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Rally Tops Makes a Great Hard Top for Your Jeep

From CJs to JKs, Rally Tops has a hardtop that fits like a glove and looks like a million.

Jim BrightlyPhotographer, Writer

While driving a 2005 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited from the dealership in New Hampshire where it was purchased as a "used" vehicle to our place of residence in Arizona, we had many hours to contemplate the future of this new-to-us Jeep TJ Wrangler. We wanted this rig in a bad way because it's the first of the "Rubicon" Unlimited (two-door, longer wheelbase) models with the Dana 44s front and rear, but it's not a JK with almost everything under the sun run by a computer. Even though it's not brand new, it has been for the most part unmolested and was in excellent condition.

We discovered on the drive to Arizona that while a factory soft top—even a 10-year-old one—can do a lot to keep the weather out (and a 2,500-mile trip across the United States in November will bring many different types of weather), it can't keep road and wind noise out. With the cruise control set at the speed limit, we were able to hear the radio but not enjoy it, and we were forced to holler to be heard. We like conversation, listening to books on CD, and music while traveling. The soft top had to be replaced.

The first stop after we got home was the local Jeep dealership to check on the price for a factory hardtop. What a shock! The ballpark figurewas $3,000. We couldn't get an exact number because the counter clerk didn't want to look up the prices for each individual component and told us there isn't a part number for a complete top. That sent me to the Internet, where I found Rally Tops in Gardena, California.

Just up the block from Shelby American's assembly plant, Rally Tops' small facility houses some masters of their respective professions. We found in-house design, fiberglass fabrication, painting—the works. Jerry Mancini, owner of Rally Tops, designs and build one-piece fiberglass hardtops for all models of Jeeps from the CJ-5 all the way up to the '15 Wrangler four-door models, including Scramblers.

OEM tops for Jeeps with optional hardtops are multi-pieced tops. You'll notice grooves down both sides of the OEM tops where the pieces are glued together. Rally Tops' hardtops are one piece. This makes them stronger and lighter than their OEM counterparts. Rally Tops' product is also fully insulated inside with carpeting, something the OEM tops don't have.

The option list for Rally Tops' hardtops includes a sunroof, roof rack, and sliding side windows. As far as I know, the only option on an OEM top is a rear wiper, and OEM tops have never included sliding side windows. You can also order half hard doors with soft uppers from Rally Tops.

The full-length top for our '05 Rubicon Unlimited weighed just 138 pounds and cost about $2,000. That includes the roof rack (150-pound capacity) and sliding side windows. Because of the Arizona sun, we didn't opt for the sunroof. Although other colors are available, we chose black to stay as close to OEM colors as I could.

Believe us, the trip home from Southern California was much more comfortable than the trip to SoCal. We were able to listen to the radio without it blasting out the speakers, and we could speak in normal voices and hear each other, even at 75 mph. We did, however, notice a wind hum from the roof rack. The heavy tint on the windows kept headlights behind us from blinding the driver, and headroom in the Rally Top hardtop is more than enough, even with the Buchanan 1 1/2-inch seat risers in place.

The '05 Rubicon Unlimited with the Rally Tops black hardtop stays warmer and quieter and offers greater security for valuable items inside your Jeep than the OEM soft top.

There is no lock or handle on the rear window of the Rally Top hardtop. The rear window is secured by the lockable tailgate.

The 10-year-old OEM soft top had faded, the windows were permanently fogged, and the zippers were very difficult to use. It was noisy too!

Ramon Castillon (left) and Jessie Contreras remove the soft top at the Rally Tops shop.

With the zippers on their last legs and the windows fogged, the old top was dumped.

The only thing we saved were the plastic door surrounds in case we decide to buy another soft top in the next few years.

Jessie and Ramon make sure the Jeep was clean and ready to accept the new hardtop.

Rally Tops warns against lifting its hardtop by the roof rack. The roof rack is designed to hold 150 pounds on the roof, not to hold the weight of the top.

The new top is lifted and carried to the awaiting Jeep.

Fitment is checked on the front and rear of the Rally top before final attachment.

The front of the Rally Top needs to be settled into place before the top could be bolted down.

In front the top is secured to the windshield frame with factory-like clamps. The orange U-bracket is for the windshield's tie-down strap.

A piece of scrap from the production process shows the double-layer fiberglass (for strength and light weight) and glued-in carpet layer (for sound and temperature insulation).

Mancini checks our Jeep's appearance and the Rally Top's fit. The top is secured with four bolts on each side.

Packaged and palletized for shipment, a new Rally Top is ready to be sent to a new owner.

Rally Tops also offers a hardtop for CJ-5s, but it's too short for sliding side windows.