Opinions on fabbing an aluminum hard top - Defender Source
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Old January 19th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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Amit Likhyani
95 D90 Soft Top Estoril Blue 6.2 LS
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 470
Opinions on fabbing an aluminum hard top

I live in Austin, TX and have a '97 soft top. I have no roof between 7 and 10 months of the year just depending. I currently use a fiberglass hard top for our mild winters. The fiberglass roof is really showing it's age. I understand ECR does make an aluminum hard top that requires a new roll cage. I am sure they do phenomenal work but I would be looking at shipping the truck twice and not having use of it for quite some time. I was wondering if it would be possible to fab an aluminum version of the fiberglass hard top with the following improvements:

1) the side and rear corner piece could be made into one on both sides.
2) I could use the sliding glass window on the sides.
3) I could have a sun roof in the roof portion
4) I could incorporate a gutter system to hold the sliding doors tighter.
5) I could have bosses in the side and rear corner pieces instead of worrying about those stupid rectangular washers.
6) I can re-use my seal kit(or have a source from the factory for new seals) and factory roll cage.

I have access to a phenomenal metal shop. Look at the following directory: http://www.prismnet.com/~amit/Defender/ focusing in pictures: 35 to 50 to get an idea of some of the work he has done. Of note: I no longer have the hi-lift jack in the truck. I got the SG rear tire carrier.

Is building aluminum versions of the fiberglass top pieces a good approach? Or is starting over just so much better and I either swap roll cages every time I take the roof on and off or just leave the modified roll cage intact at all times?

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Old January 19th, 2008, 01:58 PM
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1966 S2a 88" | 2006 LR3
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Caldwell, NJ
Posts: 1,050
Isn't the POE top aluminum? That may be a good place to start for some design ideas..

1966 Series IIa "Olive"
2001 Discovery II
2006 LR3 HSE7

Past: 1994 Defender 90 #416, 2001 Discovery II
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Old January 19th, 2008, 03:28 PM
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Kevin Buckley
1973 coiler
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Guilderland,NY
Posts: 1,462
I'd just get a quality soft top from Badger.
'73 SeriesIII coiler,"The Goat", Daihatsu 2.8TD,Santana,Ashcroft,ARB's,etc., now SOLD
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Old January 19th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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Jim Cheney
NAS 110 #145
Site Team
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Posts: 7,115
I've ranted about the idea of fitting an aluminum top over a soft top cage before, and that material is available with a quick search here, so I see no reason to piss in your cornflakes here. I see custom fab as the only possible way to achieve this.

If you do it, you'll be the first. Hopefully it will be an aesthetically pleasing result.

My recommendation - buy a roof and the cage that Matt Brown is selling right now and be done with it. You'll be able to swap between soft top cage and station wagon roof many times for the amount of time you'll have into fabbing an aluminum replacement for the hardtop.
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