Corvette Vertical Door Mechanisms: What You Need to Know!

Pros and Cons of Installing Vertical or Lambo Door Hinges: Expert Insights and Design Issues for Your Corvette Customization Project

Scissor doors, famously known as “Lambo doors,” have long captivated car enthusiasts with their striking design and futuristic appeal. In this article, we will explore the history of scissor doors, their evolution, and the challenges associated with their installation. Whether you’re considering a scissor door conversion for your car or simply curious about these iconic features, we’ve got you covered.

Lambo-Scissor-Vertical Door Mechanisms on Corvettes
Lambo-Scissor-Vertical Door Mechanisms on Corvettes

Are you considering scissor, vertical, or Lambo door hinges for your Corvette? You will want to read Wayne Ellwood’s observations of things to consider before you start your project. His advice is, “You need to be very well informed and, hopefully, technically inclined.”

In this article, we will cover:

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So read on to learn about:

  • Verticle Doors
  • Scissor Doors or “Lambo Doors” open upwards (Lamborghini doors)
  • Butterfly doors open outwards and upwards.
  • Gull wing doors open outwards and upwards.

The Birth of Scissor Doors

The very first car to introduce scissor doors was the Alfa Romeo Carabo concept car in 1968. It was the brainchild of Bertone’s designer, Marcello Gandini. Gandini wanted a unique design, and he was concerned about the Carabo’s terrible rear visibility. To solve this, he came up with the idea of scissor doors. These doors allowed the driver to lift them and lean out of the hatch to see behind the car when reversing.

The first production car to feature these distinctive doors was the Lamborghini Countach, also designed by Gandini. The Countach had a wide chassis, similar to the Carabo, which made regular doors impractical. So, the scissor door design became a necessity for this sports car. Lamborghini’s use of these exotic doors in several of its cars led to them being commonly associated with the term “scissor doors,” often colloquially referred to as “Lambo doors.”

Today, there are many aftermarket companies that specialize in creating scissor door conversion kits for regular production cars that originally come with conventional doors. These conversion kits, also known as “Lambo-door” kits, typically include custom-designed door hinges and gas-filled shocks that are specific to the car model. Installation of such kits usually involves bolting or welding them onto the vehicle, along with some modifications to the front bumpers and door panels. It’s important to note that the original door panels are not replaced, so when the doors are closed, the vehicle maintains a standard appearance from the outside.

Getting Cooler Over Time

Scissor doors have changed and improved over the years. They still open upwards, but now they work better and are safer. Modern ones use fancy hydraulics and smart electronics to make them easier to use.

Scissor Doors on Custom Corvettes

Custom car fans are always looking for new ways to make their cars unique. Scissor doors are no exception. People who love Corvettes and car customization have added these cool doors to their rides.

Why Scissor Doors Are Great for Corvettes

  1. They Look Awesome: Scissor doors make Corvettes look like something from the future. They’re sleek and stylish, and they catch everyone’s eye.
  2. Easier to Get In and Out: Even though Corvettes are already easy to get in and out of, scissor doors make it even better. They create more space and look cool at the same time.
  3. Grab Attention: Corvettes with scissor doors are like celebrities on the road. They turn heads and get lots of attention wherever they go.
  4. Boost Resale Value: Some people are willing to pay more for a Corvette with scissor doors, especially if they’re collectors or fans of unique cars.

Things to Think About

Adding scissor doors to a Corvette is awesome, but there are a few things to remember:

  1. Cost: It can be expensive to add scissor doors to your Corvette. You’ll need to buy the doors, pay for installation, and maybe change some of the car’s electrical stuff.
  2. Warranty: Be careful because some car mods can cancel your warranty, so check that before you go ahead.
  3. Everyday Use: Think about where you drive your Corvette daily. Scissor doors might not be practical for every situation.

From the original Lamborghini Countach to today’s customized Corvettes, scissor doors have come a long way and still make cars look super cool. They don’t just look good; they make it easier to hop in and out of your Corvette. If you’re a Corvette fan looking to stand out and have an unforgettable ride, scissor doors could be your ticket to turning heads and having a blast on the road. Read on to learn more.

Dream Car Vertical Door Kits

Here you can see some of the various types of conversion doors for your Corvette.
Here, you can see some of the various types of conversion doors for your Corvette.

I’ve seen quite a few (relatively speaking) queries on social media about scissors, vertical, or Lambo door hinges. I’m no technical expert, so my thoughts on the matter are simply that….thoughts. I first talked with one contributor to VETTE VUES, who built his own winged wonder. Vette Vues covered Mark Dedecker’s “Full Tilt” 1971 Corvette in Vol 50, No: 1, August 2021. Mark built his tilted front end, vertical doors (modified), and rear hatch. Mark wasted no time giving his opinions on why many of these kits are not well-engineered. It all seems to come down to the strength of the basic hinge system and the different degrees of complexity of the installation process.

MARK DEDECKER’S “FULL TILT” C3 1971 CORVETTE

Mark Dedecker’s Verticle Door 1971 Corvette interior driver side.
Mark Dedecker’s Verticle Door 1971 Corvette interior driver side.
Mark Dedecker’s C3 Verticle Door 1971 Corvette at Corvettes at Carlisle 2017.
Mark Dedecker’s C3 Verticle Door 1971 Corvette at Corvettes at Carlisle 2017.
Side shot of Mark Dedecker’s Verticle Door 1971 Corvette at Corvettes at Carlisle 2017.
Side shot of Mark Dedecker’s Verticle Door 1971 Corvette at Corvettes at Carlisle 2017.
Rear shot of Mark Dedecker’s Verticle Door 1971 Corvette at Corvettes at Carlisle 2017.
Rear shot of Mark Dedecker’s Verticle Door 1971 Corvette at Corvettes at Carlisle 2017.
Mark Dedecker’s Lambo Doors on his 1971 Corvette.
Mark Dedecker’s Lambo Doors on his 1971 Corvette.

There are several issues with the overall design. Most relate to the limited amount of space and the idea that they should be bolt-on. If welding to the A-pillar were more practical, you could get greater strength. But this would require removing the front fenders and, thus, repainting. Also, different products show variations in how (and how many) hydraulic struts are used to assist in the lift process work. And then several customers don’t seem to care for the process by which the door must first open to about 30 degrees before lifting….but that’s not really the manufacturer’s fault.

STEVE FRISBIE’S C6 GULL-WING DOOR 2011 CHEVROLET CORVETTE

Steve Frisbie's C6 Gull-Wing Door 2011 Corvette
Steve Frisbie’s C6 Gull-Wing Door 2011 Corvette
Steve Frisbie's Gull-Wing Door 2011 Corvette
Steve Frisbie’s Gull-Wing Door 2011 Corvette
Steve Frisbie's Gull-Wing Door 2011 Corvette
Steve Frisbie’s Gull-Wing Door 2011 Corvette

My other big thought on the matter came from seeing Steve Frisbie’s (Steve’s Auto Restorations in Portland, OR) at SEMA’s 2020 electronic event.  VETTE VUES covered that event (see Vol 49, No: 9, April 2020), including Steve’s gull-wing doors on a 2011 C6 coupe. The gull-wing style is an entirely different approach and proved to be much more complex…. but definitely a historical style. And it seemed to be very strong, probably adding to the Corvette’s structure.

Here, Steve’s concept was to create a true “gull-wing” door Corvette, not merely install the more common “Lambo” door kit.  The project started with a low-mileage 2011 Grand Sport. The first step was fabricating the top or a “spine” for the hinge mechanism to attach.  From there, the internal door structures, hinges, and actuating mechanisms were fabricated and fit the original doors.  The windshield was shaved slightly, and the door jambs were modified to accept dual door latches rather than just one.  New door jamb panels were fabricated, and interior trim panels were modified to fit.  

Some trimming and re-fitting of the A-pillar and door panels were required, but very little adjustment was required for the interior panels. This allowed a stock look and feel.  Obviously, little could be retained of the headliner.  Instead, a set of gutted-out junkyard doors was used for all the fab work.  Once completed, the inner structure was transferred directly into the original doors. The doors have not even been repainted. The fabricated top panels and the door jamb panels were the only painting required.  It was important to do it this way in an effort to maintain the original shape and profile of the doors and door opening. The goal was to retain a fairly stock appearance once the doors were closed.

As hinted by Steve’s experience, the project was started as a one-off item. It was obviously well-thought-out but equally obviously a very big job. The folks at Steve’s Auto Restorations have not made up their minds about future marketing. I’ll keep my eyes on this one.

At the end of all this chatter, my conclusion was that I still needed to know more. But, yes, it is apparent that if you want to go ahead with this kind of customization, you need to be very well-informed and, hopefully, technically inclined.

But the really important conclusion is that a potential customer needs to do a lot more research. If you want to get started, let me give you the lay of the land. There are maybe four primary manufacturing companies. And there are many more installation companies. These are often confused, as the installation companies tend to imply certain product excellence for whatever kit they are promoting…but, really, they are all dealing from the same deck.

Manufacturers of Veriticla, Scissors, ZLR, LSD Vertical Doors

Most manufacturers are smaller agile companies that can produce a wide range of models for different cars using computer-based systems. The main manufacturing companies are:

  • Vertical Doors in Lake Elsinore (CA)
  • Scissor Doors Inc in Hanwell (NB) (Canada)
  • ZLR Doors (mostly Corvettes) and heavily marketed through CARiD.com
  • LSD Vertical Doors (Germany)

Installers

The installers that popped up most frequently in my quick search of the internet and on Corvette Forum discussion boards are:

  • JC Whitney (installs mostly Vertical Doors and LSD Doors)
  • GT Factory (Some customer problems reported. No longer authorized by Vertical Doors). Still installs other brands.
  • Dream Car Vertical Doors in Savannah (GA)
  • Stillen Co. installs mostly the LSD product for European customers
  • Eikon Vertical Doors in Mesa (AZ)
  • CARiD.com in Cranbury, NJ, is a major merchandiser.

In conclusion, it seems that some projects fail on the equipment chosen, but many more projects fall apart at the installation shop.

About the Author: Wayne Ellwood is an automotive journalist and a regular contributor to Vette Vues Magazine.

Here is a video you might find interesting titled EVERYTHING You Need To Know About Vertical Doors After 5 Years! | Pros and Cons.

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