What are Suicide Doors?

Suicide doors, a distinct car door configuration featuring hinges at the rear rather than the front, have garnered attention for their unconventional design. Also recognized as coach doors or rear-hinged doors, they trace their roots back to the era of horse-drawn carriages and transitioned to early automobiles during the 1900s. Yet, in contemporary times, these doors are a rarity in the automotive landscape due to safety apprehensions.

The term “suicide doors” may evoke notions of risk, but their actual threat to passengers has been debated. Coined during the 1960s, the label emerged from concerns over safety, painting a potentially misleading picture. Modern assessments, including crash tests conducted on vehicles with suicide doors, have yielded intriguing results—revealing comparable safety profiles to conventionally designed doors. Despite these findings, automakers have gradually drifted away from this distinctive style in recent years.

In conclusion, suicide doors, with their historical ties to carriages and early automobiles, have invited both fascination and safety skepticism. While their moniker suggests peril, contemporary evaluations attest to their viability. Nevertheless, automotive trends have veered towards alternative designs, relegating suicide doors to a niche presence on today’s roads.

History of Suicide Doors

Suicide doors, also recognized as rear-hinged doors, hold a rich heritage within the automotive realm. Predominant in vehicles crafted during the early half of the 20th century, they notably adorned classics like the Citroën Traction Avant, offering enhanced accessibility to rear seating compartments.

The term “suicide doors” emerged in the 1960s, spurred by safety anxieties. The concern stemmed from the potential for these doors to unexpectedly open while a vehicle was in motion, risking the ejection of passengers. Nonetheless, contemporary safety advancements like seatbelts and door locks have significantly mitigated the risks, rendering suicide doors markedly safer than their historical counterparts.

In the present day, while suicide doors have lost some of their prevalence, select automakers like Rolls-Royce, Lincoln, and Mazda continue to incorporate them in their vehicle designs. To circumvent the negative implications linked to the term “suicide doors,” manufacturers often adopt alternative nomenclature such as “coach doors” or “FlexDoors.”

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Contrary to their label, suicide doors are not intrinsically perilous. When thoughtfully integrated and accompanied by appropriate safety mechanisms, they can impart a distinctively elegant and unconventional touch to an automobile’s aesthetics.

Design and Mechanics

Suicide doors, which are alternatively referred to as rear-hinged doors, boast a unique and discernible design that distinguishes them from the conventional counterparts. Unlike standard doors that feature front hinges, suicide doors showcase hinges at the rear, facilitating an unconventional opening direction. This innovative arrangement results in broader access points, significantly enhancing the ease with which passengers can embark and disembark from the vehicle.

Door Hinges

The hinges on suicide doors introduce a susceptibility to damage in case of collisions. This challenge has prompted automotive manufacturers to devise ingenious remedies aimed at fortifying the doors, thereby enhancing passenger safety. Among these solutions, the integration of reinforced frames has emerged as a notable approach, effectively dispersing the force of an impact across the entirety of the door structure.

Door Handles

Distinctive door handles are a hallmark of suicide doors, positioned conveniently near the rear of the door to facilitate effortless access from within the vehicle. However, maneuvering these handles from the exterior can prove to be a challenge. To surmount this obstacle, certain automotive manufacturers have innovatively introduced supplementary handles at the front of the door. This thoughtful enhancement streamlines door operation for passengers, both when inside and outside the car.

Usage and Popularity

In the past, suicide doors enjoyed widespread popularity within the automotive sector, although their adoption has dwindled over time, primarily due to apprehensions related to safety. Nevertheless, these unique doors continue to hold a special appeal for devoted car aficionados and collectors, preserving their charm and significance.

Classic Cars

During the 1930s and 1940s, suicide doors held a prevalent presence in the realm of classic automobiles, significantly contributing to their opulent allure and elegance. These eras marked a period characterized by luxury and distinctive style, with suicide doors serving as a noteworthy embellishment. Among the iconic classic cars that boasted this captivating feature are the 1930 Cadillac V-16, the 1941 Lincoln Continental, and the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, exemplifying a time-honored association with sophistication and automotive excellence.

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Modern Cars

In contemporary automobile design, the prevalence of suicide doors has notably diminished. Nonetheless, select car manufacturers have embraced a revival of this distinctive concept, albeit within a restricted production scope. A notable illustration is Rolls-Royce’s introduction of the Phantom Drophead Coupe in 2007, showcasing the revival of suicide doors in modern times. Additionally, the Mazda RX-8 and the Lincoln Continental Concept stand as further examples of modern vehicles that incorporate these unique rear-hinged doors, underscoring their enduring appeal and continued relevance.

Safety Concerns

Although suicide doors exude a distinctive and stylish aura, they indeed bring along a set of safety considerations. The very nomenclature “suicide doors” hints at potential hazards for passengers. The chief safety apprehension stems from the door’s inclination to swing open during vehicle movement, raising the specter of severe injuries or, in worst cases, fatalities.

An additional safety challenge inherent to suicide doors lies in their proper closure. Passengers shoulder the responsibility of ensuring a secure latch before the vehicle commences its journey. Failure to do so can trigger an alarming scenario wherein the door unexpectedly opens—a perilous situation impacting not only the occupants within but also fellow motorists sharing the road.

Furthermore, grappling with suicide doors can be particularly vexing, especially for children or elderly passengers. These doors tend to possess greater heft compared to conventional counterparts, amplifying the effort required for opening and closing. Passengers must exercise vigilance to avert the risk of finger entanglement while shutting the door.

Amid the allure of suave aesthetics, a judicious evaluation of safety concerns becomes imperative before selecting a vehicle equipped with suicide doors. Prioritizing the capability of passengers to adeptly manage these doors is paramount, ensuring their well-being and security throughout the vehicle’s journey.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Aesthetic Appeal

Suicide doors, also recognized as coach doors, exude an exclusive and chic allure, setting them distinctly apart from the conventional car door norm. Their presence bestows a timeless and refined aesthetic upon an automobile, a characteristic that garners admiration from ardent car aficionados. Beyond their visual appeal, these doors extend practicality by simplifying passenger ingress and egress, a particularly beneficial aspect for individuals with limited mobility.

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Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that the unconventional nature of these doors might not resonate with everyone and could prompt concerns regarding safety. Operating contrary to the norm, these doors can perplex passengers and drivers unaccustomed to their unique mechanism. Moreover, if not securely fastened, these doors can pose risks by unexpectedly swinging open during the vehicle’s motion.

In essence, while suicide doors undeniably radiate sophistication and convenience, individuals contemplating their inclusion should balance the allure with an awareness of potential challenges and safety considerations. This prudent approach ensures a well-informed decision that aligns with both personal preferences and security.


An eminent advantage of suicide doors lies in their facilitation of enhanced access to a car’s rear seat. This distinctive design feature engenders wider door openings in comparison to conventional counterparts, simplifying the process of passenger ingress and egress. Such a characteristic proves particularly advantageous for families encompassing young children or elderly members, who may encounter challenges while embarking and disembarking from a vehicle.

However, it’s crucial to note that a subset of individuals may perceive these doors as less secure in contrast to traditional variants. Given that suicide doors hinge at the rear, there exists a perceived vulnerability wherein unauthorized entry could potentially be achieved with less effort. Additionally, due to the specific door mechanics, ensuring proper closure can at times be a more intricate endeavor, potentially leading to issues such as air leaks and related concerns.

In summation, the merits of suicide doors encompass their facilitation of convenient rear seat access, especially pertinent for families with unique needs. Nonetheless, the aspect of security and the nuanced intricacies of door closure merit careful consideration when weighing the benefits against potential drawbacks.