cars I’m not thinking of, right? If you do know of some, legally you have to tell me in the comments. That’s the rules.