Unconventional door designs are often associated with exotic supercar brands like Lamborghini and McLaren. While both of those brands helped popularize some unusual door designs (the scissor and butterfly, respectively), they’re far from the only ones to do so.
Most cars on the road today use the same basic hinged door design that has been standard for decades. However, some odd designs can be found in almost every vehicle class. Some of the most unique ones have been used in affordable economy cars. Unsurprisingly, most of these cars were made by companies outside of North America, as Americans don’t typically go in for the quirkier side of automotive design.
If you’re a fan of unconventional vehicle designs, read on to discover the 11 weirdest car door designs of all-time.
11. TVR Tuscan – Push-Button Doors
Described by Auto Trader’s Doug DeMuro as the “European take on the Dodge Viper” and “absolutely ridiculous in every way”, the TVR Tuscan is a truly unique sports car. Manufactured from 1999 to 2006, the Tuscan has the looks of a retro spy car. In fact, it was featured as such in the 2003 film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. You may also remember John Travolta behind the wheel in 2001’s Swordfish. A lot of attention can be paid to the TVR’s 370-horsepower, six-cylinder engine, which allows it to go 0-to-60 in 3.68 seconds. However, plenty of sports cars can hit those speeds. What really sets the TVR apart is its bonkers door system.
You need to press separate buttons in order to get in and out of the car, as there are no exterior or interior handles. As if that wasn’t enough, it has windows that roll down at inconsistent intervals and a bolted down hood. It may not have flashy scissor doors, but good luck trying to get in and out of a TVR Tuscan without consulting the owner’s manual.
10. Ford GT – Guillotine Doors
It’s actually easy to forget that the 2005 Ford GT has unconventional doors. Since the roof is incorporated into the top of the doors, it gives the appearance of a horizontal guillotine (hence the name). It was actually inspired by the original Ford GT40 used in the famous 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race. That classic Ford was popularized in the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari.
The original GT40’s guillotine doors allowed for easier driver switches during a race. However, since the 2005 GT was designed as a road car, this functionality serves very little purpose. In fact, it actually makes it more difficult for drivers to get in and out of the car if it’s parked close to a wall or another vehicle.
9. DeLorean DMC-12 – Gullwing Doors
Gullwing doors may have originated with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, but it was the DeLorean DMC-12 that made them famous. You can thanks to the car’s iconic appearance in the 1985 film Back to the Future for that. Although the DMC is actually a pretty disappointing car in terms of performance, its striking looks are undeniable. The gullwing doors are an important part of its appeal.
In fact, as revealed on the film’s commentary track, Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale chose the car as the film’s time machine because its gullwing doors made it look like an alien spaceship. That and the “stainless steel finish looks great.”
8. Nova Sterling Kit Car – Roof Canopy
Does the Nova Sterling Kit Car even have doors? It’s a fair question to ask when you consider the vehicle’s entire top (door areas included) are part of a unique lifting canopy.
Designed by a couple of young car enthusiasts in the early 1970s, the Nova looks similar to other composite-bodied production cars (Corvette, Lotus) that were being made at the time. However, the Nova is one of the only production cars to ever use a front-hinged canopy door and remains a truly distinctive design to this day.
A number of licensed versions of the Nova were built outside of the U.K. under different names. For instance in Austria, it’s known as the Ledi. In Australia, they call it the Purvis Eureka.
7. Lamborghini Countach – Scissor Doors
Scissor doors are probably the first thing come to mind for many when they think of strange car door designs. Naturally, they had to make the list! Lamborghini largely popularized the scissor door, with the Countach model pioneering the design in 1974. Contrary to what you might think, the scissor doors actually serve a purpose other than simply looking cool.
The original Countach had very poor rear visibility. That made reversing not just difficult but a legitimate safety concern. The implementation of scissor doors allowed drivers to open the door upward and look back as they reversed. Of course, hitting low ceilings were an issue with this design. Then again, if you can afford a Lamborghini, you can probably afford a garage with a high clearance too.
6. McLaren F1 – Butterfly Doors
Not to be confused with scissor doors, butterfly doors are basically their more aggressive cousin. Popularized by the McLaren F1, butterfly doors can be found on several high-performance cars, including the Enzo Ferrari and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Although similar in appearance and functionality to scissor doors, butterfly doors actually have their own set of comparative advantages and disadvantages.
Since they open up towards the car’s windshield, butterfly doors have increased clearance. That allows for easier passenger access. Unfortunately, because of the way the doors are hinged, they take up more horizontal space when opened. That can make parking in cramped spaces more difficult. You’ll have to also watch that the doors don’t scrape any low ceilings — just like scissor doors.
5. Peugeot EX1 Concept – Bucket Seat Doors
The only car on this list to never go into production, the Peugeot EX1 is still worth mentioning because its door design was unlike anything else. With the EX1, Peugeot set out to design a vehicle that was much easier to get in and out of than the average low-riding sports car. This three-wheel, electrically powered speedster had seats that were literally part of the doors.
When the door opens, the set bucket swings out with it. This means your legs only enter the car when the door’s closed. The EX1 was unveiled nearly a decade ago. However, judging by the lack of cars with bucket seat doors on the market, it’s safe to say Peugeot’s innovative design has yet to catch on.
4. Mitsuoka MC-1 – Plastic Doors
There are two very good reasons you’ve probably never seen a Mitsuoka MC-1 on the road. For one thing, it was a Japanese exclusive when it was manufactured between 1998 and 2007. More importantly, it’s basically a golf cart with plastic coverings for doors.
No, that’s not a typo.
The MC-1 has what amounts to a removable tarp for doors. At least you’d have some protection from the rain when you’re cruising along at a blistering top speed of 31 mph. Honestly, it’s probably for the best that the MC-1 is only equipped with a 6 hp engine. Its plastic and fabric structure — combined with a lack of airbags — would have made it a death trap with anything stronger.
3. Smart Crossblade – Blade Doors
Lacking doors, a roof, or a windshield, the Smart Crossblade looks like someone took a rollercoaster cart and turned into a production car. Technically, the Crossblade does have “doors” (or else it wouldn’t be included on this list), though they’re really more like bars to keep you from falling out.
Essentially a Smart Fourtwo model with the aforementioned parts removed, the Crossblade was released in 2002 as a limited run of only 2,000 units. Although British pop star Robbie Williams purchased Crossblade number 008 and even stuck up a marketing partnership with Smart, the Crossblade never became more than a novelty offering. For whatever reason, asking drivers to act as their own windshield just never caught on!
2. BMW Isetta – Front-Mounted Door
The BMW Isetta is a microcar that first hit mass production in 1955. It was cutely nicknamed the “bubble car” due to its egg shape and bubble-like windows. While those features are certainly striking, it’s the Isetta’s front-mounted door that’s the real head-turner. It was the only way for a driver and passenger to enter the vehicle, since it had no side doors. Combined with its diminutive profile, the Isetta has to be one of the easier cars in the world to park, as you can leave the smallest gap on either side and still be able to comfortably enter and exit.
BMW managed to sell over 150,000 Isettas before it was discontinued in 1962. While we’d like to think people bought the car for its novel door design, it more likely had more to do with the Isetta’s impressive fuel economy — 78 mpg!
1. Messerschmitt KR200 – Side-Mounted Canopy
Have you ever dreamed of driving around in a coffin on wheels? We can only imagine that’s what driving a 1956 Messerschmitt KR200 feels like, given the car’s slim profile and right side-mounted bubble canopy. Before making the move to cars, Messerschmitt was a famous German airplane manufacturer. The company is actually credited with inventing the car canopy.
Unfortunately, while the KR200’s bubble canopy is certainly unique, its placement makes it difficult for passengers on the right side to enter and exit the car. This is part of the reason why most bubble cars switched to front or back-hinged canopies in the years following. Production of the K200 ceased in 1964 due to declining demand. No wonder.