Originally Posted by Marauder_Pilot
Jeep doesn't build their own soft tops. I can't remember who does build them-Bestop did for the longest time, but I believe they went with someone else for the JK.
The problem is that the JK-8's design doesn't lend itself well to mounting a soft top. Since it's a single-hoop rollbar, there's really no space between the rollbar and the inside of the cab to put the mounting hooks and such. Additionally, the rear bulkhead isn't straight, it's more of a half-pentagon shape, which makes designing a soft top to cover down to it kind of a pain.
Not saying it couldn't be done by any means, but the JK-8 kit was already a bit of a gamble for Jeep, so they probably didn't want to invest any more money than necessary to design it, and designing a soft top that would work with the JK-8 kit that meets OEM specs probably just isn't economically feasible right now-same reason that AEV hasn't made soft tops for Brutes yet (A halfcab soft top works OK for a TJ Brute, but it's not OEM quality or spec)
Good point about Chrysler. It'd be a total money waster for them unless the JK8 actually became a production run vehicle like the 4 door is to the 2 door. I was just wondering if anyone aftermarket-wise had done it. Even as a custom "one-off" type of project.
Also, when I say ragtop I don't mean in the typical Jeep sense of having the skeleton and it folding back. I meant more along the lines of using the cage and strapping the soft top to it. Kind of like the "Trektop NX" design or whatever it's called. Then when you want it off you just fold it up and throw it behind the seat. Much like the old Deuces did. The frame stayed in place, but the top could be taken off, not dropped. Just thought it'd be a nice looking ride, with more flexibility that might appeal to the "sun and fun" crowd.
Hmmm....I wonder about an after market company making a kit that can incorporate the stock Freedom Panels? That might be an easier nut to crack. Especially since the front portion of the hardware is all there. All you'd need to do is make the current roof design a back/sidewall that incorporates places for the panels to secure with their already existing mechanisms.
You're right, though. Since it's not truly a pick-up design with separate tub and cab it might making mounting even the snap-rail more of a pain then it's worth in the case of a real soft top.
Still, I think if Jeep were smart they'd actually do a JK8 as a model instead of a kit. Separate cab and bed on the JKU frame. With the Ranger out of the scene for a bit the time to wade back into the small pick up market is definitely now, imo. Keep the JK front clip. Keep the outside hinges, removable doors, lights, grill, bumper, fenders (available in matching paint on higher trim levels), model trim packages, and anything else. I think there is a definite hole left in the market with the Ranger's hiatus, and I also think that by keeping the platform built straight off the JK it will not only cut down costs, tooling, design time, and all other aspects. It'll also capitalize on the utilitarian styling that was the hallmark of the Jeep brand and is still something that has a place in this culture. Jmo, of course.
Good info on the different aftermarket kits, thanks. It's something I wouldn't do to my JK, but if I had the cash to have more then one vehicle you can bet that I'd have me a JK8. As it is I'm trying to talk my girl out of her planned purchase of a Patriot in the spring and into a JKU.