Stuart Bourdon, the editor for OffRoadExtreme.com and DieselArmy.com, penned a great article outlining some of our products and our display at this year’s SEMA show.

“Bestop really shines when it comes to providing the 4×4 and truck enthusiast with accessories that make life easier and their vehicle more versatile, useful and enjoyable. The company’s product line runs the gamut from soft tops, doors and windows, bumpers and tire carriers, seats and interior accessories, storage and exterior accessories to even replacement mirrors, steps and powered running boards.”

Click the link below the pic to read the article.

SEMA 2013: New Bestop Products Bring Greater Utility To Vehicles

It’s all in the genes. Land Rover, Jeep’s not so distant cousin.

It was 1947 and the whole of Britain was trying to return to normal life, sifting through the debris left by World War II.  The Economy was as battered as the streets of London but times were changing and there was optimism in the air for the first time since the late 30’s

The immediate post-war period saw raw materials strictly rationed to companies building construction or industrial equipment, or products that could be widely exported to earn crucial foreign exchange for the country.

The Rover factory in Coventry, which had produced luxury cars prior to WWII, had been bombed extensively, forcing the company to move into a huge “shadow factory” it had built during the war near Birmingham to construct aircraft. This factory was now empty but starting car production there from scratch would not be financially viable. Plans for a small, economical car known as the M Type were drawn up, and a few prototypes made, but proved to be too expensive to produce.

Rover’s then chief designer Maurice Wilkes, came up with a plan to produce a light agricultural and utility vehicle. So, here’s the part where the US Army Jeep comes into play.  Due to the lend-lease program and the large amount of US military units once station and still in England at the time, there was an abundance of left over Ford GPW’s and Willy’s MB’s.  So many Jeeps were built during WWII that in America the “$50 Jeep in a crate” was a real thing for a short time.

Maurice purchased a surplus Willy’s MB and used it on his farm in Anglesey in North Wales.  During this time, he became quite familiar with the American work horse now dubbed the “Jeep”.  He saw it as something that had many uses and purposes.  But mostly he saw an economically viable opportunity to provide the UK with a utility vehicle of it’s own design similar in concept to the Willys Jeep but with an emphasis on agricultural use.

So, slide rule, tea cup and cigar in hand, Maurice set to work on designing. With the assistance of Rover’s engineering team led by Arthur Goddard, the first pre-production Land Rovers were being developed by late 1947.

The first prototype had one rather odd yet distinctive feature whereas the steering wheel was mounted in the middle of the vehicle. This vehicle was dubbed the “Center Steer”.

It was built on the Jeep chassis and used the engine and gearbox out of a Rover P3 saloon car. The bodywork was handmade out of an aluminium/magnesium alloy called “Birmabright” since steel was still very closely rationed.  Early in pre-production the chassis was used straight from the Jeep and and wasn’t even repainted and the olive green axles shone quite contrastly through the centers of the grey wheels. After all, paint was in still in very short supply and manufacturers had to make use of surplus paints.

Early tests showed this quirky little vehicle to be a very capable yet versatile machine. And much like the first American “civilian” Jeeps, PTO drives from the front of the engine and from the gearbox to the centre and rear of the vehicle allowed it to drive farm machinery, just like a tractor.

Testing included ploughing and several other agricultural tasks. However, as the vehicle was being readied for production, this emphasis on tractor-like usage decreased and the tractor like center steering proved impractical for road use.

Subsequently, the steering wheel was mounted off to the side as normal, the bodywork was simplified to reduce production time and costs and a larger engine was fitted along with a specially designed transfer gearbox to replace the original Jeep unit. The resulting vehicle ended up NOT using a single Jeep component. It became slightly shorter than its American inspiration, but wider, heavier, and faster and then progressed into the very versatile utility vehicle which is still in production today, known as the “Defender”.

So, forged in the crucible of war and honed into an everlasting Icon of everything that truly “British” the Land Rover can trace it roots back to the very vehicle that carried troops and Generals alike into battle, the very American iconic Jeep.

PowerBoard® NX Available now for 2014 Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra Pickups

PowerBoard NX is first to market on powered running boards for 2014 GMC pickups Broomfield, CO (July 17th, 2013):

PowerBoard NX from Bestop® is available now for 2014 GM C1500 and K1500 1/2 Ton Pick Ups.

GM revamped their best selling trucks for 2014, and they’re already on dealer lots, and selling much better than anticipated. Sales are up 25% on Sierra/Silverado from last year. The newly designed truck went through extensive changes in the engine compartment, and GM came up with a whole new wiring scheme. That’s no big deal to aftermarket companies selling things like wheels, but what about products like electrically powered running boards?

That’s where PowerBoard NX comes into play. Bestop’s new PowerBoard NX uses wireless triggers on the doors. It doesn’t tap into factory wiring inside the cab which greatly reduces installation time and effort. With Bestop’s ground-breaking “Wi-Fi” design, PowerBoard NX is up and running and ready to go with the new 2014 Silverado and Sierra. Beware of similar products that get rushed to market that don’t have the OEM-quality testing and verification Bestop uses as a Tier 1 supplier to GM and other major auto makers.

Any wired system that requires connection to the truck wiring harness for the new GM trucks will require the removal and reinstallation of all 4 door panels to make it work. The PowerBoard NX does not touch the door panels or factory harness or any part of the cab interior to make it work.

“Factory wiring just keeps getting more complicated, with all the interconnected systems and computers,” says Jim Chick, Director of Sales at Bestop. “So there’s more room for error if you’re tapping into those systems, plus the chance for conflict with alarms or other systems”.

PowerBoard NX part numbers 5623-15 and 75626-15 are available for order and delivery now through all Bestop Authorized Dealers now. For more detailed information please visit Bestop.com or contact Bestop Customer Service Monday – Friday, 8-5 Coast to Coast.

***
Bestop®, Inc. manufactures and supplies the most diverse mix of soft tops and accessories for the Jeep Wrangler, full and compact truck applications, SUVS and UTVs. By utilizing the finest materials available and adhering to O.E. M. specifications for form, fit, function and craftsmanship – Bestop® designs and builds the highest quality Jeep, Truck and UTV accessories available on the market today. Bestop® is owned by Magna International, one of the largest automotive parts manufacturers in the world.

Chinese Off Road Market

China has become a massive boom country for vehicle sales, and while it may be more focused on luxury cars, the boom is also seeing a huge increase in Jeep Wranglers being sold. And when Jeeps get sold, they get modified.

Bestop is working with a company called Traversing Off Road to supply the Chinese Jeep market.

Our Vice President, Ken Holbrook was just there visiting, and sent us this photo of some of the company management, and a few of the Wranglers currently in their lot.

TRAVERSING OFF ROAD AND EXPLORATION EQUIPMENT
No.555 HUANGXIANG ROAD,
SHANGHAI,CHINA
Tel. 86-137 0172 9111
www.traversing-usa.com

SEMA Town Hall and Trail Day

Last week, Bestop was honored to be host for a SEMA town hall.

Gathering for SEMA Board members

Gathering for SEMA Board members

SEMA might be best known for their annual giant show in Vegas, but year round, this industry association has a team of talented folks working tirelessly for the automotive aftermarket industry - wheels, tires, engine performance, exhaust, body kits, trucks steps and (of course) Jeep accessories. SEMA runs scholarships, political action committees — all sorts of things.

The Town Halls are held in various places all over the country. To avoid a sterile hotel ballroom, SEMA likes ask a local member business to act as host.  Bestop was more than willing.

We had about 80 Denver area automotive business people in our meeting area, and they got the chance to talk with each other, with three members of the SEMA board, and with Chris Kersting, the president of SEMA.

The next day, Jim Chick, our Director of Sales (and a SEMA board member) invited the SEMA employees and SEMA Chairman Nate Shelton out for a little Colorado Jeep action.

We hit the trails up at Left Hand Canyon with Chris, AJ, Nathaniel and Gary.  Left Hand is a great place for wheelin’, it’s close to Boulder, and it’s a total blast to hit those trails with California Flatlanders!

Thanks for treating the company Jeeps like rentals guys! Glad we could help with a great day on the trail.

Jim Chick helping with spotting.

Bestop Prez Rick Sabourin letting SEMA Pres Chris Kerstling drive

Bestop Prez Rick Sabourin letting SEMA Pres Chris Kerstling drive

On the way up the hill

On the way up the hill

AJ from SEMA, Mel from Bestop

AJ and Gary from SEMA. Novice offroaders but awesome drivers!

The group makes plans.

The group makes plans.

Nate gets some air. More Power!

Nate gets some air. More Power!

Rocking it old school…

Looking for a new project car? Hagerty Insurance thinks vintage SUVs are the big thing coming as the prices for them creep upward. Yeah, I know. I hate the word vintage. Just say it - old. Old SUVs (which weren’t SUVs back in the day) are going to be the in thing to buy. Hard to believe considering the push for more ‘green’ gas conscious choices, but who doesn’t love an old Scout or Bronco. Along with Toyota Land Cruisers, 1970s and 1980s Jeep models have enjoyed a 93% increase insurance wise. So it looks like we’re in for a whole new group of auto restorers looking new old stock, or better, new parts for old heeps.


Read the whole story here.

Bestop Review

We found this review of Bestop from our friends over at 4WD Hardware, and thought we’d share it with you:

Bestop Provides Quality Gear

Bestop is the top producer of Jeep and truck accessories, soft tops, and many other products. For almost six decades, Bestop is the organization that offers equipment necessary in the marketplace that improves the image and performance of various Jeeps, trucks, vans, and sports utility vehicles (SUVs). For the last 50-plus years Bestop has given its customers quality assurance, customer support and logistics.

These are qualities not often seen in contemporary times. Bestop has been able to attain—and SUSTAIN—this degree of brilliance in product quality and customer service through conscientious effort, dedication, strong allegiance, and the ambitious yet cooperative spirit to gain favor with its loyal consumers and potential consumers.

The innovator of the modern Jeep top and the Bikini top, Bestop continues to reap accolades with its loyal customers by listening to their feedback. Bestop then has the administrative and manufacturing personnel on staff to navigate through the positive and negative, and update its parts to make for better performances. The enhancements and refinements provide more efficient, more secure and more comfortable treks along the roads for those who buy the Bestop brand.

The upgrades for 2013 are testament to Bestop’s dedication to its customer base and expanding its popularity to the casual consumer. The improvements include the Super Top NX (STNX) Black Twill and Replace-a-Top (RAT) Black Twill. The STNX is a new Black Twill fabric accompanied with a lifetime limited warranty (the singular soft top that can be purchased with a substantial warranty). The RAT is a Bestop-exclusive Black Twill fabric for the finest only replacement top. Each was created to fit 1997-2013 TJ, JK, and JK Unlimited.

These are just a short sampling of the many quality parts that Bestop has to offer. The organization is always geared towards gaining the dedication and admiration of its consumers. The leader in Jeep and truck accessories looks forward to several more decades of manufacturing fine services for its loyal and future customers. As Bestop’s 2013 catalogue says in its introduction: “If you’ve got questions and feedback, let us know. We’ve been here for almost 60 years. We’ll be here tomorrow.”

Joseph Wright is an SEO Copywriter with Transamerican Auto Parts in Compton, CA. He has been a professional journalist for over 20 years. He lives in Los Angeles.

European Jeepers Jamboree

Bestop sells a lot of product all over Europe: Jeep Wranglers aren’t as common as in the US, but the ones that are there are usually very nicely maintained as “weekend” vehicles.  Our European Sales Team is at the European Jeepers Jamboree in Saint Georges France, and Jim Chick, the Bestop sales and marketing director (ie “boss”) flew over to join in the festivities. Here’s his report:

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Wednesday

It’s VE Day in France, and it’s a public holiday, so most places are closed. Good to be an American in France on VE Day celebration. Around 11AM, we took to the highways to head north and west to the Calais area and Hesdin - St. Georges area, site of the Euro Jeepers Jamboree.

Taking 6 hours for a 3 hour ride we got both a combination of getting lost and spontaneously stopping. We stopped by “Jeep Village” a restoration and accessory shop just south of town; sure enough they were closed, so left my card behind and will try to circle back before leaving France.

Managing to get us in to some LA style traffic jams going the wrong direction, we had ample time to check out the cars and drivers around us. I vote Citroen as the most improved coming from the old 2CV to sleek and attractive sedans.

We whisked off the off the highway north of Paris to drive through an old town called L’isle de Adam.  Narrow brick streets, colorful houses and apartments, split by a river. Beautiful and clean town with a huge stable and arena area.

Our other “what the hell” stop was an Aviation Museum near Beauvais, where we found Michel the owner ecstatic to see le Americans in his cramped, but well done WWII museum. He has rounded up artifacts, pictures, stories, and a couple of planes from that period - the area was a French base, taken over by the German Luftwaffe and liberated by the US so there were lots of engines, landing gear, things you need for  aircraft flying and all the personal effects of occupying soldiers left behind in the actions between 1938 and 1945.

Back in our car and moving toward our destination through light rain, and voila:  Hesdin. Very pretty town sitting in low area and all the trees topped with gold sunlight as the sun was getting low in the sky.
Checked in at converted  “Le Clos de la Prairie” farmhouse Willem set up, about 12 miles inland from the Atlantic coastline.

Northwest France is rotten with beauty, green rolling hills, patched together with huge blankets of yellow blooming fields split here and there by large stands of dense, mature trees. Cue the horse and pheasant  just outside the hotel grounds seen off our patio.

Drove to the Jamboree site last night in time for some great steak hoagie, French style.  The event site is well-hidden in the French countryside and about 80 “teams” had already arrived and checked in for the week’s events.

Rain showers had mudded the access roads and lots of camping Jeepers from many countries were milling about and hanging out at the bar. Checked in with Willem, who was very busy working the registration area and answering questions.  Also ran in to our new customer ASG / Travall’s Paul Rowden and Britta Wood as they were finishing set up of their display for the evening.

Thursday

Awoke this morning around 6A to roosters crowing, cattle lowing on the far side of the valley and many cheerful bird songs of the crisp, chill dawn. Our horse is taking a sun bath.
Off to breakfast then Jamboree. Will send more pictures and stories from the Jamboree site later today.

Ten reasons why my Jeep (insert your Wrangler’s letters here) is better than the rest…

10. My Wrangler is bigger than yours and has a better stance.

9. My Wrangler’s ‘J’ sits in the right place in its designation.

8. My Wrangler’s headlights are the correct shape.

7. All the models after mine are for those who need plush interiors and comfort (sorry, JK owners, you’re stuck without another model to point at right now, hang tight though).

6. My Wrangler’s suspension is sprung correctly. Its flex far exceeds yours.

5. My Wrangler’s grille is angled and shaped the right way. It mirrors all that is right with the world.

4. My Wrangler has just the right amount of rattles and noisiness. It helps me connect with the road.

3. My Wrangler sports design improvements on past models making its offroad capabilities and highway drivability far superior.

2. My Wrangler’s cylinders are in the proper alignment to be right with the natural order of engines.

1. My Wrangler is better, nanny nanny boo boo…

Ken gets culture

Ken’s in the UK, and sent us a couple snapshots where he’s enjoying the local cuisine.