The quest to stand up in a van isn't always going to be an easy one. Vans were originally made to haul cargo and boxes and crates did not need extra room. But where there is a will there is a way and you should be able to add more height to your old van with the right tools and equipment.
This may take a little work as you need to scour different classified ads websites, like Craiglist, as well as local papers. or you need to go to the auto wreckers and see if any high tops are still in good shape and usable. from time to time someone on a van-specific forum will offer theirs for sale.
To learn more about finding used high tops for your van, just keep reading our article. it has that information and more. Take a few minutes to see if the following information will ease your search. There is no harm in getting some extra help.
You would be better off looking for vans that already have the conversion made than looking for used fiberglass high tops. Most, if not all, of the high tops we saw for sale, were already attached to the van.
The used prices of the vans were not that affordable at this time. One person placed a 35-year-old High Top van for sale and priced it at $8k. Other prices we saw were for $10,000 and up.
Your best bet is to take a chance with classified ads, wrecking yards, and the do van forum where people have better local contacts. Not every used high-top owner is going to advertised even though he or she would like to sell that piece.
From what we could see from all the websites we visited, most businesses would rather install the new high top than work with used ones. the problem with investing in used ones is that you can never be sure if the integrity of the item is intact.
Normally you won’t find out till it comes time to install it or after it has been installed. Rarely do you find out before buying it. You are taking a big risk when seeking a used high top.
If your heart is set on giving yourself some headroom in your van then there are only a few places you can turn to. The pickings are slim due to one particular reason. The van manufacturers saw the trend and took it over.
The many Sprinters, Ram Pro Masters, and another straight from the factory vans are given high tops and even low tops as a standard accessory or even a customized fit. Getting a new van with a high top already built into the frame of the vehicle is a lot better than cutting a hole in the roof and installing one new or used one.
When this change in the market took place, the demand for installers and custom high tops went down. Many of the companies that used to do it are not doing some other type of work.
Here are some of the companies that still handle this project:
The following three usually just install high tops and do not sell any:
And there is an independent guy in North Carolina we came across in our research that may do it. You can read about him at this link in the first post. One word of caution is that post is 5 years old.
We will not guarantee that all of these companies are still doing this type of work or if they are still in business. Things change vastly right now. The only websites we have come across are for Fiberine and Tufport as well as discountvantruck.
You may have more luck contacting your local fiberglass shops to see if they do the same work but do not advertise it. There is a place in Canada called North American High Tops but they may not work with all models of vans.
There are very few of these companies left right now. Maybe when the trend swings back away from factory-ready high tops, there will be more options available. This list is a repeat of a previous list because the number of companies doing this type of work are very few and very far in between.
This company provides two options, the utility and the deluxe models. The deluxe option is fully insulated, has a 12 volt light dome light included, and gives you a headroom height of 6’ 4”.
There is also a high gloss gel finish added to this high top model and installation is included. The utility option is not so grand as the dome light is optional, no coating is given to it, you have to finish it yourself, but the headroom is the same as the deluxe.
Also, installation is included but not insulation. You can go to their website and contact them for a quote but they do list their prices on the landing page.
This company has a wide selection of high tops and their models work well for those people who need wheelchair access. Plus, the company works with almost all van models from VWs to Sprinters to 4 wheel drive options and even minivans.
Their web pages are full of samples of their work and designs plus, they will do customizing work in case you do not see the headroom level you want. Like Tufport, you should give them a call first and talk to their salesmen to see what can be done for your project.
Besides high tops, this company does sell and install other products to help upgrade the look of your van.
We included this company as it was recommended on an RV website but when we looked at their website, we could not see in their long list of accessories the words high tops for vans or anything similar.
They too work with a majority of van, RV models, and makes and they may be a good source to find other companies that may still be in the business of installing and selling high tops.
The best thing to do with this company is to contact them and see what they say. They may be out of the high top end of the business by now as competition has a way of doing that to many good companies.
4. North American High Tops
If you are in Canada, you can check out this company as they focus on VW vans, like the Vanagon, and are specialists. Even if you are not in that country, this business seems to have a distributorship and installers network throughout America.
You need to check out their home page to get more details, as well as their contact information on the right side of their home page, which lists a few different high-top styles. Who knows, they too may be able to turn you on to another company we have not found yet and you can find what you want at the price you want to pay.
This list will only contain a few new names as we have already talked about the main 4 that can be found so far. The first new one is Coach Specialists in Texas, but they are more of a custom high-top manufacturer and do not have standard molds that they use.
Also, the many companies that used to be in the business have switched to working on other car parts because the demand for high tops has dropped due to the shifting trend. You can try this company www.SampsonFiberglass.com, this one www.Cyclevan.com/hightops/index.htm, or this one www.SportsMobile.com/ to see if they are still in the business.
We know that the 4 we described earlier are still making high tops but finding alternatives to those 4 is a difficult task. keep in mind that if you do your own search any companies that come up that we havent listed may not sell directly to the consumer.
They only work with dealers and new vehicle converters. That is also a trend that cuts off access to many professional companies that handle high-top orders. You can try fiberglass fabricators as they may dabble in this without advertising that part of their business.
Other than that one lead we linked to a few sections ago, there doesn't seem to be anyone in this state that handles fiberglass high tops. Most of the companies that still handle this business are in Indiana, Nevada, Canada, Oregon, and California.
We cannot speak for individual fiberglass shops that take on a wide variety of projects due to the fact they do not advertise they handle van high top conversions. The closest we got to NC was new jersey and the company did not handle any high-top manufacturing or installation.
We would suggest you do a local search for the state you live in as the same results that came up for NC may come up for your home state. That is how many of these companies have gone out of business or changed their purposes.
Even after all of this bad news, you may still want to get a high top installed on your van. Here are some things to think about before you leap:
1. Safety - most high tops are installed with sheet metal screws only. If by chance you do roll your van, the top can come off very easily. Also, the reinforced beams are cut to make the hole in the roof, your installer needs to know w=how to reinforce those sidewalls.
2. Noise - you may get more noise depending on if the high top is insulated or not. Also, design is important in reduced noise.
3. Insulation - Tufport does not insulate utility high tops. You will need to pay more to get the insulated version. Unless you are just hauling cargo, insulation is a must
4. A C & Heating - these two important features will change when you change the roof. You may have to install bigger units to handle the extra space. You can install an additional unit but the high top must be able to handle the extra weight.
5. Parking - once you install that high top, parking in your garage is not going to happen. Unless you have large garage doors and a high ceiling inside. If you don’t, you will need to consider buying a cover to protect your van from the elements when it is not in use. or get ready to pay rental at an RV storage facility.
6. Maintenance and cleaning - you will need to get a ladder to keep that new roof clean. Unless you are very tall and can still reach. Plus, you will have to apply a finish on some models, a sealant, and a UV protector to keep your new high top in pristine shape. This adds work to your schedule.
Finding a high top for your van whether new or used is almost like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. It is going to be difficult to find as so many companies have gone out of business. They have disappeared because the demand disappeared.
But if you keep your eye on the classifieds you may come across one that will fit your van at a very low price. or you may have to take along road trip to one of the few remaining companies that handle those projects.