These 5 handles mark the coolest ways to open a car door
Italian supercar companies really have a grip on how to make neat door handles
You can’t get into your car without it, but we’re willing to bet it’s one of the most overlooked pieces of your car. To the untrained eye, the door handle is just a piece of metal or plastic that keeps the door secure, but design-wise, it can be so much more than that.
The door handle is a portal into a world of driving pleasure, and is the first part of the vehicle you touch.
Other than a car’s looks, the door handle is your first insight into the character of the vehicle and its essence. When attached to the vehicles on this list, they are so much more than just security.
You might expect this list to be filled with French cars, what with their penchant for avante garde styling and unconventional engineering, but you would be wrong. The biggest contributions to innovative door handle design were the Italians, more specifically, Ferrari and Lamborghini. This connection also leads us to believe that V12s and neat door handles go hand in hand, in the same way that a V12 provides a unique driving experience.
Despite Enzo never giving too much of a hoot about street cars, it’s obvious his firm put considerable thought into each of its cars’ designs, evidenced by the fact that, down to the handles, it never did the same thing twice.
1969 Ferrari 365 GTB “Daytona”
As unconventional as the styling of the 365 GTB is, it somehow found a door handle to match. While other door handles use a counter-intuitive form of motion, the Daytona’s door lever follows the same direction as the force, leading to a perfect experience — and in turn the more-perfect experience of sitting in a Daytona.
A simple chrome lever not more than a few inches long, formed solely to be functional, but not so much that it sticks out. Instead of needing to push a button and then pull on the handle, the Daytona blends the two functions into one smooth motion.
The simplicity of the design and the ease of which it can be utilized parallels the driving experience one gets in the Daytona — as a large GT car that can soak up highway miles effortlessly, it’ll make you want to pull that handle over and over for another escape.
1967 Lamborghini Miura
These handles look sharp – literally – and consist of a slim chromed piece of steel with room for just two fingers and a thumb. Press the button, pull the handle, and you’re transported into a different universe.
A perfectly engineered part should not detract from the overall design, but enhance it, and the Miura door handle does that by perfectly camouflaging with the gills on the door.
In the case of the Miura, the entire project happened behind the back of company founder Ferrucio, so it almost seems fitting the door handle be hidden away from plain view, too. Known the world over as the first supercar, there can be no overlooking that humble door handle as the gateway to a truly visceral experience.
1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB
Flush-fit door handles are all the rage nowadays — top brands like Aston Martin, Lexus, and Tesla incorporate them into their models to give a sleek appearance and supposedly reduce air resistance. While they might be commonplace now, flush-fitting door handles were something out of science fiction when Ferrari released its 250 LWB.
The timeline might seem backward, and the door handle reflects that. To enter the vehicle, push the button first, then the handle will pop out of the door, allowing you to pull it and start your affair.
The long-wheelbase 250 GT California would only last for a couple years before Ferrari changed its platform to the short wheelbase, which had different door handles. This means that these handles were only around for a couple years, too, and were never seen again.
1967 Ferrari 365 California Spyder
The “other” California Spyder, the 1967 365, had unique features never before seen on a Ferrari, but emulated for years to come. The 365 takes the idea of a hideaway door handle to the next level, for example, by perfectly blending it in with the trim that runs alongside the door, into the quarter panel.
Lacking a button, the handle just needs to be pulled to gain access to the svelte convertible. The effortlessness of this motion is echoed by the driving experience of this grand touring machine, which replaced the 500 Superamerica, Ferrari’s large GT for American roads.
The appearance of a side-vent would eventually make its way onto the 1984 Testarossa, which also features a door handle perfectly blended into the form of the design.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
You can barely even call this a door handle, but that’s kind of the point on the 250 GTO. In order to make the race car as light as possible, every component must be designed with function as the first priority, and form second. However, with 250 GTO, the function becomes the form, and the minimalist approach to engineering is what got the vehicle’s weight down to a scant 880 kg.
The door handles are a direct contrast to the GTO’s racing record. They’re as unobtrusive as possible, while the GTO instead made itself rather well-known, proving to be one of the greatest race cars in history, earning it acclaim as well as eye-wateringly high auction prices.
Also for the curious, buying a set of these door “handles” would cost you US$795, which is actually a bargain considering the car they’re on is worth upwards of US$50 million.
Driving.CA – Alex Reid