Inspired by horse-drawn carriages, suicide doors have been around since the dawn of the automobile. Before the introduction of seatbelts, opening a rear-hinged door at speed could have been “suicidal” – hence the nickname “suicide doors.” Also known as “clamshell” or “coach” doors, these rear-hinged doors have always been unique, even more so in the past few decades. Thankfully, modern suicide door designs have removed the danger factor by remaining locked when the car is in motion.
With no B-pillar in some of these vehicles, suicide doors allow easier access to a car’s rear seats. The wide side opening also makes dealing with cargo, such as shopping bags, more convenient. However, some designs won’t allow the back doors to open until the front doors are unlatched, which can be inconvenient for getting rear passengers in and out of vehicles.
Leaving out a wide variety of extended-cab pickup trucks with rear-hinged doors, here are 10 new and used cars and SUVs you can buy with suicide doors.
BMW’s i3 certainly lives up to its “i” for “innovation” badge. Taking up about the same amount of space in your garage as a typical small hatchback, the four-passenger i3 veers hard from the norm with rear-wheel drive, a plastic-panel-wrapped carbon fibre and aluminum structure, and the choice of all-electric or gas-electric power. Beyond its two-tone exterior, the small EV’s highlight may be its creatively designed interior, accessed by rear-hinged doors on either side.
2024 Faraday Future FF 91
First seen as a concept in 2017, production versions of Faraday Future’s FF 91 battery-electric luxury SUV are finally being delivered to customers this year. Originally designed by Richard Kim, who previously penned the BMW i3, the FF 91 also employs suicide doors. Unlike the small BMW, the FF 91’s doors can be opened remotely.
When it arrived two decades ago, the Honda Element was like no other compact SUV. Its space-efficient box shape was designed to carry large loads, easily accessed by its suicide doors (which also made the Element a favourite among dog owners). Appropriate for its utilitarian personality, the Honda SUV wore scratch-resistant body panels, an interior fitted with washable materials, and side-folding rear seats–perfect for hauling mountain bikes, camping gear, surfboards, and four-legged friends.
To honour the 80th anniversary of the original 1939 Lincoln Continental, for 2019 and 2020, Lincoln offered a limited-production Coach Door Edition of its 10th-generation Continental luxury sedan that debuted in 2017. The first Lincoln since the 1969 Continental to feature rear-hinged “coach” doors, only 80 copies were produced for 2019 and 150 for 2020, all sold exclusively in the United States.
Inspired by the RX-8, Mazda's first mass-produced battery-electric vehicle comes with similar suicide doors exhibiting the graceful and high-end styling that Mazda is renowned for. The MX-30’s self-branded “Freestyle” doors allow access to its stylish cabin that uses natural and sustainable materials such as cork and breathable fabric upholstery made from recycled plastic bottles.
Mazda’s Rotary-engine RX-8 remains among the best handling and imaginative coupes you can buy. A prominent feature of the RX-8 is its rear-hinged doors. And you really can fit four full-size adults in this thing. With occupants in place upfront, those allocated to the rear can quickly jump in without requiring front-seat sliding. The rear seats are as aggressively bolstered and roomy as the front ones.
The first-generation Clubman was introduced for 2008 as a station wagon variant of the subcompact Mini hatchback. The Clubman adds a longer wheelbase, more legroom for its two rear passengers, and a rear-hinged half-door on the passenger's side for less flexible people to get in and out of its back seats. Besides its lone suicide door, the Clubman offered a unique way to access its rear cargo area with vertical “barn” doors.
2003 to Present Rolls-Royce
In 2003, BMW’s Rolls-Royce reintroduced rear-hinged doors with the debut of its super-luxury Phantom sedan. Since then, such doors have been a staple of each Rolls-Royce model. Whether a modern Rolls comes with four doors (as per the Phantom, smaller Ghost sedan, or Cullinan SUV) or two doors (like the Phantom and Wraith coupes, Dawn convertible, or Rolls-Royce's first electric vehicle, the Spectre), rear-hinged doors come standard.
2003 to 2007 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe
General Motors introduced its all-new Saturn brand t in 1990 as a "different kind of car company." A great example of Saturn’s unique approach is the short-lived Ion Quad Coupe. As its name implies, the compact car came with suicide doors, which made it stand out from the more mundane Chevrolet Cobalt the Ion shared a platform with. Initially, Saturn sales soared. But with GM facing bankruptcy, the Saturn brand was cancelled in 2009.
When it ventured into the retro-mobile genre with its FJ Cruiser, Toyota decided to dig into its SUV past. Based on the same Toyota midsize truck platform that contemporary versions of the Tacoma pickup, 4Runner, and Lexus GX SUVs used, many of the FJ Cruiser’s design features (white-painted roof, short wheelbase, grille and headlight design, and near-flat windshield) are stolen directly from the FJ40 Land Cruisers of the 1960s. What is unique is the FJ’s sets of rear-hinged doors.