Vans are wonderful vehicles, they can carry cargo, passengers and become a living space. By adding a high top, owners can stand up inside for comfort. High tops can be a must when adding items such as a wheelchair lift to a van; the conventional ceiling height may not be enough. Other uses for high tops can be used to:
- · Transform a passenger or cargo van into a campervan.
- · Create a catering or ice cream van.
- · Add height for passenger comfort
- · Add style and personalize a van
- · Dog grooming van
The possibilities are limited only by the owner’s imagination.
Types Of Hightops
There are different types, heights and styles of high tops such as a camper top, California camper top, aerodynamic top, TV top and more. It all depends on what the owner wants to achieve.
The typical camper top has straight sides and looks sort of like an inverted box. You can see these on ambulance vans, dog grooming and ice cream vans. They can be as tall as 24″ or more.
Aerodynamic and TV top vans vary with styles, but are not generally as tall as the camper van tops. They more closely resemble inverted boats with curves that allow airflow and reduces drag.
California camper tops may be boxy in shape or more rounded; they often extend over the van’s cab to create storage space. The tops often have RV windows installed.
There are more styles of tops, but these are the general types and many variations exist. Most are made from high impact fiberglass, which will withstand the rigors and wind resistance of the road.
Prices will vary depending on several factors. This includes the make/model/year of the van which is necessary to determine which top will fit, the finished interior height the owner needs, and if the top will be shipped to a business or DIY’er or installed at a specialty shop. Adding RV windows and clearance lights will add to the cost of the installation.
Where To Find High Tops For Customizing A Van
- · http://www.discountvantruck.com/vantopsraisedroofs/vantops.htm
- · http://fiberine.com/GVMR/Home.html
- · http://www.cyclevan.com/hightops/index.htm
How High Tops Are Installed
Very basically, the roof of the van is meticulously cleaned and most of the roof is cut out. Metal is left all the way around, leaving the roof seam that attaches the roof to the sides is left. The top is lifted into place and an aluminum track is molded into place all the way around. Metal screws are driven through the track, the fiberglass high top and the remaining van’s roof metal. A rubber gasket is placed over the track to protect the screws and provide a pleasing appearance. The seams are sealed to prevent water and air infiltration.
If the van is being used as a passenger van, some state laws require the addition of roll bars in the top; this will add to the price of the installation.
The high top can be painted to match the van and the owner’s taste. Since the top is generally fiberglass, it should be maintained to ensure its looks and safety.
Which Vans Can Have A High Top Added?
Any van from vintage VW busses to full sized vans, passenger vans, mini vans, Sprinter vans and Ford Transit vans can have high tops installed for added height.
Who Can Install One Besides The Manufacturer?
There are many businesses that deal with installing high tops on vans. The most common is body shops that specialize in working on vans. Ask RV dealers and repair shops for recommendations. There are companies such as Explorer Vans that transform passenger or cargo vans into Class B RV’s.
Figure in the cost of the high top and materials for the installation, shipping, and if you are hiring a body shop to do the work, their charges as well.
A good looking high top can add to the resale of your van. By customizing your ride, you can save money by upgrading rather than selling your existing ride and buying another.
I am currently in the process of selecting a high top for my van, which is my future Class B RV. It will feature all the amenities of home, including a shower and toilet. Right now, I’m kinda torn between the standard camper van top, the California campervan top and (possibly) a 30″ tall bubble top. Hmm, decisions, decisions.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.