Gullwing Doors : Disappearance with Time

Written by Tejen Dhankhar

Remember the glory of the ‘bird’ wing shaped Gullwing doors of the old Mercedes SLS AMG? The way they looked, the way they felt was undeniably cool and mesmerizing. Although the new AMG GT doesn’t carry those and there are very rare cars left on planet earth like the new model Tesla X that comes with Gullwing doors. So, why these ‘bird’ winged doors couldn’t find a good future? Here’s why.



It doesn’t need a very high end science experiment to design though, but, still gullwing doors are on a tough side to design. The first is that the weight of the door, which is generally pretty heavy, has to actively fight gravity on its way open instead of just pivoting on a traditional hinge. Fortunately you don’t have to just force passengers to just lift the whole weight of the door themselves. One solution (which the DeLorean uses) is to use a torsion bar to help, a rod that’s twisted to create tension when the door is closed, and that untwists and helps to lift the door once it’s opened. And like the Tesla X, you can also just power the doors
But, the things just simply don’t end here. You have to make sure the roof isn’t going to warp at all. You have to find room for the torsion bars and power assist in the small part of the roof that is not part of the door. You have to make sure they are properly sealed. So, a ‘regular’ door for car is easier to design and less time consuming than a gullwing door.


One of the other main challenges is the safety. According to the Federal Safety Standards, doors shall be designed in order to completely open in an event of a rollover crash. This is where many of the Gullwing doors struggle.
Solutions range from the crude to the expensive. DeLorean windows, for instance, are designed to be kicked out in case of emergency. Meanwhile the doors on the Mercedes SLS AMG are designed with explosive bolts that will fire the door off its hinges if the car is upside down. But no solution is quite as elegant as “don’t have Gullwing doors.” Or at least falling somewhere in the middle like the Tesla X, which has traditional doors up front and Gullwing in the back.
Also the side collisions are protected more in the normal doors and T-boning is easy while the Gullwing doors would strike harder. So, the ultimate solution to this problem is not having Gullwing doors.


Last but not the least. No matter how good they look, their practicality would always be questioned. Kids, old age people or short height people will always struggle in manoeuvring through these doors. If the doors are powered (like the Tesla X) it’s no real issue, but that’s both an extra expense and an extra point of failure

These are one of the main reasons that keep away the car manufacturers from designing and installing such cool looking doors to cars. The best solution has yet not been discovered and so it’s the best not to install them to keep things safe and less costly. And in the end they don’t make it to very many cars, and the ones they wind up on tend towards the expensive.

[ Image Source : Wikipedia.com ]