Soft-Top Research Archives

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Flatfender Soft Top Carver, MN **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $350.

Looks like a good price. It’s likely a Bestop.

flattie-softop-carver-mn

“Black soft top for the early jeeps, like new. I bought this jeep from an old man, and I am certain it never spent a night outside. the windows are clear and not faded, no imperfections anywhere, Its like new. You get all the hardware to mount it just like it looks in the photo. Its on an m38 now, not sure what else it fits, you do the research. I see these go for about a grand on line, 350 come get it ! I do not respond to texts. I repeat.. I do not respond to texts. Wheels and tires available soon”

 
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1962 Article on a CJ-5 Build

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: , , , .

This May 1962 article in Four Wheeler magazine highlighted a few things. First, it’s a really clean build. I wish the pics were in color, as it’s deserving of some great photos.

Second, if I understand correctly, the rear bumper is actually a gas tank. I’m not sure I like that plan so much.

Third, given this jeep is near Colorado Springs, it probably has the Thor Electro-matic hubs, which allow a push button engaging of the front hubs. And, because they are short hubs, the front wheel covers can be placed over them.

Fourth, this has an early vacuum brake assist. Herm carries a newer version of this.

Fifth, the White top on this jeep is beautifully styled in my opinion.

Photos

 
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1960s Harris Manufacturing Top and Doors

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

UPDATE: The October 1962 issue of Four Wheeler Magazine included an ad for the Harris top and doors, along with an article.

1962-10-fourwheelermag-dura-harris-article-lores 1962-10-fourwheelermag-dura-harris-ad

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Originally Posted October 07, 2017: Here’s a rare Harris Dura-Door one-page brochure on eBay. This fiberglass half door produced out of Bakersfield, California, for CJ-5s was also advertised in Four Wheel Magazine (see ad at bottom).

1960s-harris-dura-door-brochure1 1960s-harris-dura-door-brochure2

This ad appeared in several Four Wheeler issues, including the June 1966 issue. I’d have to guess that by 1966, Harris had dropped its soft top product and focused on the dura-doors for jeeps.

1966-06-fourwheeler-dura-doors

 
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CJ-6 Full Soft Top Tucson, AZ $5500

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

This looks to be a Bestop.

https://tucson.craigslist.org/pts/d/tucson-willys-jeep-cj6-full-soft-top/7297054801.html

“new soft top full top with doors for Willys cj-6”

cj6-softtop-tucson-az

 
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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/7278137833.html

The top bows are $700 a set. A price for the top clips were not included. Both the both bows and the clips are for the DJ-3A convertible model (solid back and CJ-3B-like windshield with twist-knobs across the top). 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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CJ-3A Soft Top Lebanon, OR $500

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Seems a good price.

https://corvallis.craigslist.org/pts/d/lebanon-cj-jeep-soft-top/7262980264.html

“I have a brand new soft top for a CJ3a Tigertop from Bestop.
It’s never been mounted. I got it before this summer.
Bestop Tigertop Item#5140401 retail for $979.99
This is New.”

besttop-lebanon-or1 besttop-lebanon-or2 besttop-lebanon-or3

 
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CJ-3A Soft Top Oceanside, CA $500

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Seems a good price.

https://sandiego.craigslist.org/nsd/pts/d/oceanside-jeep-soft-top/7266831287.html

“Purchased in 2016, never used, includes Installation instructions/Owner Manual
For Model CJ3A, 1949-1953”

cj3a-tiger-top-oceanside-ca

 
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Whitco CJ-5 Softtop Boots Cedar Township, PA $250/each

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Not sure about the price on these, but I doubt there are many of these around.

https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/pts/d/oem-jeep-soft-top-boots-whitco-willys/7227271346.html

“OEM Jeep Special Equipment Soft Top Boots
Red, White or Blue
Vintage Whitco Items from a Closed Willys / Kaiser Dealership
$250 Each”

whitco-softtop-boots1 whitco-softtop-boots2

 
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1952 CJ-3A APU Portland, OR $6700

• CATEGORIES: CJ-3A • TAGS: , .

UPDATE: Price dropped to $6700. It’s a Szekely APU jeep.

(09/30/2018) 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/wsc/cto/d/beaverton-jeep-willys-cj3a/7172184334.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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1949 CJ-3A? Las Vegas, NV **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: CJ-3A • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $8500.

(02/08/2020) I would guess the body is a replacement body. The front roll cage loop rests atop the step. I hope there’s something connected to the frame underneath the step. The soft top looks custom and doesn’t use the windshield channel. It kind of looks like it snaps on the front? No description provided.

1949-cj3a-lv-nv6 1949-cj3a-lv-nv7 1949-cj3a-lv-nv8

 
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Unused Bestop For MB/GPW/CJ-2A Kalispell, MT $500

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Could be a good price. You’ll want to verify how the front of the top mounts to the windshield [channel mount (3A or M-38) or twist fobs (MB/GPW or CJ-2A … yeah, I know that’s not the right name for them, just can’t think of the right name at the moment)]. The top is resting on a CJ-5, but that’s just for show.

https://kalispell.craigslist.org/pts/d/kalispell-cj2a-mb-jeep-soft-top/7136007623.html

new-besttop-kalispell-mt1 new-besttop-kalispell-mt2

“Best Top for Jeep CJ2A 1945 to 1949 and MB 1941 to 1945 with bows. This is a top I received with a 1948 CJ2A that I am restoring and chose not to put a top on it. It is a new top that has not been installed, in new condition. Have the original installation instructions and owners manual, both soft doors, bows, bag of parts. We displayed this topper on our Jeep (which does not fit) for pictures only. Any questions please email.”

 
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Kayline Soft Top and Cab Enclosure Hardtop Stayton, OR Make Offer

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: , .

TJ shared Therese. The seller listed these at $100, but it sounds like that is just a place holder. Seller is really looking for offers.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/246167143348842

“I’ve got an arctic top off a 47 cj2a and a Kayline soft top. The Arctic top has been on the Jeep for many years just sitting in a barn. Pretty dirty and definitely needs paint, but structurally sound. The Kayline top I just got for the Jeep, as I am starting to fix it up, but it is not going to fit the full roll cage that I’m using. Seems to be in decent shape, just needs to be cleaned. Honestly, I’m not really sure what to ask for these tops, so if you’re interested, just make me an offer.”

tops-stayton-or1 tops-stayton-or2

 
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CJ-2A Soft-top New Fairfield, CT **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $300.

It’s a good price on an older soft top. Looks like it requires a 3A/M-38 windshield with the channel.

“This top came off of a Willys CJ2A. This is an older style with no tears or rips. Everything is here including all mounting hardware, brackets, snaps and doors. Please email with contact information and I will get back to you.”

cj2a-softtop-ct

 
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CJ-3B Soft Top Albany, OR $300

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

Could be a good price.

https://eugene.craigslist.org/pts/d/albany-willys-cj3b-soft-top-with-doors/7026567455.html

“This top came off my 1953 cj3b. It’s in good shape. Comes with the top doors and frame work. In the pictures the top is just laying on the frame. It needs to be snapped in to be tight.
I am not going to use it for my cj3b”

cj3b-softtop-albany-or1 cj3b-softtop-albany-or2

 

 
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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.”

Here’s a look at some early brochures. Note the “Vinalette” top, an attempt at branding that didn’t last very long. These brochures are likely mid to late 1950s (these pics came from this eBay auction):

1956-bestop-brochures1 1956-bestop-brochures2 1956-bestop-brochures0

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 **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $100.

Never used. Could be a great price.

“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.”

1951-cj3a-gp-or1 1951-cj3a-gp-or2 1951-cj3a-gp-or3 1951-cj3a-gp-or4

 
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Original(?) CJ-2A Canvas Top Waterbury, VT **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Price dropped to $1200.

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

“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 **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Parts • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $150.

Worth a look at that price.

“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.”

1947-cj2a-amherst-ny1 1947-cj2a-amherst-ny2 1947-cj2a-amherst-ny3 1947-cj2a-amherst-ny4

 
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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