Willys Canvas Tops Made in Colombia

Perhaps the number one place in the world today for Willys-watching is Colombia, South America. Not only because there are so many original Willys Jeeps on the road there, but also because many of them are not just in collections but in everyday working use. (See World Record Jeep Parade on CJ3B.info.) With all those Jeeps in regular use, there has to be somebody supplying things that wear out, like soft tops.

Andy Gil, who is originally from Medellin, Colombia and now lives in Miami, returned to his home town in 2005 and found one of those suppliers. Andy says, "I went to Medellin to visit my friends, and some of them own Willys Jeeps -- CJ-3As, CJ-2As and CJ-3Bs, also one 1943 MB and a 1953 M38. They took me to see the shop where they had their tops made and I met the guy who makes them. I decided to get my top made there and when I came back to Miami, I researched the materials and found a wholesaler here in Miami who sells all the upholstery and convertible top materials."

Rear "I traveled to Medellin again and got the soft top for my CJ-3A. A friend of mine let me use his CJ-3A for the purpose of making the top to exact measurements, and it took four days to get the top made. The top shown in the photos was designed by me and it's a 4-piece (one piece top, rear cover with window, and two doors).

"I can get any top made for the CJ-2A, CJ-3A, CJ-3B or CJ-5, with cotton canvas or any other good modern material, depending on the customer's choice, made to order and shipped to Miami. The guy that makes the tops uses original Willys Jeeps for the purpose of making the tops to exact measurements. He has a friend that makes exact reproductions of the original rods, top bows and door frames."

Andy says the shop can make reproductions of any of the original 4-piece to 7-piece configurations of top (see Reproduction Canvas Tops) as well as one-piece military tops or custom variations.

AssemblyThe cotton heavyweight canvas made in Colombia comes in black, military green, brown and grey. The flat black or chromed fasteners made in Colombia may get a little rusty over a long period of time. U.S.-made vinyl material (seen here) can also be used, adding perhaps $350.00 to the basic cost. Andy says, "On my CJ-3A soft top I used the 'Sailcloth' single texture vinyl/fabric which comes in a variety of colors with black or grey fabric backing, and also stainless steel fasteners."

Bows"On my friend's CJ-3A, the rods and bows are reproductions made in Colombia. A complete set of reproduction top rods and top bows sells for US$600. These are available for all model Willys Jeeps and are painted in black. Door frames alone are US$250."

Also on CJ3B.info, see Lawrence Wade's photos of the original framework on a 1955 CJ-3B.

FittingAndy continues, "These soft tops are made by tailoring them to the specific Jeep model. The owner of the upholstery shop can borrow a Jeep with the original rods and top bows so that he can tailor the top and get it done to original measurements. You can see this process in the photos that I took while the top for my Jeep was being made. The finished product is much superior to the tops made here in the U.S."

DrawingThis is Andy's drawing of the supporting framework (20K GIF). All measurements are in centimeters.

See also his drawings of the canvas for his custom top: side view (20K GIF), rear view (20K GIF) and door (20K GIF)

DoorThis photo shows the inside of one of Andy's doors. He says, "They do not have available the metal frames for the early windows of the CJ-2As. The windows will be sewn to the canvas like the ones on my Jeep's top.On each top ordered, the door frames will have to be fabricated in Colombia and then covered. It is very cumbersome to ship the original door frames from the U.S. The cost of the new door frames is included in the total price of $1050 to1250 for a 4 to 7-piece top."

Thanks to Andy for the photos. Unfortunately I don't currently have contact information for purchase of the tops. -- Derek Redmond

See more Jeeps in Colombia.

Also on CJ3B.info, see Willys-Overland Canvas Tops and Reproduction Canvas Tops.

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Last updated 8 May 2011 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond