Q: Greg I enjoy your Jeep articles, especially the Jeep trucks of the past and those fun Wrangler soft-top models. When did Jeep stop making a pickup truck? Also my Jeep Wrangler needs a new soft top. Can you give information on the trucks and also what’s available in the soft-top market? My Wrangler soft top was cut as someone tried to break into it. Thanks much, Keith M., Coal Township, Pa.
A: Keith, I’ll be happy to assist as I get many letters from Jeep fans every time I write about them.
Personally, I always wondered why Jeep stopped making the full size and medium size pickup. I would think the combination of Renault as its new partner in the 1980 decade had something to do with it, as Renault immediately downsized even more the already small AMC cars and gave them names like Alliance and LeCar. None were successful, not even the Fuego, which was the Renault AMC sports car.
As for the Jeep pickup, the very last generation pickup was the 1986 mid-size Jeep Comanche. Jeep would sell this model all the way through 1992, as it was a popular mid-size truck of the day.
Back in 1986, Comanche pickup power came from a choice of three engines: AMC’s 2.5-liter inline four cylinder, the AMC/General Motors inspired 2.8-liter V6, or the Renault 2.1-liter inline four turbo diesel. In 1987, the reliable AMC 4.0 liter inline six came back on the scene, this time as a fuel-injected version that replaced the General Motors 2.8 V6.
As for a happy ending, there wasn’t one. Lack of sales prompted AMC to stop production after the 1992 year and concentrate on new owner Chrysler Corporation, which had a nice mid-size Dakota pickup.
Now for some “happy news.” Get ready for a brand new Jeep Wrangler pickup truck to debut sometime in 2018/2019 as it has become common knowledge that Fiat Chrysler is bringing back the Jeep pickup. (See promo photo). This will coincide with the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler, and both will be built in Toledo, Ohio. This is great news for Jeep fans, and I expect the smaller to mid-size truck to be a big hit at dealer showrooms. Stay tuned for more on this exciting news for Jeep Pickup fans.
As for the Jeep Wrangler soft tops, I’m sorry to hear someone tried to break into your Wrangler. Everyone who owns a soft-top vehicle, be it any convertible or a Wrangler with a soft top, is aware that bad intentions, a sharp knife and a soft top can be an ominous combination. The good news is that you have lots of choices when it comes to soft-top replacement for your Wrangler, both from your area Jeep dealer or the aftermarket.
Now here’s some hopefully good information about original equipment manufacturer (OEM) soft tops at your Jeep dealer and the aftermarket companies that specialize in soft tops.
There is one company out there, namely Bestop, that not only caters to the Jeep Wrangler soft top consumer, this company is also the sole supplier of all the OEM Jeep soft tops dating back to 1986! So, if you want to rate a company by years of success, Bestop’s 31 years of supplying Jeep with quality soft tops has to be taken into consideration in your soft top replacement choice.
Bestop has just released a brand new Jeep Wrangler soft-top called the Trektop NX Glide that is zipper less and has a nice fastback convertible design. This will give the Wrangler owners another option for open-air adventure.
You can check out all of Bestop’s offerings on sites like Amazon, Summit, Jegs, J.C. Whitney and many more. As for cost, you can put a Pavement Ends by Bestop soft top on your Jeep Wrangler for about $250 with free Prime shipping from Amazon, and I’d say that’s one heck of a deal.
So when it comes to soft tops for your Wrangler, Bestop is the main name in town and they’ve been crafting soft tops out of Boulder, Colorado, for the last 62 years. You can view their offerings at https://www.bestop.com/ or take a peek at this YouTube video at https://youtu.be/tFs0mzROVz8.
Other companies that make Jeep soft tops include Rugged Ridge, Rampage and aforementioned Pavement Ends, the latter which Bestop manufacturers.
Thanks for your letter and I can’t wait to test drive one of the new Jeep pickups! Good luck with your soft-top replacement.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions of collector cars, auto nostalgia and old time racing at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org).