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The Pros and Cons of Hightopping from a longtime Poptopper
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VanaGlenn
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Location: Bowmanville, Ontario
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:19 pm    Post subject: The Pros and Cons of Hightopping from a longtime Poptopper Reply with quote

Travels with Moose.
Part One

In July 2012, John Charlton sent me out to the Rockies in his beloved Subaru powered 85 Westie hightop conversion.
What a beauty.
10,000 KMs of Vanadventure.
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For two years back in the 80s, I lived in my air cooled [poptop] Westfalias: first my orange 1972 bus and later in my brown 1980 Vanagon.
Loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not when climbing over the Rockies, through the many ranges on Alaska or Dempster Hwys or up and out of the Ohio River Valley in a Cincinatti morning rush hour, etc.
-
But this little memoir is not about how great a 2.5L Subaru powers a Westie [its great!].
No, this is about how I learned to stop top popping and love the hightop.
I still have a 1980 poptop Westie that I restored from certain death in a remote barn on the shores of Lake Ontario.
From May to October, its now my daily driver while my Audi Quattro wagon sees light duty while it waits for the snow and daily trips to the ski hill.
I love the westie poptop and air cooled VWs like crazy.

-
But that hasnt stopped me from converting a 1982 diesel Vanagon passenger van into a hightop demon diesel powered by a 1.9 AAZ turbo diesel and air cooled DK transaxle.
The mechanical conversion is a no brainer if you have an old diesel Vanagon. Lots of power and relatively straight forward upgrade.
But the true beauty is the hightop.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


When you camp with a hightop, you can keep all your clothes where you want them in front of you as you stand there thinking about what to wear.
No more climbing over luggage and or sleeping passengers just to get dressed.
A little bulkhead holds all of clothing and then some above the driver/passenger seats.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

-
When were rolling, all the bedding gets tossed up onto the upper bed with a small cargo net to keep it there.
Lots of room down below to relax on the highway and at roadside pullouts.
When its time to sleep, up you go into the top where there is plenty of room.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

-
And if you want to use a rest area [make sure there are big rigs and other big RVs around] or Walmart for late night dry dock camping, the hightop is the best way to keep a stealthy profile and always be ready to go without giving up head or bed space.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

-
If I had to replace the canvas on a poptop, Id put on a hightop.
Less work, more utility.
-
And: I think that its better in the wind than my conventional westie!
Something about how the wind moves over those lines makes it less prone to buffetting and wind noise.
Whod a thunk?
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One more thing: my wife loves he hightop.
Which is nice. Cause, unlike a LOT of things that you can buy for your Vanagons [Is that a new engine, dear? Huh? Wha? That ol thing?], you cant hide a hightop. So, she better like it.
She wants me to put one on our newly acquired sunroof Vanagon!
[not happening, it's a sunroof!]
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

-
Our 22 year old daughter wants one to tour N. America and says that she too prefers a hightop.
All the better to camp anywhere, anytime with more security and less obviousness.
Needless to say, my teenage sons want Vanagons too.
As long as they have a fridge and bed in the back...

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

_________________
1980 Westfalia Vanagon 2L AC
1982 Hightop Vanagon 1.9 AAZ TD
1985 Sunroof Vanagon 1.9L AT
1987 Hardtop Vanagon 2.1L AT [donor]
1999 Audi A6 Quattro Avant
2001 Toyota Sienna XLE

Gone but not forgotten:
1972 Westie, 1980 Westie, 1948 Flexibus [Greyhound RV], 87 Toyota Van, 95 AWD SC Previa, 88 BMW 535is, 92 BMW 525i, 87 BMW 328ic and a few domestic vans and wagons not worth mentioning...


Last edited by VanaGlenn on Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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djkeev
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So........ I'm guessing that you do NOT like the Westy Pop top and haven't any strong opinions you'd like to express? Wink
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SCM
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah!? Try pulling that thing into a garage with an 8 ft door opening! Laughing

I personally prefer the looks of a pop top but I do hate having to move stuff around everytime I raise/lower the top.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SCM wrote:
Oh yeah!? Try pulling that thing into a garage with an 8 ft door opening! Laughing

I personally prefer the looks of a pop top but I do hate having to move stuff around everytime I raise/lower the top.


What he sez. Would love the storage/usefulness, but not so much dealing with a garage or the looks (after all, the van is such a stunning... box).
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Steve Arndt
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there a bed upstairs or is it for storage only? I haven't seen a picture showing the bed configuration.
Steve
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1621
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with the OP on this one, there's a lot of utility to be gained from adding a high top. No, it's obviously not for everyone, but for a family on the road this makes a lot of sense in added interior space alone. Thanks for posting your thoughts, and I hope to read more musings on the high top.
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VanaGlenn
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:11 pm    Post subject: st-rong opinions? Reply with quote

Do i say that i didn't like the poptops?

I thought that i posted something like:
I love poptops.
I love my 1980 Westie Poptop and drive it every day.
i loved my older 80 westie and my 72 Westie [reverse pop]
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


but...
when it comes to long haul camping, the hightop is awesome.
and my wife loves it for all the conveniences mentioned.
-
this is no diss on the poptop.
they look great and are great.
my post was more for anyone considering a conversion from either a beat up poptop or tintop [even i won't do it to a sunroof Vanagon].
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

-
John sold me a hightop that he brought over in a batch from UK.
easy to install on my old tintop diesel.
soon i think he'll have a batch of Canadian made Adventurewagen tops.
And I can fit in my carport [just can't jack it up in there].
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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1980 Westfalia Vanagon 2L AC
1982 Hightop Vanagon 1.9 AAZ TD
1985 Sunroof Vanagon 1.9L AT
1987 Hardtop Vanagon 2.1L AT [donor]
1999 Audi A6 Quattro Avant
2001 Toyota Sienna XLE

Gone but not forgotten:
1972 Westie, 1980 Westie, 1948 Flexibus [Greyhound RV], 87 Toyota Van, 95 AWD SC Previa, 88 BMW 535is, 92 BMW 525i, 87 BMW 328ic and a few domestic vans and wagons not worth mentioning...
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VanaGlenn
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:20 pm    Post subject: upstairs living Reply with quote

i'll post some pix of the interior if i get a chance this weekend.
-
Bed up top is nice and big for one. Cozy for two adults but fine for two kids or teens.
-
nice thing about putting a hightop onto a tintop, is with a bed below, you not only don't need cabinets for clothes [bulkhead above driver/passenger takes care of that], but you get a W-I-D-E bed below.
-
nice and roomy! and no more knocking your head on the hand hanging cabinets - since they're not there!
-
there are pros and cons to everything.
and owning ANY Vanagon is better than NOT owning a Vanagon!
How you like it set up is up to each and every owner.
there are no right or wrong answers in that regard.
-
now that I think about it, what am i doing giving all these great ideas to potential tintop buyers?
i better hurry up and buy what i can before everyone else gets the wiser...
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1980 Westfalia Vanagon 2L AC
1982 Hightop Vanagon 1.9 AAZ TD
1985 Sunroof Vanagon 1.9L AT
1987 Hardtop Vanagon 2.1L AT [donor]
1999 Audi A6 Quattro Avant
2001 Toyota Sienna XLE

Gone but not forgotten:
1972 Westie, 1980 Westie, 1948 Flexibus [Greyhound RV], 87 Toyota Van, 95 AWD SC Previa, 88 BMW 535is, 92 BMW 525i, 87 BMW 328ic and a few domestic vans and wagons not worth mentioning...
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markz2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool pictures of your high top adventures.
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[email protected]
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why not having both Wink

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IrideWheelies
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the OP completely.

Best upgrade ever
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Kombi///M3
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I grow up I wanna be a Hightop Very Happy

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How's the air movement up there while sleeping? Does it get hot? I can see the side wind will be much noticeable, what about the headwind drag? is it much noticeable?
Cheers,
Ogi
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nemobuscaptain
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[email protected] wrote:
Why not having both Wink

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Because we not having that in North America.

Wish we did!!!!
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SCM wrote:
Oh yeah!? Try pulling that thing into a garage with an 8 ft door opening! Laughing

I personally prefer the looks of a pop top but I do hate having to move stuff around everytime I raise/lower the top.


Ditto. And actually, my pop-topper fits in my 6'-11" garage. Very Happy

Those hi-tops are a bit too claustrophobic for me... plus, no push-up bar to hang stuff from. Laughing
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VanaGlenn
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[email protected] wrote:
Why not having both Wink

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i'm sooooo jealous!
i would if i could!
there's one for sale in Quebec - Syncro too.
but a bit out of my budget right now...
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1453097
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1980 Westfalia Vanagon 2L AC
1982 Hightop Vanagon 1.9 AAZ TD
1985 Sunroof Vanagon 1.9L AT
1987 Hardtop Vanagon 2.1L AT [donor]
1999 Audi A6 Quattro Avant
2001 Toyota Sienna XLE

Gone but not forgotten:
1972 Westie, 1980 Westie, 1948 Flexibus [Greyhound RV], 87 Toyota Van, 95 AWD SC Previa, 88 BMW 535is, 92 BMW 525i, 87 BMW 328ic and a few domestic vans and wagons not worth mentioning...
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VanaGlenn
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kombi///M3 wrote:
When I grow up I wanna be a Hightop Very Happy

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How's the air movement up there while sleeping? Does it get hot? I can see the side wind will be much noticeable, what about the headwind drag? is it much noticeable?
Cheers,
Ogi


sweet looking ride.
up top is very nice.
windows on each side that open and let in the breeze and or light when needed.
ditto skylight/vent/fan.
might add a couple of more round windows at back if i find a good deal somewhere.
but cozy and warm up there in the mountains.
just don't feed mainfloor passengers beans...
-
as for driving, surprisingly quiet and aerodynamic.
the only winds that bothered me where winds coming from rear/side angle.
from the side or front or front/side no issue.
i think that the back acts a bit like a sail?
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1980 Westfalia Vanagon 2L AC
1982 Hightop Vanagon 1.9 AAZ TD
1985 Sunroof Vanagon 1.9L AT
1987 Hardtop Vanagon 2.1L AT [donor]
1999 Audi A6 Quattro Avant
2001 Toyota Sienna XLE

Gone but not forgotten:
1972 Westie, 1980 Westie, 1948 Flexibus [Greyhound RV], 87 Toyota Van, 95 AWD SC Previa, 88 BMW 535is, 92 BMW 525i, 87 BMW 328ic and a few domestic vans and wagons not worth mentioning...
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanagons are way cool . I repeat. Vanagons are way cool.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HI Glenn - I think that Moose enjoyed stretching his legs on the trip too

"might add a couple of more round windows at back if i find a good deal somewhere.
but cozy and warm up there in the mountains.
just don't feed mainfloor passengers beans..."

can't do much about the beans - but the round windows .... these aren't terribly expensive
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/sh...+Portholes

WRT the size of the "loft" upstairs - its slightly wider than the downstairs bed (no westy cabinetry taking up space on the side) - I find that there's plenty of comfortable headroom up there for sleeping and one thing that I really like is that when I sleep on my back, my toes aren't rubbing into the top as they did with the westy top.
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Last edited by J Charlton on Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:18 pm; edited 2 times in total
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having owned several pop tops and now a high top, there is no looking back. High tops are definitely a big improvement. I find it interesting and understandable that most (all?) of the negative comments come from folks who have never owned one. Is there anyone who has actually owned both a high top and a pop top and yet prefers the pop top??
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Arndt wrote:
Is there a bed upstairs or is it for storage only? I haven't seen a picture showing the bed configuration.
Steve


Probably the reason there have been few if any pics of the upper bed extended and in place is that its really difficult to take that picture.

This is a pic of the rear bed area, rear section - not finished with the birch veneering yet
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Pic below is of the upper bed area with the extension pulled out and in place. Its difficult to get far enough back in the van to take a decent pic of this. You can see along the left side that there is extra space in the top for a wider mattress than the westy pad pictured. Overall about 6" more width than the westy upper bed. A lot of folks have replaced their westy pad with some nice memory foam full width.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I find it very comfortable sleeping up top. My fishing buddy who is claustrophobic (hates elevators) also likes to sleep up top. Even in the hottest weather, with the windows open and the vent open there is enough air movement to keep it nice to sleep. The insulation does a nice job of keeping the top warm or cool as the case may be and that helps a lot as well.
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Buena Vista Co 4 (2 available) Staunton Va.5 (0 available) Salt Lake City 6 (3 available)Kennewick Wa (1 available - paint grade) Nova Scotia (1 available)
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