Converting a soft top to factory hard top? - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old February 15th, 2009, 11:07 AM
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Darin Gardner
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Converting a soft top to factory hard top?

Can anyone give me some ideas on how I would go about converting a soft top Defender to a factory hard top? I am located on the West coast. I know the ECR can do this. Not sure if there is someone out here that could take on a the project? Perhaps I could source the the parts and get a qualified autobody shop to do the installation and paint match work? Thanks for any ideas.
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  #2  
Old February 15th, 2009, 11:12 AM
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Click on the "Soft Top to Station Wagon Conversion" link in my sig line - I've done this myself and it took about a weekend's worth of work to do the install. I bought the parts, prepped them myself, and then took them to the paint shop to be sprayed. Then the install is quite simple. Some body shop could definitely do the work but I'm sure they won't take the time to line it all up and get the doors closing properly etc.
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  #3  
Old February 15th, 2009, 11:33 AM
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Darin Gardner
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Thanks Jim. Great link. Very helpful. Do you mind me asking what the parts cost you? I am not familiar with RDS, your parts source? Who would be the best source for the factory parts? One more.... did the NAS ST have a factory roll cage and if so did you install one? Thanks.
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  #4  
Old February 15th, 2009, 11:55 AM
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It will cost you an arm, leg, nut and a kidney unless you find someone that wants to trade with you (SW for ST) and even then if they are not local you will be spending a bunch of money on shipping.

I noticed your bio said
"Rover: Looking for a D-90"

If you are still looking get the one that you want from the start. If you just purchased one and have not dropped too much money into it and have not become emotionally attached to it then trade it with someone looking for the style you have.
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Old February 15th, 2009, 11:57 AM
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I paid 1800 for the roof and sides, a couple hundred for the lift gate, and 1k for the used station wagon cage from a buddy that had installed a full-external cage. All NAS soft tops have a cage (which share no common parts with Station Wagon cages) so I removed the entire thing and put it in storage. There is a guy up in WA who keeps trying to sell a used station wagon top and cage on ebay for 7500 which is beyond stupid money. If you paid 4500 for the whole deal it would be an OK price - probably a bit in the seller's favor. Obviously you want to get the stuff for as little as possible, but availability is the main issue. RDS is Rovers Down South, and they're great, but probably won't have the SW cage. I think Stephen at Safari Rover is parting out a Station Wagon or two - see if you can buy all the parts needed in one group. When I did mine, I had the parts shipped from Louisiana to CA and it was about 500 bucks with Forward Air.
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  #6  
Old February 15th, 2009, 12:08 PM
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We have all the parts to convert a ST to a SW and I will trade even for liek condition parts. Meaning we send you all the SW parts (roof, suunroof, sides, rear door, roll cage, etc) and you send us your take off parts.

Its usually easier to just buy the one you want though due to costs of conversion (unless you already have the truck).

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  #7  
Old February 15th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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Darin Gardner
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Much Thanks for the advice and resources! I am still on the hunt for a White low mileage 97, but would really like to have a Black SW. Obviously, this would require a conversion. I purchased a 97 LE new and still regret selling it years ago. Looks like a good time to be a buyer as prices are coming down. If anyone knows of a clean low mileage (White) 97 under 50k miles I am buyer for $30k.
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  #8  
Old February 15th, 2009, 10:22 PM
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The easiest thing to do is make it like a POE, not a SW. You would need a ROW hard top, a liftgate, and the two short cage pieces (probably have to make them). It would not have the rollover protection of the SW cage, but it is a lot easier and you can switch back and forth from ST to POE relatively easily.

Ron
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  #9  
Old February 16th, 2009, 12:06 AM
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Andrew Najarian
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I'm curious, what is the difference between the NAS hardtop and the ROW hardtop? I know the cage differences and tailgate difference, with the POE, but I thought the top and sides were the same except for the sunroof...
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Old February 16th, 2009, 07:33 AM
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The top is the same, but on the POE, LR just bolted extensions to the Soft top cage and then just bolted that to the roof. The alignment is bad and it renders the roll cage purely cosmetic. A little looking about on ECR's website will reveal pix of the two set ups.

If I wanted a black wagon. I'd definitely just buy a black ST in nice shape and do the swap with Mike. The conversion works much better when you get all the parts in one go.
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  #11  
Old February 16th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Darin Gardner
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I live in Oregon so the conversion would be permanent. I may have found a black ST so I am trying to get a good Idea of the costs involved with a potential conversion.

Please humor the new guy with a few more questions....

1) 1997 SW came stock with a interior roll bar and this is something you want on a ST to SW conversion?

2) The front door windows on a ST are fixed(windows do not move) and would have to be changed out to a door/window unit from a SW?

3) What is the trade value of the ST parts to someone who would be interested in supplying the parts needed for a SW conversion?

4) From reading different threads it looks like there is a high demand for the ST Parts? Why?

Jim, are you referring to Mike from ECR?
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  #12  
Old February 16th, 2009, 04:24 PM
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George Kase
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Just for anyone interested, when I did my conversion to POE hardtop with the Euro Hard top, lift gate and so forth I also had a CAD drawing made of the front roll cage extensions in case you wanted to have a pair made up...just got to find the file somewhere on my computer though... also, having previously owned an original factory POE, I think my POE converted HT is aesthetically and functionally identical (except for the lift gate-swing gate seal...haven't figured that out to my satisfaction yet)
George
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  #13  
Old February 16th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daringer
1) 1997 SW came stock with a interior roll bar and this is something you want on a ST to SW conversion?
SW and ST cages are diffrent, you will need the cage that is made for ST or SW as they are not the same. Unless you want to go euro style and skip the cage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daringer
2) The front door windows on a ST are fixed(windows do not move) and would have to be changed out to a door/window unit from a SW?
ST and SW doors will both work, just decide what door style you like best.
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  #14  
Old February 16th, 2009, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gkase
Just for anyone interested, when I did my conversion to POE hardtop with the Euro Hard top, lift gate and so forth I also had a CAD drawing made of the front roll cage extensions in case you wanted to have a pair made up...just got to find the file somewhere on my computer though... also, having previously owned an original factory POE, I think my POE converted HT is aesthetically and functionally identical (except for the lift gate-swing gate seal...haven't figured that out to my satisfaction yet)
George
I would like it. I would like to have a few sets made. I need two sets just for me.
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  #15  
Old February 16th, 2009, 05:16 PM
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Ron,
I'll dig it out and send it to you...one caution, I never had a set made from the drawings cause I didn't need them...I measured very carefully and my buddy who is a pro at Autocad did the drawing...so should work
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  #16  
Old February 16th, 2009, 05:26 PM
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Sweet, thanks.

evilfij at yahoo dot com
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  #17  
Old February 16th, 2009, 05:40 PM
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Hey Darin- Yeah, I meant ECR Mike.

ST parts are in demand because they were (effectively) NAS-only and seem to be NLA. They were expensive new, and have only remained that way since trucks burn up, people tear up their cages, etc.

The interior cage hoop on both the 95 and 97 trucks is the set up you want. That way your roll cage is tied in both internally and externally and will actually provide some protection in the event of a roll over.

Roll-up doors are in good supply right now. Call a couple vendors and you should be able to line up a pair for around 1200 dollars. They are new 07+ spec doors - very nice.
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  #18  
Old February 16th, 2009, 07:09 PM
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Darin Gardner
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Thanks to all for the input. Any comments on the third question? I doubt once I convert to SW I would go back ST. Given the suggested expense, if would be great to recoup as much as possible on the trade parts.

3) What is the trade value of the ST parts to someone who would be interested in supplying the parts needed for a SW conversion?

Best resource for these parts are... ECR, RDS, Safari Rover....any others?
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  #19  
Old February 16th, 2009, 07:20 PM
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The best deal is a one-for-one trade. Other than that, there is no "best" source since different places will have different stuff at different times. RN will always be happy to sell you new-in-box parts for typical dealer money.
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  #20  
Old February 16th, 2009, 07:30 PM
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I disagree with JimC. Do the POE top and save the ST cage parts. Resale will be hurt if you cannot put it back to factory and the full SW conversion is time consuming.
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