An Amazing Design Concept:
This website claims to be able to retrofit its door as a modification of existing car models as well as a design for production cars. The website looks hinky and this blog and comments are skeptical. Perhaps readers know more about this product. As a concept, however, it is very cool.

James456345634563465 (mail):
Having done a little bit of personal injury defense work, I wonder if this concept could survive the American tort system. The video's narrator says that the car eliminates the "B pillar" (See here). If this model were in production, someone would eventually be injured in a roll over accident, and he would claim an economically feasible, safer alternative design exists: a traditional door with a B pillar.

I haven't done enough work in this area to say with certainty that such an argument would succeed. Has anyone else?
1.25.2008 9:12am
Temp Guest (mail):
Checking led me to a site that seems to specialize in computer animation effects. The video clip is a brilliant illustration of these. Performing the supposed rotation of the door in your mind shows that the technique is a clever illusion and geometrically impossible. The only way it could be done is if the door were constructed of slats like the cover of a roll-top desk. Still it's an amusing take-off on ads that try to sell cutting edge technology to the most ridiculously rich, upscale, and idle elements of society.
1.25.2008 9:12am
All I can think of is how much snow would get inside that thing.
1.25.2008 9:20am
Dale C. Wyckoff:
It looks pretty cool. But what about rainy days?
1.25.2008 9:34am
Waldensian (mail):
I can't believe my women let them shoot this ad at my summer estate. I'm going to have to gather them in the Great Hall for a lecture on the responsible use of my assets.
1.25.2008 9:36am
Tipton (mail):
Isn't that a hoverboard in the back seat?
1.25.2008 10:28am
Eric Wilner (mail) (www):
And what happens when you leave the car parked for too long (and/or there's a problem with the alternator), the battery goes dead, and the hood release is locked inside the car?
Yeah, I know: when the battery goes dead, you just have it towed away and buy a new car.
1.25.2008 10:29am
Uh_Clem (mail):
Looks like a silly gimmick. Kinda cool the first time you see it, but I don't see the utility, and the novelty would wear off soon enough.

Plus, I'd be really skeptical about the side-impact engineering. The doors on a car with good side-impact tests are fairly thick and heavy, this looked like the equivalent of a full length power window.
1.25.2008 10:37am
We owned a 1973 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser with a clamshell tailgate that was just like this -- the glass retracted into the roof electrically and door retracted into a pocket under the floor. It worked amazingly well -- we trailered quite a bit back then, and the door made it easier to get into the back of the wagon when the trailer was hooked up.

Eric: When the battery isn't working, you use your key to unlatch the door/window and operate them manually -- the doors need counterbalancing anyway (car-door-size electrical motors just aren't that powerful), so they're easy to move. The door on the Olds could be closed manually by pulling up sharply on a built-in handle until the door hit the latches.
1.25.2008 11:17am
It looks like the door retracts as a unit, so there's no reason why the side-impact protection would be different. It's just a girder built into the door and, once the door is closed and latched, this new door would work just as well as a "normal" one.

If you're concerned about driving around with the doors "open", on the other hand...
1.25.2008 11:25am
Adam Kolber (mail) (www):
To repeat a comment made above, does seem to be a website related to graphic design and animation.

But for that, it strikes me that this also could have been a very clever and subtle marketing campaign for Coca-Cola given the distinctive use of the can toward the middle of the clip.
1.25.2008 11:30am
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Seems to me, that the design could be very vulnerable to collision damage (or snow and ice in the works) which would prevent its operation and possibly trap the occupants in the car with no readily usable alternative exit. The door as depicted is sufficiently large, and the mode of retraction is such, that manual operation could be very difficult or impossible under even slight body damage.
1.25.2008 11:44am
Another Sam (mail):
There are many automobiles without a B pillar. For one thing, just about every convertible has no A pillar or B pillar (or C, etc...) as they have no structural roof to connect to the body. Besides convertibles, one popular vehicle without a B pillar is the Honda Element, which has two doors which open in opposite directions, meeting without a pillar. This vastly improves access to the inside.
1.25.2008 12:11pm
Houston Lawyer:
If this is possible, why haven't the guys who customize their cars into low riders and such done it. It would seem to have a lot of appeal to this demographic.
1.25.2008 12:42pm
pst314 (mail):
I suspect that a collision would be much more likely to jam these doors closed.
1.25.2008 1:05pm
I wondered why the door rotated beneath rather than above and then realised that if it were to go above it might interfere with the operation of the luxury ejector seats that one would instal as a means of escaping from terrorists.
1.25.2008 1:11pm
Muskrat (mail):
Whether it's real or not, I don't think it would do well. Imagine the first time you park over gravel, or on any uneven surface, and as the door swings under, you hear a crunching noise as the nice shiny outer surface of the door gets dragged across the pavement.
1.25.2008 1:16pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
BMW had a car (a two seater like the Z-3/4 but top of the line) with doors that retracted into the body like this in the mid-'90s. I believe it was only for the European market.
1.25.2008 1:25pm
A solution in search of a problem.
1.25.2008 1:28pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Kinda neat looking, but I have an inherent distrust of any system that doesn't provide a manual override. And if anyone's seen the Mythbusters episode about escaping a car that's sinking in water, there are obvious problems with this.
1.25.2008 1:51pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
As noted, a well-executed fake, but a fake nevertheless:

(a) the entire dorr (not just the bottom half, like on an Olds wagon) including the side-beam or girder, the glass window, and the power window operator (watch the driveway scene) would have to rotate and slide under the floor into either a pocket built under the floor, or into an unprotected space under the floor;
(b) the door and window would have to be made of flexible material, or slats like a roll-top desk or roll-up garage door.

The claimed ability to do this as a retrofit drives the last nail into the coffin. Retrofit "gull-wing" doors and after-market sun-roofs are problematic enough, and not NEARLT the challenge this would be...
1.25.2008 2:06pm
Preferred Customer:

BMW had a car (a two seater like the Z-3/4 but top of the line) with doors that retracted into the body like this in the mid-'90s. I believe it was only for the European market.

You are thinking of the BMW Z1.

The Z1's doors were quite small and did not rotate; they simply slid straight down into a very high sill piece, the same way that car windows retract.

Slick car, though. It was not officially imported into the US, but there are some over here.
1.25.2008 3:15pm
I saw the prototype car for sale on eBay motors about a month ago. First thing I wondered was whether/how it works if the windows are iced-shut!

The prototype was in pretty rough shape. Lots of scratches on the doors. Interesting concept, though.
1.25.2008 3:25pm
Anonymous Reader:

I like it. I'm sure the same was said about suicide doors and whatnot when they first came out. I find it hard to believe that it's a fake and heres why: prior to the door opening, a small lip reveals itself underneath the door and forms a pseudo sleeve for the door to fit into. The door slides into this sleeve, which i assume would protect it from gravel or whatever. When it closes, the door slides out and as the door closes shut, the lip closes the sleeve.

Now, I'm pretty sure that there is an element of exaggeration just as you would see whenever a radically new car design hits the street, however I think the choice of vehicle used speaks volumes. This door (and if someone has some general specs I would appreciate it) seems to be pretty short which would eliminate the need for the door and window to have "slats" in order to roll underneath the car. Just a cursory thought of the geometry involved makes this idea seem doable if the door is short enough and the lip deep enough to insert a car door. I assume the interior floor is nothing but a thin sheet of material to allow the door to fold under.

That's my plausible argument. Which I'm sure can be/will be poked thoroughly with holes, but the innovation and creativity is a nice touch. When was the last time a door was modified?

Anonymous Reader
1.25.2008 3:56pm
Anonymous Reader:
I would also add that the door itself has been modified to enable a thinner and more concave shape.

My only qualm is why not use this idea on a truck, van, or SUV with a higher clearance?

Anonymous Reader
1.25.2008 3:59pm
LM (mail):
FWIW, a comment to this video on YouTube:

This video is very old. I live in Detroit and work at the company that makes those cars, or I should say MADE those cars. We haven't made them for years.
1.25.2008 5:23pm
ForestGirl (mail):
Why does the guy have a British accent and the scenery looks like England but all the steering wheels are on the left?
1.25.2008 11:19pm