Cheapest Car with Butterfly Doors: Guide to Affordable Luxury Vehicles

Last updated on January 13, 2024

Explore the realm of affordable butterfly-door cars because they offer a blend of luxury and economy that is impossible to resist.

Butterfly doors are not just the reserve of ultra-luxurious supercars; they’re an automotive design marvel that merges form with function, turning heads while offering practical benefits like improved aerodynamics and visibility.

Originating from a practical need to navigate tight parking spaces, the butterfly door design – which sees doors pivot upward and outward, like the wings of a butterfly – has evolved into an emblem of style and innovation.

For car enthusiasts fascinated by this exquisite feature yet constrained by budget, options do exist. Cars like the Toyota Sera and Autozam AZ-1 are proof that you can own this slice of luxury without breaking the bank.

Dive into the world of affordable vehicles sporting these spectacular doors and learn how they manage to combine the demand for strength in the chassis with the delight of an iconic opening style.

Key takeaways:

  • Butterfly doors pivot at the front, opening upward and outward.
  • The design originated for practical reasons and has become a style statement.
  • Butterfly doors can improve aerodynamics and visibility.
  • Vehicles with butterfly doors require a stronger chassis.
  • Affordable options with butterfly doors include the Toyota Sera and Autozam AZ-1.

Butterfly Car Doors: Things You Need To Know

butterfly car doors things you need to know

When discussing the allure of butterfly doors, consider these concepts to deepen your understanding:

  • Mechanism: Unlike traditional doors, which swing outward, butterfly doors pivot at the front, opening upward and outward in a majestic, wing-like fashion.
  • Design Origin: The design was initially introduced for practical reasons, offering easier access in tight parking spaces while also reducing door width. It has since become a statement of style and sophistication in the automotive world.
  • Aerodynamics: Their unique opening style can benefit the car’s aerodynamics, potentially reducing drag when entering and exiting the vehicle.
  • Structural Considerations: Vehicles equipped with these doors often require a stronger and more rigid chassis to ensure proper alignment and support, which can affect the overall design and architecture of the car.
  • Visibility & Access: While they offer a dramatic entrance and exit, they can also improve overhead clearance and visibility for the driver when maneuvering in and out of the vehicle.

Understanding these key aspects can help appreciate the engineering marvel and aesthetic appeal of butterfly doors beyond their surface-level glamour.

Affordable Cars With Butterfly Doors

affordable cars with butterfly doors

Diving into the market, the Toyota Sera, hailing from the early ’90s, stands out as a pioneer in integrating butterfly doors into a more budget-friendly bracket. Though it might be more challenging to find, its vintage charm is matched by its unique door mechanism.

For the enthusiasts desiring a bit more zest, the Autozam AZ-1 delivers. This kei car, a product of Japan’s compact vehicle segment, showcases butterfly doors that blend well with its compact dimensions and lightweight stature.

The Volkswagen XL1, on the other hand, treads the line between efficiency and style. This limited-production diesel plug-in hybrid turns heads with its doors and aerodynamic design while keeping its promise of stellar fuel economy.

If your budget stretches further, the BMW i8 offers a sophisticated blend of technology and luxury. Its plug-in hybrid system is complemented by the allure of its upward-swinging doors, making it a head-turner in the eco-friendly sports car arena.

Emerging as a more recent entrant, the McLaren Artura stands as an accessible option for those drawn to the supercar territory. Its hybrid powertrain is just as innovative as its design, butterfly doors included.

Completing the lineup, the Maserati MC20 is the Italian automaker’s bet in the high-performance category, where its butterfly doors are part of a wider suite of striking features designed to leave a lasting impression.

Finding a car with butterfly doors does not always mean venturing into the territory of the ultra-rich. From vintage classics to modern marvels, there’s a spectrum of choices that bring the allure of butterfly doors into a more attainable realm.

Toyota Sera

Launched in the early ’90s, the Toyota Sera is a classic example of innovation becoming accessible. While often overshadowed by pricier contemporaries, this model brought butterfly doors to a broader audience. It offers a 1.5-liter inline-four engine, proving that an exhilarating design doesn’t require a supercar’s powertrain.

Aside from its distinctive doors, it features a glass roof that extends from the windshield to the rear, creating an open, airy cabin feel. With a production run from 1990 to 1995, it’s now a sought-after collectible for those who appreciate its unique blend of affordability and flair.

The Sera’s entry into markets outside Japan primarily occurs through imports, so enthusiasts should factor in potential additional costs. Despite its age, it serves as a testament to Toyota’s willingness to blend the exotic with the everyday.

Autozam AZ-1

Hailing from the early ’90s, the Autozam AZ-1 stands out with its gullwing doors, often mistaken for butterfly doors due to their similar upward motion. Produced by Mazda under its Autozam brand, this kei car is coveted for its rarity and distinct style.

Measuring a mere 3.3 meters long and 1.3 meters wide, its compact dimensions are complemented by a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout.

Powered by a turbocharged 657cc three-cylinder engine, the AZ-1 offers a modest 63 horsepower, which is spirited in the lightweight frame. The interior is snug, sporting a pair of bucket seats and a 90s-era dashboard design, while the exterior features a fiberglass body to keep it light.

Collectors and JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) enthusiasts prize the AZ-1 for its unique combination of design and performance at an affordable price point for a car with such distinctive doors.

Keep in mind, while the initial cost might be low, the rarity of this vehicle can drive up ownership costs, particularly for maintenance and parts.

Volkswagen XL1

The Volkswagen XL1 turns heads not just because of its futuristic design, but also because of the striking butterfly doors that elevate its eco-friendly status to a symbol of cutting-edge automotive technology.

This two-seater hybrid car, with its lightweight carbon-fiber body, was designed for optimal aerodynamics and astonishing fuel efficiency, achieving around 261 miles per gallon.

Although production was limited, the XL1 represents one of the more accessible options for those enchanted by the exclusivity of butterfly doors – often associated with high-end supercars.

For the eco-conscious driver with a penchant for the unique, the XL1 presents a blend of environmental consideration and the allure of luxury aesthetics.


The BMW i8 is nothing short of an icon when it comes to fusing futuristic styling with eco-conscious performance. Boasting butterfly doors that make a statement every time they gracefully swing open, the i8 is a showstopper.

As a plug-in hybrid, it offers a compromise between electric efficiency and the familiar growl of a combustion engine.

It’s worth noting that the i8 was discontinued in 2020, but second-hand models are accessible, often found at a fraction of their original price. The used market generally lists them anywhere from the low $60,000s, with variations based on mileage and condition.

With its carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic and aluminum frame, the i8 is both lightweight and rigid, enhancing its performance credentials.

Despite its sports car aura, the i8 is surprisingly practical, offering four seats, albeit with the rear two better suited for short journeys or additional storage space.

Its features include an infotainment system, environmentally conscious materials, and efficient aerodynamics, further cementing its position at the crossroads of luxury and sustainability.

Keep in mind that while its butterfly doors elevate the visual appeal, they may pose a challenge in tight parking spaces.

McLaren Artura

The McLaren Artura not only embodies the exclusive cachet of supercar luxury but also introduces environmentally-minded performance.

As a hybrid entry within the realm of butterfly door-equipped cars, it offers an electrifying combination of a twin-turbocharged V6 engine paired with an electric motor.

The Artura stands out with its lightweight architecture and futuristic aesthetics, making it a testament to McLaren’s dedication to innovation.

Notably, its dihedral doors—a signature McLaren feature that enhances both form and function—contribute to the vehicle’s sleek design and ease-of-access in tight parking spots.

These doors, hinged at the base, rotate both upwards and outwards, creating an eye-catching display whenever driver and passengers arrive or exit.

While this model leans towards the higher end of the “affordable” spectrum for exotic car enthusiasts, it certainly offers a unique blend of eco-conscious performance and dramatic style.

Maserati MC20

Shifting into a new era of Italian sports cars, the Maserati MC20 marks a significant entry on the list of vehicles with butterfly doors. This sleek model brings a breath of fresh air, combining luxury with the thrill of innovative design.

Price Bracket: While the MC20 isn’t at the bottom end of the price spectrum, it remains one of the more accessible options when it comes to high-end sports cars featuring the coveted butterfly doors.

Performance Meets Elegance: Underneath those doors lies a twin-turbo V6, giving life to a 621-horsepower engine—a balance of power and sophistication that Maserati is known for.

Material Mastery: The use of ultra-light carbon fiber in its construction not only enhances performance but ensures that the butterfly doors are practical and not just an aesthetic choice.

Aerodynamic Artistry: The doors are part of an aerodynamically honed body, ensuring that their function goes beyond visual flair, contributing to the car’s agile performance.

Exclusive Ownership: The MC20 creates an exclusive club, not just for its price and features, but for its limited production, ensuring that the butterfly doors open to a rarefied world.

In essence, the MC20 broadcasts Maserati’s commitment to high performance and standout design, maintaining the brand’s storied heritage while evolving with contemporary innovations.

Overview of Price Range for Affordable Butterfly Door Cars

Securing a car with butterfly doors often suggests a hefty price tag, as this feature is typically reserved for high-end exotics. However, enthusiasts on a budget can rejoice, as there are options that won’t require a second mortgage. Generally, prices for more accessible models start in the low five figures. Pre-owned options like the Toyota Sera or the Autozam AZ-1, both from the early ’90s era, can range from $15,000 to $25,000, depending on condition and mileage.

Moving into the realm of contemporary vehicles, the rare Volkswagen XL1 was initially priced around $150,000 due to its limited production and advanced technology. In contrast, the BMW i8 found its initial market positioning starting at about $140,000, although used prices now hover significantly lower.

In recent introductions, the McLaren Artura, a supercar with hybrid innovation, and the Maserati MC20, boasting Italian design and performance, offer these doors while attempting to keep costs beneath the stratosphere of pricier counterparts. These models begin just under $200,000, marking a new threshold for the feature in modern sports cars.

Remember, the price range can vary greatly based on multiple factors including location, availability, demand, and the year and condition of the car. It’s always recommended to research current market values and anticipate additional expenses like maintenance, insurance, and potential modifications.

What Are Butterfly Doors?

Butterfly doors are a hallmark of automotive extravagance, hinging at the top of the car rather than the sides. Picture the wings of a butterfly as they open – this door type imitates that graceful upward and outward motion.

Not just an aesthetic feature, these doors allow for easier access in tight spaces compared to traditional doors. They’re engineered with a unique set of hinges that demand careful design and additional structural support within the door frame.

Originally a feature on high-end sports cars and exotics, butterfly doors add a touch of luxury and a wow factor that can turn any vehicle into a head-turner, and nowadays, they can be found on a select few more accessible models.

Pros and Cons of Butterfly Doors

The allure of butterfly doors extends beyond their head-turning aesthetic; they can actually save space in tight parking spots, as they pivot up and out, requiring less lateral room to open compared to traditional doors. Furthermore, the design often results in a wider aperture, easing ingress and egress, particularly in low-slung sports cars where this can otherwise be a challenge.

However, practicality takes a hit in certain scenarios. For example, in low garage spaces, the vertical clearance needed for butterfly doors can be problematic, limiting where drivers can park their car safely. Additionally, there’s the cost consideration — both the initial purchase price can be more substantial, and potential maintenance expenses could be higher due to the complex hinge mechanisms and specialized parts.

Another downside is the weather element. Unlike conventional doors, butterfly doors expose the interior to the elements when opened, which can be inconvenient in inclement weather conditions. This setup might discourage daily use if you live in an area prone to frequent rain or snow.

Can You Install Butterfly Doors On Any Car?

While butterfly doors undoubtedly add a layer of style and uniqueness to a vehicle, retrofitting them onto a car that wasn’t designed with them in mind can be challenging. The process involves significant structural modifications.

First, the car’s standard doors and their opening mechanism must be removed. It’s not just about aesthetics; the car frame must be reinforced to support the new hinge mechanism that butterfly doors require. This is because they open outward and upward, putting different stresses on the car’s body compared to regular doors.

Next, consider the wiring for power windows, locks, and side mirrors, which typically runs through the doors. This will need rerouting and careful integration with the new door system.

Moreover, the added weight of the butterfly doors, often due to the heavy-duty hinges and struts to lift the doors, may affect the vehicle’s performance. Thus, ensuring the car can handle these changes without compromising driveability is crucial.

Lastly, weather sealing can be a concern. Butterfly doors must be perfectly aligned to prevent water ingress which can be more complex on a retrofit compared to cars designed with these doors from the factory.

In essence, while possible, installing butterfly doors involves sophisticated work and is not necessarily a straightforward bolt-on project. It’s essential to consult with a specialist who can assess whether the vehicle’s structure can accommodate such modifications safely and effectively.

What Is the Difference Between Butterfly Doors and Scissor Doors?

Butterfly doors and scissor doors both add an extravagant flair to car designs, but they open in distinctly different ways.

Hinged at the top, butterfly doors pivot outwards and upwards, resembling the wings of a butterfly ready for flight. This design is often found in high-performance sports cars, allowing for easier access in tight spaces while also reducing the door’s swing arc.

In contrast, scissor doors are hinged at the front and move vertically upward, much like a pair of scissors. They swing up and out but don’t pivot outward as much as butterfly doors. This type of door is particularly popular in exotic cars, giving them a dramatic look when opened.

Both designs require specific mechanisms and structural integrity to operate smoothly, and each comes with its unique set of advantages and technical considerations. Whether choosing between butterfly and scissor doors for aesthetic appeal or practical functionality, the opening style contributes to the vehicle’s overall character and driver experience.

What Cars Have Butterfly Doors?

Typically, when thinking of butterfly doors, high-end models like the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Lamborghini Aventador come to mind, each a representation of the elevated status associated with such design. These exotic vehicles use the spectacular door mechanism as a blend of aesthetics and functionality, affording easy cabin access even in tight spaces.

Despite the luxury market dominance, butterfly doors have fluttered into more accessible territory. The McLaren Artura showcases this feature at a relatively more attainable price point, merging high-performance with the dramatic entrance only such doors can offer.

Beyond sports cars, the eco-conscious BMW i8 integrates the mechanism, reinforcing the futuristic appeal of its hybrid technology. Similarly, the Toyota Sera, a classic from the early ’90s, surprises many with its butterfly doors, proving that this feature isn’t exclusive to modern-day vehicles nor restricted to the luxury category.

In short, while closely associated with supercars and rarified air, butterfly doors have extended their reach, granting a wider audience the joy of a unique and stylish car entry and exit experience.

How Do Butterfly Doors Affect Car Insurance?

Butterfly doors are considered a special modification and can influence car insurance premiums. Insurers may view these as a higher risk for several reasons:

1. Replacement Cost: Damage to butterfly doors typically results in higher repair costs due to their unique mechanism and parts.

2. Theft Risk: Cars with such eye-catching features can be more attractive to thieves, potentially increasing the likelihood of theft.

3. Structural Integrity: In certain accidents, butterfly doors might affect the structural integrity of the vehicle, leading to more extensive damage and potentially higher claims.

4. Limited Accessibility: In emergencies, these doors could potentially hinder rescue efforts, which might raise liability concerns for insurers.

When seeking coverage for a car with butterfly doors, disclose the door style to the insurer. Be prepared for a possible increase in premiums and ask about coverage limits for custom parts and equipment. Remember, shopping around for quotes can lead to finding an insurance policy that will accommodate the unique features of your vehicle at a reasonable cost.

Are Butterfly Doors Practical in Daily Use?

While their aesthetic appeal is undeniable, butterfly doors often raise practicality questions for daily use:

  • Parking Considerations: They require less lateral space to open compared to traditional doors, making them suitable for tight parking spots. However, the doors’ upward arc means that you’ll need enough vertical clearance, which could be a problem in standard garages with low ceilings.
  • Weather Conditions: Entering and exiting your car during inclement weather can be more of a challenge due to the doors opening upwards, potentially exposing the interior to rain or snow.
  • Service and Repairs: Hierarchy of special mechanisms that operate these doors means maintenance could be more intricate and potentially costlier than standard doors.
  • Ergonomics: Some find that ducking under the door wing can be less graceful than simply swinging open a regular door, particularly in dress clothes or with physical constraints.
  • Access in Emergencies: In the event of an accident, butterfly doors may be more difficult for rescue services to open, especially if the vehicle is overturned or if the complex door mechanisms fail.

These points outline user considerations but do not universally apply to all vehicles with butterfly doors or to all use situations.

Safety Concerns With Butterfly Doors

Safety is paramount when it comes to any vehicle feature, and doors are no exception. The distinct design of butterfly doors, while aesthetically pleasing, raises a few concerns. In the event of a rollover, these doors can become a hazard if they are obstructed from opening due to the car’s position. This could potentially trap passengers inside. Furthermore, rescue operations may be less straightforward compared to conventional doors, as emergency responders may require special training or equipment to efficiently open butterfly doors.

Additionally, the unique opening mechanism may be affected by weather elements, particularly in areas prone to heavy snow or ice, which could compromise the door’s function. It’s also worth considering the structural integrity of these doors over time. Frequent use and the complex hinge mechanisms require meticulous maintenance to ensure consistent operation and safety.

When parking, the vertical clearance needed for butterfly doors to open fully can be restricted in low-ceiling garages or spaces with overhead obstructions. This not only poses a risk of damage to the doors but could also be a challenge during emergency exits in confined areas.

Manufacturers mitigate these risks by incorporating robust safety features and rigorous testing to comply with safety standards. Nonetheless, awareness and understanding of these concerns is an essential aspect of owning and operating a vehicle with such door designs.

Maintenance and Durability of Butterfly Doors

When it comes to maintaining butterfly doors, expect a similar routine to conventional doors with some nuances. Hinges and struts that enable the upward swing need regular lubrication to combat wear and to ensure smooth operation. Weather stripping is also critical, as these door types may be more susceptible to leaks if not properly sealed due to their complex opening mechanism.

In terms of durability, the hardware for butterfly doors is generally robust to accommodate the additional stress of the vertical motion. However, the unique mechanics can attract higher repair costs if a fault arises, mainly because special expertise may be required. Additionally, parking in tight spaces might call for extra caution to avoid damaging the doors against adjacent vehicles or obstacles, as they often require more clearance when open.

Regular inspections by professionals who are familiar with the specific door mechanism of your car can help nip potential issues in the bud and ensure continued performance, preserving the striking appeal and function of your car’s butterfly doors.

Final Thoughts

When considering a vehicle with butterfly doors, aesthetic appeal often takes front stage, but it’s essential to weigh practicality alongside style.

They offer a unique opening mechanism that can significantly enhance the look of your car, escalating its status to that of more exotic machines.

However, take a moment to ponder over parking space constraints, potential higher insurance costs, and whether such features fit your lifestyle.

A thorough examination of these factors will ensure that your desire for a standout feature aligns with your daily needs and budget.

Remember, while they may be the wings that draw the crowd, they should also harmonize with the practical aspects of driving and car ownership.


Which car has butterfly doors?

Butterfly doors are a distinctive feature of several cars, including the McLaren F1, Toyota GT-One, Saleen S7, Enzo Ferrari, Bentley Speed 8, Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, McLaren Senna, and Maserati MC20.

What model has butterfly doors?

Models that have butterfly doors include the McLaren F1, Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, Saleen S7, Enzo Ferrari and its FXX version, Toyota Sera/EXY-10, and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

Can you get butterfly doors on any car?

Yes, potentially any car can be equipped with butterfly doors as it is linked to the hinge positions, which are consistent across most vehicles.

How are butterfly doors different from conventional car doors?

Butterfly doors, unlike conventional car doors, open upwards and outwards, pivoting at the front of the door just behind the fender.

What kind of maintenance do butterfly doors require?

Butterfly doors require regular lubrication of hinges and locking mechanisms, comprehensive inspection for damages, and timely repair of any misalignment or issues in electronic systems, to ensure smooth operation and longevity.

How do butterfly doors impact the value of a car?

Butterfly doors, due to their unique aesthetic appeal and rarity, generally increase the value of a car.


Liked this article? Here's what you can read next: