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:
- Verticle Doors
- Scissor Doors or “Lambo Doors” open upwards (Lamborghini doors)
- Butterfly doors open outwards and upwards
- Gull wing doors open outwards and upwards
Wikipedia - The first vehicle to feature scissor doors was the 1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo concept car, designed by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini. The door style was dictated by Gandini’s desire for an innovative design and by his concern over the car’s extremely poor rear visibility. In order to reverse the car, the driver would be able to lift the door and lean his upper body out of the hatch in order to see behind the car. The first production car to feature the doors was a Lamborghini, Gandini’s Countach; the sports car’s wide chassis created similar problems to those found on the Carabo, calling for the unusual door configuration. Having used the exotic door style for several of its cars, the Italian manufacturer has become synonymous with the implementation of scissor doors, which are sometimes colloquially referred to as “Lambo doors.” Today many aftermarket companies are specialized in the production of scissor door conversion kits for regular production cars that originally come with regular doors. A common scissor door conversion kit (also known as a “Lambo-door” kit) includes model-specific redesigned door hinges and gas-filled shocks. Such kits are usually bolt-on or weld-on and require some modifications to front bumpers and door panels. Original door panels are not replaced, so a vehicle looks standard from the outside when the doors are closed.
I’ve seen quite a few (relatively speaking) queries on social media about scissor, 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 tilt 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” 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 GULL-WING DOOR 2011 CHEVROLET CORVETTE
My other big thought on the matter came from seeing Steve Frisbie’s (Steve’s Auto Restorations in Portland, OR) on 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 the 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.
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)
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.
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