The Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia pop top is a great design. It is airy, sleeps two adults comfortably, and provides a great amount of standing and storage space while you are parked. A few of the downsides are poor storage while driving, and difficulty in insulating for winter camping. These downsides led me to install a high top. I had a great desire to store adventure gear and camping equipment while I was roaming the country. A high-top allows me to stow equipment, sleep, and stand with plenty of head space as I am 6' tall.
As I started my search, I found there were limited high-top sources in North America. One was to find a used Adventurewagen high top on Craigslist or The Samba but I was never lucky enough to find one of these gems. I started looking for new fiberglass high roof options. I found that there were only two companies in North America providing a high roof for the Vanagon. The first was Canadian High Tops who import high tops from England and export to the US from Canada. The second was Fiberine, a fiberglass manufacturer out of Los Angeles.
The imported high-tops looked great and had plenty of options, like carpeting kits and windows. The lines were clean and looked great on Vanagons but I checked into pricing and found these were too far out of my price range and my priorities for money were elsewhere. I also found that since these high-tops were imported from Europe there was going to be a long wait once my order was placed and a large amount of embodied energy invested in transporting from Europe.
I looked into Fiberine and found one negative review on The Samba. I contacted Rico, the V.P. of Fiberine to get details on their guarantee of quality. He assured me that the product quality was excellent. I continued to research the quality issues and tried to find first-hand experience with the Fiberine high roofs. I couldn't find anyone with first-hand experience, just a lot of speculation and opinion, so I continued to talk with Fiberine. The Vanagon mold was repaired and resurfaced since I showed interest in buying a top. Rico sent pictures of the fiberglass mold after the repairs and continued to offer his assurances of quality. I took the plunge and told Rico to proceed with the order and make me a high top – I would be there in a week to have it installed.
I live in Durango, Colorado so it is still a bit of a drive out to Los Angeles but a couple friends and I decided to make a Southern California road trip out of it. We arrived at the shop early on a Friday morning and I was able to look at the top while it was in the last stages of being buffed out for its final brilliant white finish. It looked great, so we started removing the camperspop-top. We were able to get the Westy top off in an hour and Fiberine immediately got to work installing the high-top. Rico shuttled us to the beach and when we arrived back at the shop 5 hours later the top was trimmed out and installation was complete.
The quality of the Fiberine top is great. It may not have all the bells and whistles of Canadian High Tops, but for the lower price I can trim out the high roof to my taste with windows, insulation, and interior trim. My criteria for a top were met completely. I can store my equipment while driving, sleep stealthily, and even stand up to cook without having to pop a top.
If you are modifying your Vanagon or Syncro into a camper with a high-top, I would be the first to say that Fiberine offers great quality with a low price tag and the customer service is supreme. I hope this review useful if you are in the market for a new top.