I built my own hardtop on a Jeep TJ. Lighter and Cheaper - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 7 Old 08-05-2020, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Hello everyone,
This post is for all the old farts out there who said it wasn’t possible. That it couldn’t be done. That there wasn’t a way to build your own top that was lighter and cheaper than a factory top. Well I’ve done it. I cracked the code and maybe this post will give someone the inspiration to do the same. This top isn’t perfect. It was my first time working with fiberglass but it’s waterproof, deadens road noise, and looks pretty cool so I’m happy w it.

We all know hardtops are pretty expensive, up to $1500 for one in my area. I’ve had the idea to build my own for a couple years now and with Covid I had the time.

I started by using the piece of metal that attaches a soft top to the windshield from an old bikini top I had. I then built a plywood frame around it and also used the plastic door things from the soft top so that I could still use my doors. From there I used a combination of wire mesh and expanding spray foam to create a surface that I could fiberglass on (this part sucked, I hate fiberglass). I used body filler to smooth the fiberglass and then painted it with a special paint that I later sprayed rhino liner over. The windows I got from a van down at pull-a-part. I built frames for them and caulked them in and handmade some wire brackets to hold them in place. Same for the back hatch window. I bought a big square of turf from a guy on Facebook and used that as my headliner. This did add an unnecessary weight, but I really liked how it turned out so I didn’t really mind.

To keep costs down I sourced my fiberglass mat from Facebook also. I then resold the roll of glass after I had used what I needed so that really kept costs down. I don’t have any fancy tools I cut everything with a jigsaw. By doing all this I spent just under $400 for the whole project. The weight before the windows and turf was 79 pounds. I would guess that the windows and turf added ~40 pounds bringing the weight to around 120. A factory tj top weighs 145 according to other posts on this website.

The top deadens road noise by a lot. My Jeep has a loud exhaust and big tires but with the top it’s like driving a whole different car. I’m really happy with how it turned out and if you’re thinking about building one then go for it. There’s not a lot of info online about this so hopefully this will help someone out. If you have any questions email me: [email protected].

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post #2 of 7 Old 08-05-2020, 12:22 PM
Web Wheeler
2004 LJ Wrangler 
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Location: Rhinelander
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Cool project. I bet you learned a lot!

Building the right way for 37s.
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post #3 of 7 Old 08-07-2020, 04:31 PM
I miss the snow...
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2004 LJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Nashville
Posts: 4,319
Great work. Always good to try and tackle something you’ve not done before.

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post #4 of 7 Old 08-09-2020, 11:36 AM
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
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thats really cool looking! i love the grass on the interior! why did you go for that?

n o m a d

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post #5 of 7 Old 08-09-2020, 12:46 PM
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1987 YJ Wrangler 
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I love anything that anybody creates and fabricates with their own hands. The cruder the better....

That is really creative and well done and more importantly it got finished.

What I like better is in the summer months when it cab be off, I could turn it upside down and practice my putting. That is what separates me from tour players. JS> LOL.

If you cannot fix it with a hammer then it has to be an electrical problem.
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post #6 of 7 Old 08-20-2020, 09:17 AM
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Man, I need to do something similar
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-01-2020, 08:29 AM
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1992 YJ Wrangler 
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Great job. Looks really good, and as mentioned I am sure you learned a lot.
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