Just picked up a 98 TJ with 66K miles, and it came with some sort of half top and half tonneau cover. I'm not a huge fan of it, and I'd like to step up to a full top for when it rains here in WI.
Browsing ebay, there's a few options for relatively inexpensive ($500 or so) brand new tops with hardware, but what do I need to know to make a good top buying decision? Is there an archived post with a bunch of top information. Good and bad manufacturers?
The more information I can get, the better. I'm still getting used to this site as I'm used to one about a tenth of this size.
welcome to the forum and congrats on your purchase. going with a stock setup might be good, you can usually get a used setup off craigslist fairly cheap and then just upgrade the fabric and windows as needed. or get the best deal you can on a bestop supertop or a top like that. i have only ever had a stock top on mine but my dad loves his supertop. i have no experience with the sunriders, maybe some guys can give their thoughts on those.
I recommend you look for a used "factory" soft top. Any year, 1997-2006 will fit your '98 TJ. I was advised by my local jeep club members that the factory frame and hardware is better than the aftermarket tops that claim to include everything you need.
The Bestop brand "SuperTop" is advertised for folks who need all the hardware. I've never owned one, but was told by club members who went that route...they wished they had the factory frame and windshield clamp, etc.
I bought a jeep with only a factory hardtop. By browsing on internet sites for jeep clubs near my home town, I found a '03 factory top, complete with frame and everything I'd need...$350. It was basically brand new. The owner always kept his hardtop installed. I wanted a new condition top, so I looked for several months before I found one close to home. It fits great on my '98 TJ.
Just to let you know, if you are new to all this. The company called "Bestop" is the supplier for original jeep factory soft tops. They sell a replacement canvas kit called "replace-a-top" (RAT). But you have to have the factory tube frame, door surrounds, windshield clamp piece. This product is different than their "SuperTop". So if you bought a used factory top that included the frame, etc. and was cheap but worn out, you can still purchase new canvas for it.
steve in central florida
'98 TJ wrangler sport.....gunmetal blue
XJ d30/rubicon TJ d44...33's with popular suspension mods
I had a Supertop breifly i.e. the one which comes with its own non-stock frame and is for those who did not have the softtop hardware (surrounds, header, frame, etc). While it worked I wasn't impressed. The top was fine but the frame was definitely not nearly as nice as the stock setup, actually it sucks, as its VERY flimsy. So I would go stock over a Supertop if possible.
The Stock top will require the frame, Door Surrounds, header, tailgate bar, etc. So make sure if you buy one you get everything you need. Little things like the Door surrounds will run $100/pr used and tailgate bar ~$50 used if you have to buy them separately, so keep that in mind.
I have the Rampage Fastback top and like it. You do need the factory soft top surrounds and tailgate bar to run it. I got mine for a great price but they've been backordered for awhile. That's just another option although I'd prefer a like new stock top to my Rampage Fastback as it looks a tad aggressive for me.
Personally I'd go stock top.
And whatever you do stay away from the no-name cheapies on eBay....
i have the bestop supertop with full doors and i love it. I only use it for the warm months i use a hardtop for the cold month. The hardware is not as good as the factory but when you buy it everything is included so there is no chasing parts down. its easy to put up & down
Does the top you have completly seal off the cab? What color is it? I have a less than 2mo old top that I might be willing to trade, you would have to get factory hardware though.
That's my top without the rear window zipped up and without the rear tonneau cover on. I have the half doors with upper cloth. I believe the color is tan, but I've seen so many versions of the color tan I dont know what it's called.
Might consider a trade; gotta weigh my options for a full top. I'll be checking craigslist for sure.