Soft-Top Research Archives

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Bestop Tigertop Deal on Amazon **Sold Out**

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Looks like this deal is not longer valid.

Jon shared the news the Amazon is currently offering a CJ-3A Bestop Tigertop for only $609.88. It’s part of their “Warehouse deals” program. He bought one of the tops and he says it fit his jeep perfectly.

https://www.amazon.com/Bestop-51403-01-Tigertop-Replacement-1948-1953/dp/B0002SA25I/

cj3a-bestop-tigertop-amazon-deal

 
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1989 Bestop Soft Top Selling Guide

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features • TAGS: .

This selling guide is a four page plasticized brochure for identifying and selling the proper top for the proper jeep.

1989-bestop-plastic-identify-jeep-brochure1-lores 1989-bestop-plastic-identify-jeep-brochure2-lores 1989-bestop-plastic-identify-jeep-brochure3-lores 1989-bestop-plastic-identify-jeep-brochure4-lores

 
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Bestop Manufacturing Company

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features • TAGS: , .

As often is the case with these company bios, I rarely know the full story, so this is a working draft.  (note, I have seen Bestop as BesTop and BESTOP, but I feel Bestop is easier to read for our purposes). If you have other interpretations, thoughts, or corrections, don’t hesitate to comment below.

Bestop Launches:

In the early 1950s, Tom Bradley ran an auto upholstery shop in Boulder, Colorado. After some customers came to him wanting repairs to their soft jeep tops, Tom decided he could build a better top, so he launched Bestop on a part-time basis in 1954. According to the Bestop website, “Working out of an old brick schoolhouse with seven employees, Bestop quickly developed a reputation for quality and the word spread.”  And, from 4wd.com, “To [Tom’s] surprise, the Jeep replacement tops began making more profit than the upholstery projects. It wasn’t long before Bradley decided to sell his upholstery business and focus on designing and manufacturing tops.”

The Bestop site notes that the business continued to grow for ten years under Tom. At that point, the story on the company’s website advances to the mid-eighties, but skips additional history in the process.

Bestop Expands Product Line:

The only evidence I could find that Bestop expanded it’s produced line under Tom was this 1961 brochure introducing rear seats. The seats have a flat, simple design.

1961-01-14-besttop-backseats1

The Stengel’s Obtain Control:

In September of 1966, forty-year-old James (Jim) Joseph Stengel filed a patent for a plastic tab that, when placed on the front edge of a soft top, allowed it to hook into the down-facing channel that is attached to most vintage 1/4 ton jeep windshields. This improved the speed at which a top could be mounted to a jeep. What Jim’s relationship to Bestop was at that point isn’t clear to me yet.

1966-09-06-james-stengel-softtop-patent-lores

As of the 1966 patent filing, there was no assignment to any company, just to Jim himself. In the meantime, at some point between 1964 and 1968, Jim and his wife Marj acquired Bestop (from Tom?) and began operating it, as her obituary notes “Marj and Jim ran their business, Bestop Mfg., which grew to be a leading manufacturer of cloth “tops” for Jeeps and other recreational vehicles”.

One bit of evidence that the Stengels were connected to Bestop by 1966 was that Jim filed the above 1966 patent under the address “P.O. Box 318, Boulder, Colorado”, the same address that appears in this May 1968 brochure published by Bestop.

Two years later, in 1968, Bestop Manufacturing filed for a Trademark on the name Bestop, again under the same PO Box 318 address :

1968-bestop-trademark

Now, this is where it becomes a little confusing. At some point in 1968, Bestop acquired or expanded into several lines of additional products and, around the same time period, Husky Products appears to have dropped a similar type of products.

Below is a visual comparison of a 1966 Husky brochure and the 1968 Bestop brochure. The first three pages of the Bestop brochure kind of look like reworked versions of the 1966 Husky brochure (it’s this comparison that started my dive into this topic). And, yes, I realize the tops are somewhat different, especially at the back (Husky continued to advertise the full top into the 1970s, but dropped advertising for the half tops, the multiple doors, and other items).

Continue reading

 
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CJ-5 Bestop Soft Top Lake Elmo, MN $100

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Never used. Could be a great price.

https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/wsh/pts/d/lake-elmo-cj5-best-top-bestop-white-top/6956904458.html

“Jeep cj5 best top… Bestop dualmatic
Bought a Willy’s cj5. This was never used. Just laid around in the garage and got dirty. No rips or tears.
Comes with all the support bars.”

white-cj5-bestop-mn

 
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Handy Table for Sleeping/Eating

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

This article comes from the 1963 issue of Four Wheeler Magazine. Perhaps more interesting to me than the table, which is utilized for sleeping or as a table is the top. The top was modified to accommodate the table, but I’ve not seen a top that also had the rhombus-shaped rear windows. I believe the bumpers may be from Con-Ferr (or were later sold by Con-Ferr).

1963-09-four-wheeler-mag-bed-table-pgs16-17-1 1963-09-four-wheeler-mag-bed-table-pgs16-17-2

 
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1951 CJ-3A Grants Pass, OR $4000

• CATEGORIES: CJ-3A • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Price dropped to $4000.

(03/25/2019) Unusual soft top setup.

https://medford.craigslist.org/cto/d/grants-pass-willy-jeep/6908267669.html

“1951 jeep 2 seats w/bench seat in back, gun rack, halogen spot light, locking front & rear differential,
Ramsey winch, 1200 lbs,V6 w/holly 2 barrel carb., P20 power take off, hydraulic 4 wheel brake locker,kill switch, custom canopy cover over back seat.”

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DJ-3A Tops Bows and Clips Black Canyon City, AZ

• CATEGORIES: DJ-3A, Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Still Available.

https://phoenix.craigslist.org/nph/pts/d/black-canyon-city-jeep-dispatch-dj3a/6794736566.html

The top bows are $700 a set. A price for the top clips were not included. The seller only has a few sets made. He notes that he isn’t making any money on them and has been more than willing to share information on the insights he gains trying to make his top.

The soft top is something custom the seller had made by an upholsterer. It took him some work to redesign and properly fit the top so that it would fold up and connect to the windshield properly, yet also fold down and attach to the body.

Here is pic of the reproduction bows vs. the original black bows:

dj3a-softop-recreation0

Here’s a pic of the soft top:dj3a-softop-recreation1 dj3a-softop-recreation2

 
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Original(?) CJ-2A Canvas Top Waterbury, VT $1200

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

If original, it looks in good shape. I haven’t seen enough of these to say for certain the seller’s claim is correct.

https://vermont.craigslist.org/pts/d/willys-cj2a-original-canvass/6728235171.html

“70+ year old canvass top.Bows,hardware,canvass.Some of the canvass is usable,all is fit for patterns.Doors were redone a few years ago.For the ultimate restoration”

original-cj2a-canvas-top-vt

 
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White CJ-2A Soft Top Cincinnati, OH $150

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Worth a look at that price.

https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/pts/d/willys-jeep-white-soft-top/6725465067.html

“My loss is your gain! Willys white soft top with doors. Top and doors are older but still in pretty decent shape. This will clean up really nice! I also have the top frame if you need it. Should fit your CJ-2 Jeep.”

white-softtop-cincin-oh

 
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1947 CJ-2A Amherst, NY **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: CJ-2A • TAGS: , .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $5400.

(08/31/2018) This is a fun, old school build. I can’t remember seeing another top like that one.

“1947 Jeep Willys. 283 Small Block Chevrolet engine. Warn overdrive aux. transmission. 3 speed plus overdrive, removable top. Runs and drives great. Paint is showing it’s age, but still presentable.”

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Soft Top Model? Fresno, CA $125

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

No pics provided. Might be a good price.

https://fresno.craigslist.org/for/d/jeep-soft-top/6699477489.html

“Used White Soft Top & Doors for Willy’s Jeep.”

 

 
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Fastback Soft Top Le Sueur, MN **Status Unknown**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **Status Unknown** Was $100.

Unclear if this fits a flat fender or a CJ-5, but either way, it’s a good price.

“Best top Brand Very Nice Like New Top and Used Doors Pic shows top on a 63 Willys I think it should fit a Cj3 Cj 5”

soft-top-fastback-mn

 
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Fastback Softtop for Model? Bellevue, WA **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $300.

(08/27/2018) Very few of these fastback, or angled back, soft tops around. It requires a rollbar of the right size to work. Seller is not clear whether it is for a CJ-5/M-38A1 or a Flattie.

“I have this top that is brand new never installed (not sure year and model know it is for a flat fender you will need to try), it is the type that does not require hardware, mounts directly on the roll bar ( that yes you need to have it ), from the roll bar goes down with an angle to the tub.”

fastback-softtop

 
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1952 CJ-3A APU Portland, OR $7000

• CATEGORIES: CJ-3A • TAGS: , .

Carl and Marty spotted this APU. It appears to be missing the extra gauges, but does have the original data plates, the hood, and the correct engine. The soft top seems to be a Dualmatic, as it has the large square rear window and the two-part doors with snaps (thanks Pascal!).

https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/d/1952-willys-jeep/6710903591.html

“Clean and mostly original 1952 Willy’s Jeep.
Was my grandpa’s since mid 60s.
Most of it’s life spent in Utah – always garaged.
I took it to Portland in 2012. Since then, it’s spent time between here and rural WA (always garaged both places).
Oregon titled. It runs very well. New hoses, radiator in last 1000 miles.
New battery.
Please see pics. If interested, email me and we can set up a time for you to check it out.
$7,000 or best offer. Serious inquires only please.”

1952-cj3a-apu-port-or1 1952-cj3a-apu-port-or2 1952-cj3a-apu-port-or3 1952-cj3a-apu-port-or4 Continue reading

 
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Muller Top Upland, CA **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Features, Parts • TAGS: , , .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $380. I’ve contacted the seller and explained what he had (apparently, someone else had called him, too). He’d like to find this a good home. 

(08/02/2018) This is likely the only Muller top to be found that’s not installed on a jeep (See the directions for making a Muller top here). It’s a great piece of history.

“Selling a hard/soft top for a M-38 CJ-3A or Dispatcher Jeep. I’ve never seen another top like this one before. My dad bought this over 30 yrs ago to put on his flatfender. But it never was installed. And now I own the Jeep but it won’t fit over the cage. It’s got a metal/wood frame it looks like a soft top from the outside but is full framed with a headliner. The doors and side,rear windows all store in a compartment inside the roof . No tears or rust it’s dirty but it’s been stored indoor’s as long as we’ve owned it. I’m running out of room so it’s up for sale”

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1942? MB? Blackville, SC $6500

• CATEGORIES: MB • TAGS: , .

This could be a good price.

https://columbia.craigslist.org/cto/d/1942-willys-jeep-usmc/6660499531.html

“Willys Jeep in dress blue! Perfect for parades or daily use. 4 cylinder, flat head; 5 new tires.”

1942-mb-blackville-sc1 1942-mb-blackville-sc2 1942-mb-blackville-sc3

 
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1949 CJ-3A Lindon, UT $15,000

• CATEGORIES: CJ-2A • TAGS: , , .

UPDATE: Stlll Available.

https://www.ksl.com/auto/listing/3953951?ad_cid=13

“2nd owner. Runs good. Drives good. It’s the L head 134. Father in law bought 2 years ago from the original owner. Been is storage/garage the whole time. Used in the Fair. Hobbies are changing and needs a new home. Located in Heber. Thanks for looking. Lots of original documention. I have video of it running if you’d like to see or hear. 562 miles showing. Not sure of actual mileage”

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Kayline Soft Top for CJ-2A Eldorado, Ca **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $250.

The holes along the front of this top suggest to me it is a 2A top rather than a 3A.

“I have what I believe to be a soft top and doors for a Jeep CJ3a. I’ve searched Google and it looks like the pics for a CJ3a. The top is made by Kayline and is in excellent condition. It shows some signs of wear but doesn’t look like it was used very much. It’s shiny black and the windows are clear with no yellowing. The doors look a little more used but are still in good shape with clear windows. Unfortunately, I don’t have any hardware. Call or text me if interested.”

cj2a-softtop-eldorado-ca

 
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2 CJ-6 Soft Tops Duluth, MN

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

No pics provided. Both sound like good prices.

“Two soft tops one black with doors for a Cj6 the long odd ball one. Like new. $400.00. One is tan with doors I bought this in the box. The door mechanicals are still in the bag. $300.00”

https://duluth.craigslist.org/pts/d/jeep-tops/6450155319.html

 
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1960s White Automotive Soft Top Brochures

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features • TAGS: .

White Automotive was based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The company sold different types of soft tops for a wide range of jeeps. They also sold tire covers, half-doors, spare-tire carriers, and other items. The brochures below are currently on eBay. The company also used the brand name Whitco and/or White Mfg. at times.

1. This one page brochure includes a dealer’s note. 

View all the information on eBay

1960s-white-automotive-softtop1 1960s-white-automotive-softtop2 1960s-white-automotive-softtop3

2. White Automotive’s bikini top and half doors.

View all the information on eBay

1960s-white-automotive-bikini-top-doors

3. This is an example of a brochure that uses the brand name “Whitco”.

View all the information on eBay

1950s-white-automotive-softtop-brochure1

1950s-white-automotive-softtop-brochure2

 
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Kayline Brochures on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features • TAGS: .

1. This Kayline brochure is back on eBay. These were produced out of Colorado but also marketed by Kelly Manufacturing east of the Mississippi.

View all the information on eBay

Continue reading

 
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1949? CJ-2A Redding, CA $6500

• CATEGORIES: CJ-2A • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Still Available.

(05/01/2017) Has a variety of updates. The top sure is tall in the back.

“1949 Willys Jeep,350 Chevy motor,Sm465 chevy trans,Dana 20 transfer case.Summers brothers one piece rear axles.Griffin radiator,HEI dist,mild rv cam,3.73 gears.33×12.50 Bfg mud terrains on black wheels.Auxiliary fuel tank,factory heater,Full roll cage.Chain drive clutch linkage.All conversion parts are from Advanced adapters.Title is free and clear.If interested please email me.May trade for a nice utv,rhino,teryx etc…thank you.. ”

https://redding.craigslist.org/cto/d/willys-flat-fender-jeep-trade/6264563996.html

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Kayline Top Dealer Poster on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features • TAGS: , .

This was probably a mid 1960s poster given the Tux Park featured at the top.

“THIS AUCTION IS FOR ONE ORIGINAL ,VERY LARGE WILLYS JEEP “KAYLINE TOPS FOR JEEPS” – “OUR BUSINESS IS TOPS” DEALER POSTER.

THE SIZE OF THE POSTER IS 36X23 INCHES APPROX.
DATING THE POSTER IS HARD BUT FROM THE PICTURES ON IT DATES IT FROM THE 60’S OR SO.
THE MAIN JEEP ON THE POSTER IS A NICE TUXEDO PARKER EDITION CJ5.

THE POSTER IS IN GREAT SHAPE WITH MINIMAL WEAR ON EDGES OR ON PRINT FROM BEING STORED ROLLED FOR MANY YEARS. IT HAS BRIGHT COLORS AND GRAPHICS. POSTER WILL SHIP ROLLED.”

View all the information on eBay

1975-kayline-tops-poster

 
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CJ-2A Soft Top Algonquin, IL $400

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Could be a good price.

“Selling a soft top fits a Jeep Willy 1946 CJ2A.Black including full soft door,poles and snaps. Good condition”

https://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/pts/6073103821.html

cj2a-softtop-chicago-il

 
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1959 CJ-5 Statesville, NC **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: CJ5 • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $850.

Craig spotted this one. Looks like there’s value here. I wonder if that top will clean up some.

“Howdie,
I am helping advertise a Willys for a friend. He has a clear title for the Jeep. Any questions you might have may take me a day to get back with you since I am the ‘middle man’. Anyhow, enjoy the pics and let me know if you have any questions.
Here is a bit more info: Jeep ran until he decided to park it. Put air in the tires & loaded the Jeep today (1/19). ‘Ready for travel to the new owner.’

This is a great Jeep for a restoration project for the collectors or for those rock crawlers!!!
$850. ‘No trades’ The owner is simply interested in cash. ”

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