What Are 'Suicide Doors' and Why Are They Called That?

Jane Lu
· 3 min read
Luxury cars
can come with some interesting features. Unfortunately, not all the features are safe.
Even cars from brands like BMW have faced brake recalls or other problems. For a while, one feature that was supposed to be luxurious was dangerous enough to get the nickname “suicide door.”
Suicide doors have hinges in the rear instead of the front like traditional doors.

What is a ‘suicide door’?

Traditional car doors have hinges in the front. According to
, true suicide doors are hinged from the rear and open wide. 
Carmakers such as Rolls-Royce and Lincoln prefer to call them “coach doors.” Mazda calls them “FlexDoors.” They were popular decades ago, and occasionally a new concept car will feature a rear-hinged door. 
reported that early cars copied fancy carriages and coaches. Carriages had copied the style of French doors, and cars followed the lead.
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How suicide doors got their name

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The pretty, French-style doors worked on early cars. They gave people lots of room to enter and exit, and this was especially important for upper-crust ladies wearing long gowns. 
Cars grew more powerful, however, and the doors became more dangerous. Rear-hinged doors could open while you were driving if they weren't closed properly. Consumer Reports found that this was a problem for the Subaru 360 in 1969.
Since many cars didn't have seatbelts at the time, you had a chance of falling out of the car when the doors opened. You could be injured by the doors if the offside of the car door is hit by another vehicle while you were exiting or entering. You could also hit a pedestrian when you open the doors.
Ralph Nader wrote Unsafe at Any Speed: The Dangers of the American Automobile in the 1960s. This inspired the government to implement safety standards that forced car companies to make their cars safer.
The car manufacturers installed seat belts and locks to comply with the standards. These days, suicide doors make it easier for parents to install child seats and for passengers to get in and out of cars.
You could still get smashed by the door if another car ran into you while you were exiting it. The doors lost favor over time, and the last regular car with proper suicide doors was the 2002 Toyota Tundra.

Which cars have suicide doors?

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Suicide doors are generally luxury touches on a few flashy concept cars or production models. The Toyota FJ Cruiser, Honda Element, Mazda RX-8, and some Saturn coupes have something similar called clamshell doors. These rear-hinged doors can't be opened until the front door is opened.
This year, there are only five models that use true suicide doors. This includes the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Dawn, Ghost, Phantom, and Wraith. The Dawn is a convertible, and the Wraith is a coupe. If you want a sedan, you have the Ghost or Phantom. You only have the Cullinan if you want an SUV.
The 2020 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition also had this feature. For 2019, Lincoln released an 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition. The Continental 80th Anniversary was a limited production run of 80 cars that sold out in a month.
All of these models are expensive. The Continental 80th Anniversary was the cheapest at around $110,000; the other cars are over $300,000 new.
Naturally, if you get one of these cars, you will need to insure them against the possible risks.
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