hard top vs soft top ...

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Mar 31, 2009
eureka, humboldt county ca.
recently got myself a project of a 68 fj40. still have lots of things to work out, but as i live in northern california on the coast i need a top. may need doors to. the question is is it really worth it to get a hard top ( i think so if i can find one ) or should i get one of those soft top deals. not sure how well they work, but i am sure it is better than nothing ...

any who, any input would be good.
how well a soft top works depends on the type of top.

I love my FST
johnnyc correct2.jpg
recently got myself a project of a 68 fj40. still have lots of things to work out, but as i live in northern california on the coast i need a top. may need doors to. the question is is it really worth it to get a hard top ( i think so if i can find one ) or should i get one of those soft top deals. not sure how well they work, but i am sure it is better than nothing ...

any who, any input would be good.

I'll throw out my opinion....I'm sure there are many who will disagree.

First some things to consider.

What's your garage situation? If the truck sits out, the soft-top will deterioriate over time much faster than a hard-top.

If you are fond of open air driving, removal of the hard-top is not a trivial event. It take some muscle to get it off, so removal tends to be a 'seasonal' thing. Storage of a hard top can be a problem too, when it's off the truck.

Noise is a factor as you will get some rattles or at least notice them more since you will be in a 'tin box' and the drive train noises will resonate inside this box. A soft top is noisy too, but different...wind noise and some flapping of the cloth, etc.

Having owned several converts over the year, I'd say top-down driving is a bit over rated. If it's hot you'll get cooked, wind burnt, etc. with the top off. If it gets wet a lot where you live, you could put the soft top back up, as you can carry it with you. Not true with a HT.

My guess is that a good soft-top and bows will cost about the same as a used hard-top whith all the repairs made and refinished...my estimate is $700. -1K

There are probably many more thoughts on this, but for me I'll settle for the HT and open the windows. The bottom line is if you favor top down driving...get a soft top. If you want weather protection and a little more security, get a hard-top.:cheers:
I have a jeep in Big Sky Montana took the hard top off and haven't put it back on since...I have a garage and my heat works good. The Bestop seals and works really good and I drive that truck in the dead of Winter at 9k ft. at night/rain/snow etc. and have no problems with the cold or water getting in.

On my 40, I can't believe I waited 9 months to take my hard top off. I think my hard top actually leaked worse than my newer soft top since there were some old rivet spots and small gaps that leaked a little air/water and mine was a really nice hard top. I would guess that if your really wanted a stellar, all repaired hard top, new tub gaskets, locks, good gutters, and decent paint job you are looking at a pretty penny. Plus the hard top weighs a s*** ton and the truck will drive better and much more fun without it. Personally, I think I would just go ahead and buy a 60 if I had to put my hard top back on...but that's just me. Doors I would definitely reccomend though. If you go with the soft top buy a heater restore kit for $30 and you should have good heat.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I have a Ehsan soft top for my 40 and love it. Can't go wrong with one of those.
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I have a hard top and live in northern Michigan. I occasionally take it off in the summer but it is a PITA to take on and off. besttops and other Heep tops work fine but IMO look terrible on cruisers. Currently I'm sticking with my hard top but when I get the chance I will get a Paki or other oem style reproduction soft top for the summers.
I'm in the same boat as you....considering a switch from hard top to soft. I was told that Best top will not be around in the future. Does anyone know if they are going out of business?
Cruising the redwoods and the northern CA coast you really should have a soft top - there is just nothing like cruising the redwood highway and the lost coast with the top down.

On the other hand, if you are going to be exploring the backroads of humboldt county, you really need a hardtop with bulletproof armor to protect against the angry, um, "farmers" you will encounter.
Ah, the Redwoods - brings back memories of jumping my '81 Toyota Pickup in the sand dunes on Clam beach in the middle of the night.....good times (bone-jarring), but good.

Yes, as crushr says, you may need some kevlar to protect yourself from the "keepers of the agriculture"....
I personally like both. I don't have a garage, and live in NorCal, and where my home is, the summer sun gets intense (will ruin a tarp in a season) and in the winter, days can start sunny, and end in rain that'll wash down a tree onto the roadbed, basically, I have to be one of the many here on Mud who advocate swithing seasonally.
I love the idea of a soft top, or bikini top, ever since my uncle took me for a ride in his old CJ5 when I was 8, but having grown up around chevy trucks with camper shells, I like the utility of a hard top when necessary. It's your choice, and I really can't say either's a bad one.
if you spend time and effort removing your hard-top once a year, you WILL appreciate a soft-top...

paki/OEM style tops ROCK :D
My truck came with brand new Bestop Supertop and soft doors. About $1200. I think. It's actually pretty good. Seals out most of the water, about as noisy as 1978 convertible and pretty warm in the cold down to well below freezing. I am not fond of the Jeepy look, but my hard doors will help cure that.

If you are starting a rebuild start searching threads concerning the OEM reprobuctions like Ehsan and the Softtopguy. There is nothing like the look of an OEM top.
thanks for the input. the prob is as allot of you seem to have pointed out, is the weather around here is unpredictable. lived here all my life, so not to worried about the farmers ... seriously though, i love having the top down, just not a viable option in the winter, or some summer days.

anywho, thanks for the input. i am sure i'll have lots more questions as i restore this beast.
soft top

Well for me since the 40 is a toy ---the soft top

Kids love it
makes you want to take it out and drive it
a little less weight and top heaviness

In the UK a lot of old rovers roaming around with soft tops so I plan to get some advice from some of those old school guys there. I am thinking with all the rain there that maintenance is the key

prolly things like rubbing down the seams with candles and a waterproofing solution every fall and so on

so I guess Soft Top for fun and Hard Top for practical
I've got a bikini top for the summer and Hard Top for the fall and winter. I've got caught in summer storms before with just the bikini top that made for an exciting ride. I just don't like the look of any of the newer soft tops. They are too jeep looking for my taste.
I'd say this depends on your driving intentions and climate. Wheeling with a full soft top can be hard on windows especially in the winter, they get scratched and broken easily when cold. Hardtop is a great all around top, looks cool and holds the FJ-40 styling well. I run a soft top but my truck is a toy and not daily driven less erands around town. I'd run a hardtop year round but my tub is too far out of wack to support the top in proper alignment. I'll be aquiring another tub soon and will most likely run the hardtop year round afterward. In the summer taking off the doors is enough ventilation for me.
After living in Arcata and Eureak for 7 years with a heep and a best top soft top, the mold smell was very annoying and the plastic just did not hold up well to the abuse of the rain and the grit.

I would say that a hard top is your only option.
well i thought i had replied a few days ago evening that i posted this. mmm, oops? any how, thank you all for your input. i like the open top driving but the practicality isn't really that good. guess i have to weigh the options, but since i don't garage my vehicle probably soft top isn't a good idea. hehe, now i get to try and actually find a hard top. :p

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