Our Honourable Mentions
1939 Bugatti Type 64
Engine: 4.4 Litre Straight-Eight
Country of Origin: France
Mercedes-Benz are often regarded as pioneering the gullwing door on the 1954 300SL. However, although they may have been the first to sell a car with gullwing doors, Bugatti produced the prototype Type 64 Gullwing 15 years earlier in the Atlantic body-style of the Type 57. Bugatti had originally set out to build three cars but only one unfinished body was ever produced, meaning that the Type 64 must settle for being both a forerunner and runner-up.
1970 Porsche Tapiro
Engine: 2.4 Litre Flat-Six, 220 hp
Country of Origin: Germany
The Porsche Tapiro is a 1970 concept car by Porsche, designed by Giugiaro and unvailed at the 1970 Turin Motor Show. It had a traditional 1970s wedge design, and was somewhat based on the De Tomaso Mangusta. The chassis is based on the Porsche 914/6, and it features gullwing-style doors front & rear. Contrary to popular belief, the car was NOT sold to a Spanish industrialist in 1972 – Ownership of the car was in fact retained by its creator and the car subsequently made its US debut at the 5th Annual Los Angeles Imported Automobile and Sports Car Show in 1971.
The Tapiro was not sold into private hands until 1972 when it was purchased by Waldo de los Ríos. The industrialist used it as his daily driver for a while until a group of labour activists engaged in the time-honoured European tradition of anarchistic demolition and planted a firebomb under the Tapiro. The story becomes quite unclear and a multitude of unofficial accounts (which make for interesting reading) muddy the water for decades after the attack. The burnt shell was eventually repurchased by Italdesign and put on display in its Giugiaro Museum.
1990 Toyota Sera
Engine: 1.5 Litre 5E-FHE 4-Cylinder, 110 hp
Country of Origin: Japan
The Toyota Sera was a Starlet-based Japanese market 2+2 coupe produced from March 1990 to December 1995. The Sera made use of semi-gullwing design doors, also known as dihedral or butterfly doors, the design choice was presumably influenced by the gullwing’s main design flaw – When the door was opened in rainy conditions it may drip water on the exiting occupants (BMW’s hybrid i8 and McLaren’s current flagship 570S also make use of a semi-gullwing design for this very reason). Aircon was standard, most were automatic, and a few ‘Super Live Sound’ versions had a ten speaker sound system. Total production stands at around 16,000 units over the 5 year period.
The Sera had a reliable, 1496cc twin cam 16 valve engine developing 110 hp @ 6,400rpm. Performance was sufficient rather than sporting, and thus a popular engine conversion was the 1331cc 4E-FTE turbo engine from the EP92 Starlet GT. The Starlet’s engine produced 135 hp @ 6,400 rpm and had a much higher tuning potential than the original 5E-FHE.
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Excellent article! Some stuff there that was new to me. A gull wing Bugatti? Fantastic! I notice you didn’t mention the Mercedes C III.