Hooniverse Asks- Should More Cars Have Sliding Doors?

Earlier this week over on Jalopnik, Jason dug up a cool VW Golf prototype from 1973 that had been converted by a supplier to feature a sliding driver’s door. The forward-sliding panel on that VW probably wasn’t all that practical, seeing as it appeared to limit the steering range when opened. That’s less of an issue with more traditional sliding doors, and those have become the Minivan’s shining – and for some only redeeming – features. Considering how handy they are on people movers, shouldn’t they be used on other styles of car and truck too?
They have as you no doubt know. Peugeot tried them on its 1009 supermini, and made them power-operated too. Fancy! But aside from that, and the occasional show car such as Opel’s ’70s GT2, sliding doors outside of vans and commercial vehicles simply haven’t caught one. I for one see that as a tragedy, and think that if we had more cars with sliders then we could make real use of all those compact parking spots that make up most of the country’s modern parking lots and forever banish the door latch crotch shimmy from our lives. Are you with me? What do you think, do we need more sliding doors on our cars?
Image: HonestJohn.CO.UK

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  1. Jofes01 Avatar

    I bring you Tjorven
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/70/Tjorven1.JPG/800px-Tjorven1.JPG&quot; width="600">
    [photo: Spantax]

  2. Elliott Avatar

    For all their seeming practicality, I doubt that they could/would meet all of the governmental regulations.. (e.g. side impact, rollover, etc. etc). 🙂

    1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
      PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

      That's all a matter of design. It depends on how big the opening is, how heavy you can make the door and how big the window has to be.
      You can make any door strong with crossbeams and robust anchors in the door-frame, but you may have a heavy door or a smaller window to accommodate the design.

  3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    No. I love them for my kids in parking lots because I'm not bolting around the car to keep them from banging their door into another car, but here's an anecdote for why there shouldn't be more of them.
    My parents owned a 1995 Ford Aerostar. It was a brilliant, brilliant van for the needs of a three teenager household. It was THE model to get, captain seats, 4.0L with the Class IV tow package, E-AWD and the Extended body. Annually it drove us halfway across the country at least 5 times.
    The sliding door was fine, heavy, but fine. It worked like any truck-based vehicle should.
    Then the weather stripping froze to the door while we were in Sault Ste Marie in December. It was pulled form its mount and from then on, randomly would come off when you opened the door, even after gluing it back in place. Minor inconvenience.
    Then my 80 year-old grandfather used the B-pillar to assist himself into the front-passenger seat while my brother went to shut the door. Big ouch. Sure the newer electronic doors have sensors, but for that location, it still isn't comfortable to wait for them to detect that they are crushing a hand.
    But the final blow was when a friend of mine went to shut the door hard, after shutting it too softly, and had the door wedge partly open and off its track.
    The Ford Aerostar service manual for how to fix it had a step that included a Sawzall. Enough said.
    So though they are remarkably convenient for access to a large space, I find in their use the compromises far outweigh the disadvantages of a conventional door. In fact I will go so far as to say, the conveniences of the sliding door are specific to people under the age of 7 and their handlers.
    I have sliding doors right now and love having them. But when you have three boys under the age of 7, well they're the reason I love them (both.)

    1. skitter Avatar

      The newer sliding doors have much thicker, cushier seals, so when skitter's hand gets smashed between the b-pillar and the (actually, it was the driver's door), it is merely sore for the rest of the day, not shattered.

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        Yeah, I've done it in my T&C and while I wouldn't call it comfy, it wasn't nearly as bad as the old Aerostar. It is an issue that is unique to having a sliding door using the B-pillar, though, I have never put my hand on a b-pillar with a traditional door opening.
        This is also an issue for Clamshell doors too, as the joint on the c-pillar can be a problem for little hands.

  4. windbüchse Avatar

    First one that came to mind: Kaiser Darrin – Don't know the practicality, but it was cool….
    <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EBANgd6VVT8/UVL-nTcMjVI/AAAAAAAAC2s/NVoZ8ksljOg/s1600/1955-Kaiser-Darrin-3.jpg&quot; width="600">

  5. Vavon Avatar

    That car was the Peugeot 1007, not the Peugeot 1009… 😉 <img src="http://fortisline.fr/uploads/images/1007.jpg"&gt;

  6. Henk Avatar

    The Peugeot is a 1007, not 1009. Produced until 2009, it was a great and very comfortable little car, and not just for city use: with the larger of the two engines available, the 110 hp 1.6 16V, it did surprisingly well on highways too.
    The sliding doors were a great idea but there were some practical drawbacks. Here are some of them, as reported by 1007 drivers:
    – because the doors slid open right along the side of the car, there was no room to put proper armrests at the inside of the doors. These were sorely missed.
    – several users found out that in a automatic car wash, the door opening mechanism could be accidentally activated… so the advice was to always lock the doors before entering a car wash.
    – when for some reason the car's battery level was low, the car would go into "eco" mode in which the electric door opening mechanism was disabled, and the doors then had to be opened/closed by hand in a rather cumbersome manner.
    – several users complained that even while driving on ordinary roads, the sliding doors would often make rattling noises.
    – fill it up quickly? Unfortunately the driver's door would slide open right over the filler cap (which was at the left side) , so to get to that, you always needed to close the door again first…
    – because of the relative slowness of the electric door sliding mechanism, getting in (or out) in heavy rain almost inevitably meant you would be left with a wet chair.
    IOW, a great idea, but executed in a way that left some practical flaws.

  7. Devin Avatar

    Which direction should they slide?
    [youtube uLGMQ6WG9Kc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLGMQ6WG9Kc youtube]

      1. Slow_Joe_Crow Avatar

        Naturally you would the one to post a Mohs., so I upvoted

  8. david42 Avatar

    Yes! Sliding doors are wonderful. Just imagine: if all cars had them, it would be the end of parking-lot door dings. Parking spaces could be narrower. And the entire open area of the car could be used for entry, not just the wide part at the back of the door.

  9. Mister Serling Avatar
    Mister Serling

    Just came back from London and I saw three Peugeot 1007s. Interesting little cars. I say sliding rear doors are big reason I like the Mazda 5.

  10. Batshitbox Avatar

    How do you close them? It's like when the toilet paper roll is mounted to the wall behind the toilet! Why do they do that?!?
    Think about it, for a front door, you slide it back, you get in, and then you have to reach all the way around yourself, past even your shoulder belt, and haul this awkward thing all the way forward past your dashboard. No thanks. If you think a little electric motor system like they have on minivans is going to be the solution, I'm here to tell you that is an unacceptable failure point. Nobody wants to be fleeing an attacker (it happens) and having to wait for the little mouse-fart motor to close the door while an electronic bell goes ding!-ding!-ding!
    How to get in to the back seat? Ain't all that door hardware going to get in the way? Looks awkward on that Peugie in the photo. No thanks.
    You know what I want? Gull Wing Doors on the rear of my Crew Cab. Like, hinged in the middle. Booyakka!

  11. mr smee Avatar
    mr smee

    Lambo-doors on everything! Case closed!

  12. Slow_Joe_Crow Avatar

    VW Fridolin?
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Vw_fridolin.jpg&quot; width="600">

  13. Slow_Joe_Crow Avatar

    Also the OSI Daf City car because I had the Corgi model
    <img src="http://img.favcars.com/osi/concepts/pictures_osi_concepts_1966_1.jpg&quot; width="600">

  14. ratpatrol66 Avatar

    Yes! Have you ever tried to get out of a late 90s Trans Am in a tite parking spot? AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!!!