|From Caney Creek RV Resort, Harriman, 40 miles west of Knoxville, TN.
I mentioned in a previous column that I was looking for a hard top for the Jeep, that the original factory soft top was beginning to show signs of needing to be replaced in the next year or two & that a hard top would provide much easier access to the rear cargo area.
I had begun scouring Ebay for a hard top & had found a few that were within a reasonable (300-mile) driving distance. Shipping a top was out of the question due to cost & bulk. Knowing that a new top costs something in the neighborhood of $1,700, I bid on one that was for sale in north Georgia, but lost out when my $926 bid was out-bid. It sold for $936.
I had been watching some others further away and seeing that the ones that sold generally did so in the $800-1,000 range. A few were listed but remained unsold because the seller’s reserve price was never met.
Reader Steve left me a message in the Guestbook about a hard top that was listed on Craigslist in Nashville, for $650. It was black, but otherwise seemed to be a good deal. I called the seller hoping to chat a bit about it, but he did not return my call, maybe just as well though, since I could never really get comfortable that the combination of the black top on the maroon body would be a good color combination.
From that lead, though, I scoured other listings on Craigslist for several surrounding cities. I found 3-4 tops in colors that I thought would look good. The nearest one was located in Lenoir City, about 25 miles away. The seller had it listed at $1,500, such an unreasonably high price that I almost did not bother to call…..but call I did.
After chatting a few moments, I asked him his lowest price, to which he replied that he had told his wife that he thought he could get $950 for it. I told him that I thought that was still too high & that I would let someone else have the opportunity to buy it from him. He responded by asking what I was willing to pay & I said $700, assuming that it was in good condition. It only took him a split second to say that he would accept that.
This was on Wednesday afternoon & he said that it would be Friday morning before he could show it to me, due to his work schedule. We tentatively agreed that I would go look on Friday. Vicki was working then, but she was OK with me looking & buying it without her seeing it.
My biggest concern was a line that he had in his ad, stating that his reason for selling it was that “his wife wanted it removed from the back yard”. The implication of it having sat unprotected in his backyard long enough for it to have become a nuisance was of a little concern to me.
Thursday afternoon, he called back. When I realized it was him, my first thought was that he had sold it out from under me. Instead, he asked if I could come look at it that afternoon. This would allow Vicki to go with me, so I told him I would be on the way shortly.
When we got to his house, the top was sitting in a grassy spot, with a tarp over it, but the grass beneath was very green & healthy, obviously not the spot where it had been sitting for very long. It had some dirt on it & needed a good cleaning, but other than that, was in good condition.
I told him it was a deal, if he would help me remove the soft top & install the hard top…..agreed. I was able to disassemble & fold the soft top enough to be able to haul it back home with the hardtop installed. The hard top went on easily, we got it secured with the mounting hardware & Vicki & I were back on the road with our newest acquisition.
Friday, while Vicki worked a shift at the marina, I gave the whole Jeep a good bath. Richard, my co-worker, had offered to help me remove the top & clean the underside (interior) real good & then re-install the top. Now after, driving over 300 miles & using the cargo area a few times, it has been all that we had hoped it would be. The noise factor is definitely reduced from the soft top & access to the cargo area is a piece of cake compared to the soft top.
The hard top has a rear wiper & rear window defroster, but requires a wiring harness to make them functional. I can get those on Ebay & elsewhere, but at this point, they are not critical. I may or may not do so in the future.
A nice surprise is that the hardtop comes off & on rather easily, so that we can still go topless when we really want to. So, overall, a move with which we have been very pleased.
Thanks, Steve, for pointing me to Craigslist to find a successful ending.