Jeep XJ Pop Top Builder Series - Part I - Jake Grove Photo

The Roots - Jeep Cherokee Pop-Top Conversion

Part I — Jeep Pop-Top Builder Series



An original conversion vlog, covering the concepts behind the initial Westfalia platform. 

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The "Jeepagon" first became a part of my jeep's livable van-life styled build in the late months of 2017. 

Originally a donor camper top from a 1970's era split-window Volkswagen bus, the top was trimmed and adapted to the rough specifications of the 2000 Jeep Cherokee roof profile. 

It has since been redesigned as a two-part fiberglass mold setup with a far more precise-to-vehicle fitment, as detailed in further Pop-Top builder series.

Photo & Jeep: @arbslikewhoa, jeepforum.com

Photo & Jeep: @arbslikewhoa, jeepforum.com

Photo & Jeep: @arbslikewhoa, jeepforum.com

Photo & Jeep: @arbslikewhoa, jeepforum.com

Long before I jumped head first into this camper XJ idea myself, a JeepForum member by the handle of @arbslikewhoa mustered up a similar concept. 

The "original" Jeep Forum thread, "Jeep-A-Gon", can be found here! 

I exchanged a few email words with Mike, the mind behind this original conversion. Apparently  not long after its completion the jeep-a-gon cherokee was sold, never to be seen by him again. He since moved on to other truck projects and the likes. 

The Original Jeep Westfalia Top - Sourced from the split window pictured behind.

The Original Jeep Westfalia Top - Sourced from the split window pictured behind.

September, 2017

Prowling craigslist, a daily addiction near all jeep-owners fall into — on a quest for second hand parts, dream rigs that'll never surface, and clunkers that tempt with their what-ifs and I-totally-could's. 

As such, the golden ad appeared. A Split-Window VW owner with just the listing I awaited.

$500. Some Damage. Functions. Posted: Mere Hours Ago.

Text Delivered: Hi, I'm serious, I have cash and will be up within the hour. 

Sold. 


Donor Volkswagen PopTop from a 1970s Westfalia - ready to meet the Jeep
Volkswagen Westfalia Luggage Rack - Not needed for the Jeep Conversopm

The original top came with countless flaws. No surprise — this fiberglass shell was nearing five-decades of service. Hairline cracks, wood-rotted supports, mis-drilled roof rack holes galore. 

It served its function for the time. 

Modifying a Westfalia Camper for a Jeep XJ
Scratch work on the westfalia jeep camper

Initial modifications merely adapted the original Westfalia top to fit the Jeep XJ Platform.

The pop-top height was trimmed near 3" shorter. The top's sides angle outwards near 10 degrees. This provides a narrower footprint to sit atop the Jeep rain-gutters. 

The initial two-part Westfalia design consists of a luggage rack that seats with the major pop-up portion. Volkswagen Buses and Vanagons, with their rear engine placement, have no hood and therefore a much longer roof than the majority of factory vehicles. 

To shorten this for a Jeep Cherokee both the luggage rack was removed, and the pop-up portion was shortened near two-feet. The rearward side is flipped to face forward on the Jeep. This allows for the highest pop-top section to sit in the rear of the XJ. The previously luggage-rack seated lip is open and was sealed with a wooden/fiberglass edge as pictured above.

                          

Completed Jeep-a-gon — The final product of the V1 Westfalia Cherokee Conversion

Completed Jeep-a-gon — The final product of the V1 Westfalia Cherokee Conversion

The Westfalia original hinges and push-bar provide the structure of the lifting mechanism and were adapted to fit along the Jeep XJ's factory roofrack rails.

Prior to receiving the 8-point roll-cage a minimal access hole was cut rearwards of the vehicles roof skin. Near all of the roof was chopped upon structural fabrication. The XJ is built around a unibody frame construction — similar to that which any Vanagon features.  

Factory Canvas is upcycled into a trimmed reincarnation to fit the new top profile. This is a Sunbrella type material that can easily be replicated with moderate know-how. 

Scroll Down for Resources and Builder Series Directories! 

                   

Westfalia Converted Jeep Cherokee Camper - Tierra Del Sol
Ocotillo, Ca - Overland Jeep XJ Camper
Ocotillo Wells - Jeep Pop Top Overland Camper


It was great sharing the story behind the original Westfalia Conversion!  Let's tell your story next!

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