A gull-wing door, also known as a falcon-wing door or an up-door, is an automotive industry term describing car doors that are hinged at the roof rather than the side, as pioneered by the 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300SL race car (W194) and its road-legal version (W198) introduced in 1954.
Opening upwards, the doors evoke the image of a seagull's wings. In French they are portes papillon (butterfly doors). The papillon door was designed by Jean Bugatti for the 1939 Type 64,14 years before Mercedes-Benz produced its similar, famous 300SL gullwing door. The papillon door is a precursor to the gullwing door, and is slightly different in its architecture, but is often overlooked when discussing gull-wing design. Conventional car doors are typically hinged at the front-facing edge of the door, with the door swinging outward horizontally.
Apart from the Mercedes-Benz 300SL of the mid-1950s and the experimental Mercedes-Benz C111 of the early 1970s, the best-known examples of road-cars with gull-wing doors are the Bricklin SV-1 from the 1970s, the DMC DeLorean from the 1980s, and the Tesla Model X of the 2010s. Gull-wing doors have also been used in aircraft designs, such as the four-seat single-engine Socata TB series built in France.
The design is a very practical one in a tight urban parking space. When properly designed and counterbalanced, they require little side-clearance to open (about 27.5 cm, or 11" in the DeLorean and allow much better entrance/egress than conventional doors. The most obvious downside to having gull-wing doors is that, were the car to roll over and come to rest on its roof, exit by the doors would be impossible, requiring a large windscreen opening to escape. The Mercedes SLS solved this problem by fitting explosive bolts in the hinges, that would blow up if the car rolled over.
The Volvo YCC, a concept car designed by and for women, had gull-wing doors as part of its design. Gull-wing doors to make it easier to lift a bag to store it behind the driver's seat, increase visibility over the driver's shoulder, and make it easier to get in and out of the car.
The Tesla Model X, first introduced in 2015, has double hinged gull-wing doors, called falcon-wing doors by Tesla. The Model X has several design considerations to make the doors more practical. Being double hinged allows them to open with less clearance (horizontal and vertical) than would otherwise be required. The vehicle also has sensors to determine ceiling height and the presence of potential obstacles and to determine how the hinges will operate to open the doors and avoid obstacles, if possible.
Gull-wing doors have a somewhat questionable reputation because of early examples like the Mercedes and the Bricklin. [ who? ]The 300 SL needed the door design, as its tubular frame race car chassis design had a very high door sill, which in combination with a low roof would make a standard door opening very low and small. The Mercedes engineers solved the problem by also opening a part of the roof. The Bricklin was a more conventionally sized door but the actuation system was problematic in day-to-day use and led to unreliable operation until an aftermarket air-door upgrade was installed in all Bricklins. In addition, there was some concern that in making the doors as light as possible they wouldn't provide adequate protection in side-impact accidents. There was, however, no indication that this concern was justified.
The DeLorean solved these problems by using a patented cryogenically-set stainless steel torsion bar spring (manufactured by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation) to partially counterbalance a full-sized door, and then added a gas-pressurized (pneumatic) strut similar to those found in hatchback cars. The combination of the torsion spring and strut provided the correct torque variation necessary to offset the variable torque of the door as it opened through a rotational angle of about 80 degrees. The torsion bar is most important in the first foot of movement from the bottom, where the geometry of the strut is pointed at the hinge and therefore at a mechanical disadvantage. As the spring relaxes through the door's rotation open, the strut gains a better moment arm and gradually takes over the effort. A correctly balanced door opens fully on its own by simply activating the door latch from the interior, exterior, or from an aftermarket wireless release.
Other disadvantages of the system were not so easy to address. For example, the gull-wing design makes creating a convertible version of the car harder, as the hinges would be removed with the roof, and standard doors would be needed for the convertible. Mercedes did so when replacing the gullwing coupe altogether with the 300SL roadster in 1958. It was never a concern for DeLorean since no convertible version was ever planned.
It also makes sealing the car against water leaks and snow intrusion more difficult because of the shape and movement path of the door itself.
The following is a (partial) list of production and kit automobiles with gull-wing doors:
Gullwing doors are common in kit cars and many were made that are not included on this list. They were almost always one of the most mechanically problematic parts of these vehicles.[ citation needed ]
A convertible, cabriolet or spyder/spider is a passenger car that can be driven with or without a roof in place. The methods of retracting and storing the roof vary between models. A convertible allows an open-air driving experience, with the ability to provide a roof when required. Potential drawbacks of convertibles are reduced structural rigidity and cargo space.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is a two-seat sports car that was produced by Mercedes-Benz as a gullwinged coupe (1954–1957) and roadster (1957–1963). It was based on the company's 1952 racer, the W194, with mechanical direct fuel-injection which boosted power almost 50% on its 3-litre overhead camshaft straight-6 engine. Capable of reaching a top speed of up to 263 km/h (163 mph), it was both a sports car racing champion and the fastest production car of its time.
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is a grand tourer sports car manufactured by Mercedes since 1954. The designation SL derives from the German Super-Leicht,. The original idea was suggested by American importer Max Hoffman, who perceived a market for a toned-down Gran Prix car tailored to affluent performance enthusiasts in the booming post-war American market, which remains the primary market for the vehicles.
Butterfly doors are a type of car door sometimes seen on high-performance cars. They are similar to scissor doors.
The Mercedes-Benz R129 SL is a roadster which was produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1989 until 2001. The R129 replaced the R107 in 1989 and was in its turn replaced by the R230 SL-Class in 2002 for the 2003 model year.
The second generation Mercedes-Benz SLK, internally designated model R171, is a two-passenger, front-engine, rear-drive, retractable hardtop roadster, unveiled at the 74th Geneva International Motor Show — and manufactured and marketed for model years 2004–2010. Currently in its third generation and manufactured at Mercedes' Bremen plant, the SLK nameplate designates Sportlich (sporty), Leicht (light), and Kurz (compact).
Gull-wing, gull wing or gullwing may refer to:
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W196S) was a 2-seat sports racer that took part in the World Sportscar Championship before a catastrophic crash and fire at Le Mans ended its domination prematurely.
The Mercedes-Benz W189 model 300 was a four-door luxury tourer produced by Mercedes-Benz between 1957 and 1962. It was the company's flagship model at the time, equivalent to the modern S-Class and Maybach.
The Mercedes-Benz W188 was a two-door luxury sports tourer produced by Mercedes-Benz between 1951 and 1958. The company's most expensive and exclusive automobiles, the elegant, hand-built 300 S (1951-1954) and its successor 300 Sc (1955-1958) were the pinnacle of the Mercedes line of their era.
The Mercedes-Benz W112 is a luxury automobile produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1961 to 1967. Marketed as the 300SE, it was available as a coupé, convertible, sedan, and stretched sedan (Lang), all generally similar in appearance to the corresponding Mercedes-Benz W111.
The Mercedes-Benz W186 model 300 was a four-door luxury tourer produced by Mercedes-Benz between 1951 and 1957. The company's largest and most prestigious automobile, it was the S 600 of its day, elegant, powerful, exclusive, and expensive. Three versions were produced in succession, known informally as the 300a, 300b, and 300c. An enlarged "300d" variant built on the W189 chassis succeeded it in late 1957.
The Dubai International Motor Show is a biennial auto show held in the Emirate of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Due to the high interest of expensive cars in Dubai, it attracts many major car manufactures, tuning companies and other related companies, including major super car manufacturers.
The Mercedes-Benz W194 is the Mercedes-Benz entry for the 1952 Sportscar racing season, its first after World War II.
The Mercedes-Benz C112 was an experimental mid-engine concept car built in 1991 by German automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz as a test bed, similar to the later versions of the C111. Despite using the same chassis code, it was not related to the W112 series of limousines and coupes of the 1960s. The C112 was intended to be the road-legal counterpart of the Sauber-built C11 Group C prototype race car developed for the 1990 World Sports-Prototype Championship.
Friedrich Geiger was a German automobile designer whose most notable cars, the pre-World War II Mercedes-Benz 540K and post-war Mercedes-Benz 300SL, are among the most highly regarded in automotive history.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a front mid-engine, 2-seater, limited production grand tourer developed by the Mercedes-AMG division of German automotive manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, with the assistance of David Coulthard. The car, which is the successor to the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and was described by Mercedes-Benz as a spiritual successor to the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, mainly because it was inspired by the latter. SLS stands for "Super Leicht Sport".
Styling Garage was a coachbuilder and tuner near Hamburg, Germany, which operated from 1979 until 1986. SGS made extravagant and expensive designs, mainly based on the Mercedes-Benz W126 (S-class). More than half of their buyers came from the Arab world, with the remainder consisting mostly of American celebrities, Japanese businessmen, and African leaders.
The Gull Wing Group International is a 501(c)(7) Nonprofit organization of 1954 to 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL enthusiasts worldwide officially formed in August 1961 for the purpose of maintenance, preservation, restoration and to provide the opportunity for its members to better become acquainted with the mechanics and handling of the 300SL.