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Suicide Doors: 1940 Chevrolet Master 85

1940 Chevrolet Master 85

I still remember how awestruck I was the first time I saw a classic car with suicide doors. I thought it was the coolest thing, but I really didn’t understand why everyone called them suicide doors. Now that I’ve had the chance to ride in a car with them, I get the name! It really is a neat feature from a time when people cared more about style and functionality than safety. This Chevy Master 85 features these cool doors and has supposedly been in storage for the past 20 years! It looks to be in good shape given its age and can be found here on eBay in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with bidding just over $1k!

1940 Chevrolet Master

It definitely is going to need work. The interior is not looking its best, but it’s complete. I see some rust spots that cause concern. The paint actually looks pretty good, which leaves me wondering if it has been restored at some point in its life. With cars this age, it’s always hard to say just what all has been done to it in the past 60 or 70 years. The seller claims it does run well and that they have been driving it. If bidding stays low, this could actually be a great buy! So what do you think of the suicide doors? And do you think this car is all original?


  1. Dave Wright

    I like the old Chevrolets with the exception of the non oil pump engines. I remember whole in Highschool in Spokane, one of my classmates dad had a newer Tbird, one of the big ones with suicide doors. A bunch of kids had taken it up the mountain skiing……..they had done quite a bit of drinking by the time they headed back, one of the back seat occupants was sick and opened the rear passenger door to through up…..well, it caught a snow bank and ripped the door off. I think it totaled the car. So……..never open while driving……

    Like 0
    • Davnkatz

      Dave Wright – – – What do you mean by “Tbird”? Since 1955, that has been THE common designation for Thunderbird. Therefore, your comment is plain BS. No Tbird has ever had 4 doors and even the “big” models never had suicide doors.

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      • EmmyJ

        Um…the 5th-gen Thunderbird was available as a sedan, with suicide doors.

        Like 2
      • Stang1968

        The 1967 through 1971 Thunderbirds were offered as a 4-door Landau with suicide doors. And this was a “big” model compared to the 66 and prior.

        Like 1
      • Jason Houston

        Don’t know what you’re using for reference, but the 4-door Thunderbird not only exists (1967-1971) but it’s one of the downright ugliest cars Ford ever built.

        Like 0
      • Marty Member

        Agreed, definitely not Ford’s best work.

        Like 1
    • Jason Houston

      Or, … never open when tossing cookies…

      Like 0
  2. Dairymen

    I guess that will scare you sober!

    Like 0
  3. Ed P

    This is a good looking candidate for restoration. It may be hard for the younger readers to understand, but the column shifter was an upscale feature in this era.

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  4. RON

    I actually liked he 4 dr T-Birds of 67-73 better than the 2 drs. My brother-in-law had one of the last year 4 doors and it was a quite nice comfortable car. It was a much better attempt at mfg of that type car by Ford than the poor examples put out ny Lincoln from 61-69. Like I said you can’t depend on the “Experts” and B-J for your knowledge of the Auto World Hang on Danny or Ass Monkey will re-invent one soon!!


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  5. Jim Marshall

    The 1940 Chevrolet has a strange history. It was a 1 year only body style and in 1941 was an all new redesigned car. This also is the year Chevy came back with the convertible after not offering one in the 39 models. The 1940 convertible had a strange reinforced frame not the convertible X frame used on all GM cars. Kind of a make shift year for the biggest selling make in that era.

    Like 0
    • Ed P

      Jim: The ’41 body was used again for the 254,885 1942 Chevy’s built before production was halted for WW2. When production resumed after the end of the war, the same body was used thru the 1948 models.

      Like 0
  6. Peter R

    this car is also advertised on Kijiji in Toronto with an asking price of $5K Cdn. or about $3.5 US

    Like 0
  7. Jim

    “Suicide doors” how often do people have to jump out of moving cars?? LOL except for car chase movies and friends who were in the military and legitimately had to jump from flaming wrecks WHO? I laugh when I hear people comment about why the doors were no good, I’ve been hit a few times in my 40+ yrs if driving and never thought “maybe I should jump”!! I love insanity. Carry on, here comes the hate mail.

    Like 0
    • Chebby

      Not so much jumping out on purpose as pulling the handle (which unlocks the door in a lot of old cars) and falling out of the car. I watched my brother almost do that as a child, with dad dragging him back in across the seat. I’m sure lots of kids and drunks did that as well. With forward motion and a backward-opening door, wind and oncoming objects and even stationary objects are working against you, hence the “suicidal” nature of the design. At high speed you could not open a regular car door from the wind resistance, but a backwards door would be ripped open and out of your hands.

      Like 0
      • Jim

        Never heard that explanation, it always involved some impending disaster and the suicide door made it harder or impossible to jump clear. My ’69 Torino doors still unlock when you pull the handle from the inside, my buddies ’71 Ranchero doesn’t, you have to unlock first, I guess car companies were slow catching on. Safety costs money!

        Like 0
  8. charlie Member

    And there were no seat belts, either. My father’s ’50 Studebaker, 4 door, rear suicide doors, had the kind of door lock that just involved pushing the door handle forward to lock it, and, to unlock and open, pulling it back. This worried him, so a few weeks after it was bought the dealer put in “child safety locks” so you could not open a back door unless the front door on that side was open. Kind of a pain, but here I am, I never fell out!

    Like 0
  9. Robert Turner

    Awesome cars regardless and like all vehicles from that time…..overbuilt n rugged! Love it.

    Like 0

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