x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Top 5: Make a memorable entrance through these unusual car doors

Some car manufacturers have gone to crazy lengths over the years, just to make sure getting in and out is less of a chore and more of an event.

The only access to the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera was through its rear door.
The only access to the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera was through its rear door.

1. Mercedes-Benz 300SL

In 1955, most cars looked the same as they did pre-war. So Mercedes' SL300 was a massive shock to the establishment. For not only was it the world's fastest production car with a top speed of 260kph, it featured "gull-wing" doors that opened upward, hinged as they were, at the car's roof rather than its A-pillars. The SL (an acronym of "Sport Light") went on to become an indisputed icon and an inspiration, not only for the latest Merc supercar, the SLS AMG, but also the ill-fated DeLorean and countless aftermarket tuners.

2. Ostentatienne Opera by Mohs

Wisconsin-based Bruce Mohs was an eccentric inventor in the 1960s and 70s, and will be most remembered for his bonkers Ostentatienne Opera Sedan. He designed it to incorporate many "safety" features, which were anything but, such as the steel girders that ran down each side of the car. It was for this reason that access was limited to a rear door that swung upwards. Steps folded down to the rear bumper area and the four individual seats were separated by a centre aisle, just like on a plane. Mad.

3. Lamborghini Countach LP400

By the mid-1980s, the purity of the original, Gandini-penned Countach had been lost to huge wings and wheelarch extensions and was responsible for selling millions of posters that adorned the bedroom walls of teenage boys around the world. But it still had the incredible, upward-swinging "scissor doors" of the LP400 model that amazed the world in 1974. The design cue has been carried over to every flagship V12 Lambo since (including the Aventador), while the V10 Gallardo has to make do with conventional items.

4. Merc-McLaren SLR Roadster

The standard SLR McMerc was a beast, with a hand-built supercharged V8, front-mid mounted engine that generated 617hp and 780Nm of twist. Its top speed was 334kph but one American car magazine managed to better that by another 5kph. Visually it struck a chord, with its vast bonnet and rear-biased cabin, although its trump card was its scissor doors that opened both vertically and horizontally. The Roadster featured them, too, and managed to appear even more dramatic.

5. General Lee

Bo and Luke Duke's unforgettable Dodge Charger wasn't just known for its distinctive musical "Dixie" horn and its increasingly ridiculous stunts and jumps around Hazzard County. It was also famous for having its doors welded shut, which made for awkward (and often comedic) access and egress for the two cousins when escaping the clutches of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane or Boss Hogg. Why were the doors welded shut? According to the cousins Duke, that's what racing cars have done to them. So now you know.