Come fly with me: Why gull wing doors are the best solution for car doors?


As many of you probably know by know my dream car is the DeLorean DMC-12. It is not because of its starring role in the film all of you know very well. It’s because of what it stands for, what its creator did to create it. Even though a lot of critics have annihilated them, targeting its “not-so-futuristic” features, the wheezy engine and the early-80s British reliability which needs no further explanation, all of them have overlooked one quite futuristic and useful feature that’s not been used on a lot of cars since. Nope, it’s not the stainless steel body. It’s the doors. Not just because it made Marty McFly look like an alien when he arrived in 1955, but because he could feel a little bit safer. Yes, gull wing doors are safe and more practical than ordinary doors. Let me explain why.

52141_10100885336570606_374757580578457342_o1) EASE OF ENTRY AND EXIT

It’s time to shut up all those gull wing door critics who say that gull wing doors have to have miles of room before the doors can be opened. RUBBISH! RUBBISH! RUBBISH! Clearly, these critics don’t know anything about either physics and geometry.

Let me show this video and finally put these matters about space to rest.

There! It’s been tested that the DeLorean needs 11 inches (28 cm) of room to open the doors. Try and par a car with normal doors next to it and open the doors. An average car door is 12-15 cm thick. If you’re as thin as a spaghetti, then you’d need about the same amount of room to slide yourself through the door like an origami swan through that narrow slit. In a gull wing door car you also open up a portion of the roof, which means not only you can get into the car in a narrow space, but also comfortably slide yourself into it.

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2) SAFETY

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The car above is a Mercedes 300SL. The very first production car in the world to use gull wing doors. The reason for that hides beneath the skin.

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As you can see in the picture above, there are some tubes on the door sills. That’s one of the reasons why door sills are so high in a 300SL. Those tubes are the chassis of the 300SL. In plain English, they keep the car together. They are so high because initially the 300SL was a racing car and in racing the high sills are there to improve car’s rigidity because the distance between the roof and the main chassis is reduced, making the car tighter and more stable.

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Bosses of Mercedes-Benz, after the big success of 300SL in Mille Miglia 1000 mile race across Italy in 1952-1953, they decided to use the chassis of the race car and to make it useable on the road. Nowadays it’s not a big deal but then it seemed unreal. Especially knowing that the chassis of the racing car could prove unusable for everyday driving, and fitting ordinary doors wouldn’t work. So they fitted gull wings (first used on the 300SL racing car) so its users could get in. And because the sill is so high up, in a side impact you would be better off in a gull wing 300SL than being in a normal door, lower sill coupe.

Some of you are going to ask “what if it rolls over?” As in past few decades car safety has been a priority for car makers. So it’s highly unlikely that cars of past 40 years have had safety overlooked. A DeLorean was safe when it was rolled over, because the driver could push out the windscreen. And for a very recent gull wing beast, Mercedes SLS, the doors featured explosive bolts. A lot of you who take Jeremy Clarkson seriously think that SLS doors are bombs. But have a look at this:

It’s hardly an explosion. As soon as bolts are loose, you just push the doors out and you’re free.

3) CHASSIS STIFFNESS

Mercedes-Benz-SLS_AMG_2011_1280x960_wallpaper_71I am not a physician, but I saw on British Channel 4’s “For the love of Cars” DeLorean episode they said that a gull wing car is more resistant to torsion (twisting) than an ordinary door car. It is not just in a DeLorean or Mercedes-Benz. Ford GT’s doors also cut into roof. Somehow the single bar in the roof made the car so strong it broke one of crash test machines where it attempted to slowly squash the Ford.

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PROBLEMS WITH GULL WING DOORS

There are a couple of problems of having gull wing doors. First one, of course, is that you cannot have a four door gull wing car. Even though a gull wing coupe is a very tough car there is a physical limitation on how much you can cut out of the roof. Even Tesla’s new Model X SUV has just one pair of gull wing doors. But you can’t complain because they do look nice anyway.

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Secondly you can’t have a sunroof. But you can have a transparent glass roof. As you can see above for the Model X. Finally, even though gull wings do not need a lot of room near them, they do need a room above them. It’s ok in an ordinary multi-storey car park, but in your own garage it could be tricky.

But don’t let these small impracticalities fool you. Demand your favorite car maker to make gull wing cars. Please!

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About Chinese automotive industry’s “poor imagination”


Hello, people! I have not given up. I took a 2 week break, because there was Easter (I thought nobody would read blogs on an Easter Sunday and my statistical data shows that I made the right decision) and I had a week full of exams.

Also, I spent ages fighting with (as one great Northern-Irish friend of mine calls them) “armchair protesters” (i.e. those who just sit behind the computer waiting for the slightest possible problem (without checking if their reason to protest is justified by facts) to protest to gain some sort of feeling of “achievement”) about this ridiculous Jeremy Clarkson’s accusation of being “racist”. I have two things to say about it (I apologize, but this matter needs attention): 1) this all “racist” debate was started by The Daily Mirror which has been known for an intensive hatred against Jeremy Clarkson for years. Their stupid revelation of a clip that was aired like 1.5 years ago (where were they then?!); 2) if Jezza did say a word, one racist word doesn’t make you a “racist”. Does one lie you said make you a “liar”? Or does one accidental collision with another car make you a “bad driver”? And does one punch at Piers Morgan’s face does make you a “boxer”? …I hope you see my point. I am not saying this because I like Clarkson. When he made those comments about public sector protesters I was a bit shocked and thought that was stupid of him to say that. Same is with his “one-eyed” joke about Gordon Brown. But I feel that people are pointing fingers at him because it is so easy to make him guilty. Before I get on with my article, I would like to make you remember and have a think: if he was racist, would he have invited to Top Gear will.I.Am, Usain Bolt or Lewis Hamilton (twice. And he gave him a surprise gift – a drive in Senna’s F1 car. They are great friends)? 

ANYWAY…LET’S GET ON WITH IT

 

I DIDN’T DO IT: Chinese copy-cats

Chinese automotive industry has flourished only recently. Back in the 90s they still had hundreds of millions of people riding bicycles all over the country and a car was a rarity in many cities of China (as it was in former USSR. Blame Communism). But then there was an explosion and China became such an attractive market for major automobile manufacturers. Now there seems to be a belief: “if you lose China, you lose the world”. And I see why. For example, BMW’s sales in China last year rose by 20% (http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/10/uk-bmw-china-idUKBREA090AI20140110). VW, meanwhile, sold over 3 million of its motors in China last year (http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/10/uk-bmw-china-idUKBREA090AI20140110) and these numbers for them and other manufacturers never seem to stop.

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Then suddenly, some boffins in the land of noodles and cheap electronics thought “hang on. If we have all this manufacturing power and might…why should we bring in these cars when we can make them themselves?” And so they did…unfortunately.

Some of them were under a license, of course. For example, FAW made a deal with Volkswagen which allowed them to make some old Audi 100s. While in Europe these “cigars” (as some call them) were made until 1991, the Chinese kept on going and only decided “this is enough” in 1999.

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Then there is the other end of scale. The dirty one. I’ve always tried to hold my emotions back with this. There have been a couple. For example, this BYD S8 Coupe looks very much like a Mercedes CLK. Ok…that’s an old car and, reliability wise, not a very good one.

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Then there’s a Smart-copy (not a smart choice to copy a Smart…if you’re following me). But the funny thing about this is that Daimler sued Shuanghuan for copying this mockery of a car…and they lost it. The judge said that it looks nothing like a Smart. Probably the judge forgot to take his glasses that day to the courtroom.

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This list goes on and on and on. I never seemed to be bothered because cars they copied were old and not that brilliant…but then they went too far. Way too far…with this. Guess what is it?

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Any normal civilized human being, including me, will say “This is Land Rover Evoque”. But a Chinese executive will say “noooo, it’s our proud creation Landwind E32”. OK, THAT’S IT! FIRST OF ALL: you could have put some effort calling it differently. Land Wind somehow resembles Land Rover. IT JUST DOES! EVEN THE BLOODY FONT ON THE BOOT IS THE SAME AS LAND ROVER’S. SECOND: being in business for 10 years and selling millions of cars you could have employed an imaginative designer. This is just too ridiculous. The side profile is just too similar to be claimed “an original design”. You could have done what KIA did: got a European designer to design your cars. NO. Probably your two designer’s names are “Xerox the photocopier” and “Panasonic the fax machine” because it looks like it’s a Land Rover Evoque which has been photocopied and then sent by fax to China, where an engineer looked at it and said “oh, lights are blurry. I’ll put some I can find at the local “Homebase” and nobody will notice.

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And lastly, if you do copy a car, put some decent rims on it. Where did you get yours from? Was the guy you bought them from named “Keith?” 

You had 10 years to develop a decent car. Soviets did a better job than you. Even Lada managed to make their own designed car. Though it took 14 years to get from a Fiat 124 (as Fiat gave Russians the whole assembly line which they installed and launched using ordinary Fiat workers) to a Lada Samara. It was underdeveloped, but it was their own design. USSR was worse off than you are – they were zoned out from foreign money, so their engineers had no chance than to wish for party members from Moscow to see a ray of light in their hair-brained ideas to receive a handful of money for it.

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These Fiat-based Ladas turned into Lada Samara (below):Image

So please, China. Build your own cars. You have a massive industry behind you, don’t copy our ideas. We will make ours and will stick to original ideas.

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