Tesla had problems with its Falcon Wing doors - but crazy car doors have a long history


Tesla Model X Falcon Wing


Tesla's Falcon Wing doors are among the most recognizable features found on any car on the market today. No other SUV, let alone mass-production vehicle, is fitted with doors that are quite as interesting and packed with technology as the Falcon Wings. Not only are they they electronic - they're packed with a variety of sensors that can detect how much room there is around the car to prevent dings and dents.


From the get-go, people recognized that there would be engineering challenges associated with putting together doors as complex as those found the X. As it turns out, Tesla did indeed encounter for than a few problems getting these smart doors to work properly.

According to a lawsuit filed by the automaker in Federal court this week, Tesla ran into numerous challenges including a planned hydraulic actuation system that overheated, leaked fluid and drooped. In fact, Tesla had to completely scrap the hydraulic system and design an electric one just four months prior to the roll out of the production cars.

In a press conference at the launch of the Model X, CEO Elon Musk admitted that the some of the SUV's tech features - such as the doors - proved to be an absolutely nightmare to put into production.

But Tesla isn't the first company to come face-to-face with a an unconventional door system. From the Lincoln Continental's "suicide doors" to the DeLorean's "gullwings," the automotive history books are bedecked with funky door designs.


The most common doors these days are the swingout and the sliding designs. With the exception of a few exotics, virtually every car in the world today use these two formats. So why not others? Well they're unconventional for a reason. The aesthetic beauty of designs such as the gullwing belie their practical shortcomings.

Upswing doors tend to have a higher propensity for leaking and a higher center gravity, which make the car less stable around corners. Furthermore, getting out of a car with gullwing doors if the vehicle rolls over on its roof is particularly tricky. Mercedes had to resort to using explosive bolts on the door hinges that trigger if the car rolls over.

Eccentricities aside, upswinging doors tend to be part some of the most exquisitely designed cars in the world.

Here's a collection of some of the more memorable door designs.