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Ragtop

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on October 27, 2004 Comment (0)
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Ragtop

This one was so easy it was almost like cheating. We went the simple route and focused on products that were completely bolt-on and that improved our rig's functionality, comfort, and safety for open-air wheeling.

The '84-'89 Toyota 4Runner trucks are disgustingly popular and make quite a cool trail vehicle. Unfortunately, the tops are made of fiberglass, so they don't respond too well to encounters with tree branches or rocks, and the side windows are expensive to replace if you nail one on the trail. Plus, the top is somewhat heavy, and cumbersome to remove by yourself.

We had an '85 with the factory hardtop, ripped and torn factory seats, and only the factory rear bar. The goals were to replace the factory top with something that was easily removable and that didn't compromise highway driving, recover or replace the factory seats, and provide an added measure of safety for the driver and passengers in the form of a rollcage.

Rollcage
Factory 4Runners came with a hoop in the cargo area to protect rear passengers in a rollover. However, we've seen what can happen during a rollover and we wanted more protection. A few companies make bolt-in cages for Toyota pickups, but All Pro Off Road offers the only complete, truly bolt-in cage we know of for 4Runners.

The All Pro cage is offered in two versions. You can buy just the front cage kit, which fits both '79-'95 pickups and 4Runners, or you can also buy the rear cage kit, which replaces the factory rear hoop. It's not a bolt-on option, but you can also run bars from the front cage to the factory hoop if you don't want to buy the rear cage kit.

The All Pro cage is made of 1.5-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing, which is 80 percent stronger than welded seam. The only fitment issue we found is that the rear seat bottoms hit the downbars when folded forward. The cage doesn't rattle, it clears the headliner, dash, and all switches, and still allows the use of the roll-up windows.

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Can-Back Soft Top
Can-Back offers tops for so many pickups and SUVs that it's impossible to list them all in the space we have here. Plus, if you can't find your application, Can-Back will custom-build one for your vehicle or modify an existing kit to fit. For example, if you've bobbed your 4Runner, Can-Back will build a shorter kit for you.

Can-Back offers both Pachyderm (steel frame) and Can-Back (stainless steel frame) tops in a number of fabric colors with or without side or rear windows.

We ordered a stainless Can-Back with black fabric and side and rear windows.The kit arrived packaged like it was about to be air-dropped into a war zone. High-quality, to say the least. The instructions are super-easy to follow and include pictures, so you can't goof it up. The Toyota kit is a total bolt-on and only took about 25 minutes once the old top was removed.

We've found ours to be waterproof even in really heavy rains, easy to take on and off, and surprisingly quiet on the highway. Even at 80 mph, it doesn't flap with the sides up or down. The sides and back roll up quickly, which is really nice for trail driving or reaching in from the side to get at things in the back. Anyone want to buy an '85 4Runner hardtop?

Seats
Our factory buckets were ripped and rotted with worn springs that offered absolutely no support. Topless wheeling means an increased chance of getting interior components wet, so we needed to either cover our factory seats to keep the foam from getting wet and rotting further, or replace them. After looking into what it would cost to rebuild and recover our extremely uncomfortable factory units, we happily settled on a pair of replacement seats from Corbeau.

Corbeau has a wide variety of seats ranging from simple to extravagant. We chose a pair of Sport Seats covered in weather-friendly black vinyl. The Sport Seats recline all the way back and have a flip-forward feature on both the passenger and driver seats. The injection-molded foam felt really stiff at first (we'll call it European-sporty) but the seats broke in a bit after a few hundred miles.

The nicest part is that Corbeau offers one of the best selections of installation brackets we've seen. Ours mounted right up to the holes for the factory bench seat (Toyotas have both bolt patterns in the floor) and have adjustment sliders for both driver and passenger.

Sources

All Pro Off Road
Hemet, CA 92543
www.allprooffroad.com
Corbeau
Sandy, UT 84070
801-255-3737
http://www.corbeau.com

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