Are Suicide Doors Making a Comeback?
Are suicide doors making a comeback? Hold on, backup, “suicide doors”? Yeah, that’s a thing. “Suicide doors” is just a slang term used to describe an automobile door hinged at its rear, a once popular design choice, that now seems to be making a comeback. At the 2017 North American International Auto Show (also called the Detroit Auto Show), many vehicle concepts had suicide doors, and we aren’t exactly sure why. The Chrysler 300 had them in 2013, the new Chrysler Portal concept has doors akin to them, but they don’t sound like a safe idea.
First, let’s look at the term “suicide doors”. As noted above, it’s a slang term given to automobile doors that open away from each other. The front doors open up towards the front end of the vehicle, like usual, but the rear doors open up towards the rear end of the vehicle. With both doors open, the side of the vehicle is completely exposed.
These doors were popular during the first two-thirds of the 20th century, and they were used on many well-known vehicles, such as the 1966 Lincoln Continental. They got the name “suicide doors” because if one or both doors were to come unlatched at high speeds, either could be flung open. With the wind, airflow, and lack of seatbelts, there was nothing to stop the driver or passenger from being flung from their seat and onto the asphalt.
Suicide doors remained popular in car design until 1971 when the last Ford Thunderbird was produced, but as we mentioned, many of the vehicles that have debuted at auto shows this year have them. Chrysler’s concept, the Chrysler Portal, also had a similar type of car doors called, “elevator doors,” or sliding doors that slide towards their respective end (like an elevator with two doors). But even with seat belts, there’s one problem with these kinds of doors – where’s the side beam?
Deleting the Side Beam
Is removing the side impact beam, the beam between the front and rear doors, also known as car pillar B, really a good idea? Yeah, that’s getting the gears turning – side impact. The most common type of side impact is what is known as getting “t-boned,” an accident where a vehicle hits another vehicle from the side, and in the worst situations cracks it in half like an egg.
Side impact door beams are typically made out of steel or aluminum, and the heavier the better. This is why they made SUVs such a big deal in the beginning. Lots of parents prefer their new teen drivers be in an SUV or a truck because the larger the vehicle, the larger the side impact beam, and the greater chance that if a crash were to occur, the door beam would absorb most of the energy during the collision. Now, without side impact door beams, where is all of that energy during an impact going to go? The rear passengers?
So given this, we need to ask one simple question, “Is style really worth dying over?”
It seems a lot of car companies are sacrificing safety over vehicle looks. We can’t say we agree with this, but we want to hear it from you, our readers. What do you think? Are suicide doors making a comeback, and if so, should they? Let us know on our social media.