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Old 09-23-2010, 05:14 PM   #1
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Default Popup tops. Love them? Hate them?

Wondering what your experiences and thoughts are regarding the popup tops that were a defining hallmark of the VW Westfalia and are still used by Sportsmobile and some other manufacturers.

Are they a practical alternative to hard tops?

What are their realistic weather limitations regarding rain and cold?

In practice how much of a problem does the height of a hard top pose? MPG? Handling? Parking?

Other than the obvious lack of headroom while on the road, and the extra steps to camp & decamp, what disadvantages do these tops have?
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: Popup tops. Love them? Hate them?

They look interesting when deployed. There's an outfit from Quebec I believe that makes
a van called a Safari Condo. We saw a few in Quebec last August. They reminded me of the
old VW Vanagon or Westfalia or whichever model had the accordion top, on a Ford or GM chassis.

Then there's the Sportsmobile. Saw some of them out there too last summer. They appear to have
meshed/screened/sliding windows/vents when the top is raised, which would probably provide
increased air flow in the evenings, but also expose the van to the weather if left unattended.
I like the Roadtrek's Fantastic Fan vent and the rear side window flip up open vents combo myself,
but they aren't likely as effective as the overhead "windows".
I would have to guess the structural integrity of a van with a removable top might be weaker than
a fixed one, but an engineer I'm not. I used to own a Corvette and they said they added extra frame
struts to increase body stability to compensate for the weakness created by the convertible roof.
Does Sportsmobile or Safari Condo do something similar on their "convertibles"? I have no idea, or
even if it's an issue.
Just my opinions/observations.
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Old 09-28-2010, 03:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Popup tops. Love them? Hate them?

My first class B was a poptop Ford E150. We honestly loved it. I was easy to park in the driveway with the top retracted, it was really easy to extend the top also. Weather was never a problem with it as we sometimes hauled a small snowmobile inside it in the winter with our 2 kids and my wife and I. It slept 4 but was very cramped. It had an icebox, sink, heater, 2 burner stove and a small tv. We used it year-round and put close to 100,000 miles on it and traded it for another newer class B. Our kids still talk about the fun vacations we all had in it. We never tried towing with it though but we went literally everywhere west of the Mississippi in it.
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: Popup tops. Love them? Hate them?

Have a Sportsmobile with the pop top and love it. No big deal to put the top up or down just takes a few seconds. Have stayed in 1 place for a week or more and if want to go site seeing or go into town for groceries no big deal. Just got back from a 10 week road trip. This is our 4th year with the SMB and very happy with it.
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: Popup tops. Love them? Hate them?

I am looking into different Class B's now. I am 6'4" tall but for some reason I am not considering them. I am thinking of full timing and I guess I am concerned about them leaking sooner or later particularly with daily use. Maybe if I was just planning to use one for weekends or summer trips it would be okay. Wouldn't say I hate them but for some reason I don't care for them.
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: Popup tops. Love them? Hate them?

I don't have a poptop but I've never met any owner of a poptop that didn't like them. The obvious advantage is many can be parked in a normal home garage. Another is the ability to park anywhere including a commercial parking garage at shopping centers and downtown areas. More normal van stealth look is an advantage in some residential neighborhoods. The other big advantage is most poptops come from custom converters like Sportsmobile so owners tend to get exactly what they desire with features that might not be obtainable otherwise.
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