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Kelly Manufacturing’s Safari and 23-Series Tops

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features • TAGS: , This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

UPDATE: The September 1962 issue of Four Wheeler included a full page ad for its new hardtop and half-top designs. The magazine included both a full-page ad and a short article. Given this info, it looks like the top redesign was introduced during the summer of 1962.




Originally Published July 7, 2020: Sometime in the early 1960s, Kelly Manufacturing altered the design of its angular full and half hardtops. The new tops eliminated some of the horizontal bevels and the flat back design for a slightly more elegant design; but, the tops did retain the angled top-side that was so recognizable (As I don’t have much knowledge on any interior changes, this post will stick to the major exterior differences) (See Kelly’s connection to Beck and Kemco and an early Kelly brochure) (Also see CJ-3B page Beck and Kelly histories)

Interestingly enough, Kelly branded the Flatfender  tops as 23-series, but not the CJ-5 tops. Here’s a 1962 Kelly brochure that highlights a wide variety of the rear-angled design for both the CJ-5 and the flatfenders, along with the model numbers:

1962-08-01-kelly-cabs-safari-cab-brochure2 1962-08-01-kelly-cabs-safari-cab-brochure3 1962-08-01-kelly-cabs-safari-cab-brochure4

To make the differences more clear, let’s take a look at the early Kelly design (these early hardtops were also marketed by the Berg’s as JeepKing hardtops). Notice the horizontal bevels along the driver’s side rear and on the rear latch. Also note the flat vertical back of the hardtop.

Here’s a half-top example:

Now, some of the angle-back hardtops from Kelly. The 23 Series tops (with varying model numbers) are a clean design, in my opinion, and proved popular. Here’s a couple brochure examples, though the angle of the rear top isn’t all that clear:

Some example images will help. Here are a few half-hardtops:

Some example images will help. Here are a couple full-hardtops:

And, a Kelly Safari Hardtop with the 23 series design:






By 1970, while Kelly continued offering the 23-series hardtops for flat fenders, the company had dropped the rear angle design for the CJ-5s in favor of a curved rear design with varying branding, such as the Bonanza III hardtop (the fanciest at the time):



3 Comments on “Kelly Manufacturing’s Safari and 23-Series Tops

  1. Mike

    When I bought my CJ5 from “Fat Keith” in 1978, it had a Bonanza cab, I sold it for $124.00. I was asking $125.00 but that’s all the money he had in his pocket. We lifted it on to his Jeep, him and his buddy held it on each with one hand, all the way down the Garden State Parkway, from my house in Clifton, to the shore area, Point Pleasant, about 90 miles. Loosing hold of the top was not their main concern, running out of gas was. Another amusing true story from the Memory vault.

  2. David Eilers Post author

    That’s a LONG drive with an unsecured top. Not the most well-thoughtout plan. But, at least they made it!

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