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The Meyer Hardtop Built by Orroville

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meyer-top

A Mark III Meyer hardtop for a CJ-5

A couple days ago a reader named Jeremy asked me about his top (above), referring to it as an “Orville Meyers” top. As I read that, I thought … hmmm … I’d never heard of an “Orville Meyers” hardtop.

While I had heard of a Meyer (without an “s”) hardtop (like the one above) and I’d heard of a Meyers (with an s) hardtop, better known as the manufacturer of the Allstate/Sears hardtops, I had never encountered a “Orville Meyers” top. I thought I’d better do a search, because I figure Jeremy must have gotten the name from somewhere.

The search results revealed that some of the folks over at the earlyCJ5 forum use various iterations of Orville Meyer(s) to describe what was marketed in the 60s as a Meyer hardtop. The addition of Orville made me think that the Orville connection must have originated from somewhere given its prevalence over there.

Several searches later, I learned how Orrville (2 “r”s and 2 “l”s) Body Company, was connected with the Meyer Products company.

At some point in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the Meyer Products company, from Cleveland, Ohio, chose to enter the hardtop market for the jeep. Up to that point, Meyer was known more for its snow plows, a product Meyer had built for vehicles before the jeep ever existed.

 

orrville-cabs

The Short History of Orrville Body Works (read the long history here): The Orrville Body Works seems to have gotten it’s name from the city of Orrville, Ohio, a city southwest of Akron. Started as a small cabinet shop under a different name, by 1925 it had become the Orrville Body Works that produced a variety of truck cabs. Soon the name changed to the Oroville Body Company.

Meyer buys Orrville: Fast forwarding to the early 1960s, at some unknown time, Meyer contracted with Orrville to build custom jeeps cabs, though it’s not clear what tops Orrville initially built. What we do know is that the president and owner of Oroville died in September of 1964. A year later, in late 1965, Orrville was purchased by Meyer and was made a subsidiary of Meyer for the purpose of adding a line of jeep hardtops to Orrville’s portfolio of product, but with the tops marketed under the Meyer brand. The name of the company was changed from the Orrville Body Company to Orrville products, Inc.

meyer-hardtop-orville

The Meyer Mark III jeep cab on a Meyer CJ-5, possibly a tux park.

Meyer introduces the new hardtops: A year after the purchase, Meyer introduced it’s new line of hardtops. According to the December 16, 1966, issue of the Orrville Courier Crescent,

“Jeep News, a publication of the Kaiser-Jeep Corp. of Toledo, is featuring in its current issue a new all-steel ‘M-III’ cab designed especially for its famous four-wheel vehicle by the Meyer Products Co., Inc., of Cleveland which is now being built here in the Orrville Products Co. plant, a subsidiary of Meyer Products.

“Built-in standard features of the cab include sound deadening, streamlined appearance, almost complete visibility in every direction and snug cold-weather comfort for owners of Jeep Universal. Two styles are available; each custom engineered for either the CJ 5 or CJ 6 model.

“The ‘owner-designed’ Meyer cab has welded and sealed drip moldings for maximum water run-off, and a four-step baked enamel finish for utmost durability. All components are steam cleaned, phosphate – coated and primed with a special rust-preventing coating before painting. The hard enamel finish coat is precision-baked in a special oven under close temperature control. Lustrous glacier white enamel is standard but other colors are available on quantity orders.

“Optional accessories provide Meyer cab users additional comfort and convenience. A two-position air vent gives the driver finger-tip control for drawing in fresh air or exhausting stale air. A roof-mounted tire rack assembly puts the spare tire up out of the way, yet easily accessible when needed.

“Every Meyer cab is shipped with all hardware, ready for fast, simple assembly. Step-by step photos illustrate the easy to follow installation instructions.

“Orrville Products Co. officials emphasize that the new cab is available only from authorized Jeep dealers and that none are available at the factory for mounting by other dealers or individuals.”

So, that’s why you may occasionally see Orrville and Meyer linked in regards to the Meyer hardtops. In my mind, they are still Meyer tops as they Meyer owned Orrville and the tops were marketed by and for Meyer as a compliment to its other products.

Given the ‘all-new “owner-designed” cabs’ verbiage on the front of the brochure, I’d say this was likely one of the earliest Meyer hardtop brochures:

1960s-meyer-hardtop-lowres1 1960s-meyer-hardtop-lowres2 1960s-meyer-hardtop-lowres3 1960s-meyer-hardtop-lowres4

It’s still unclear how long Meyer made hardtops for jeeps, but they did produce a good number of them as they became a pretty common hardtop.

 

3 Comments on “The Meyer Hardtop Built by Orroville

  1. Mike

    Interesting reading, I always liked the Meyer hard top best, great styling, they set the pace for future hard top designs. One thing I don’t see in this post is the fact that when Meyer first introduced the hard top, the roof panel came in two sections, assembly required bolting the two sections together with calking along the seam. Within a couple years, water leaks developed, and as a result, Meyer came out with the second version with a solid ribbed, roof panel with a more rounded look at the corners. If you look closely at the the sales brochures, the pictures show both styles. I have the later model ribbed roof model on my 66 CJ5.

  2. David Eilers Post author

    Mike, I didn’t know that about the Meyer 2-piece top.

    I didn’t find much luck determining what the company’s first hardtop product was or when it was offered.

  3. Bob

    Orville is not far from where I live. Maybe 20 miles. Gersenslager is not far from there either. They make truck bodies.

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