Open Air – Jeep Tube Doors
Open Air – Jeep Tube Doors
By Justin Banner
One of the greatest things about Jeep CJ and Wrangler ownership is the ability to drive without the doors on and enjoy the open air. What if you wanted that freedom but with the added security of having something between you and falling out of your Jeep? That’s where tube doors come into play.
The original civilian Jeeps were based off the Willys-Overland MB, which was built under the requirements by the US Army in 1940. It had to be a vehicle capable of getting around hostile terrain, lightweight, and easy to get in and out of. That meant that some creature comforts were not used in the finalized design like a fixed roof or doors. Thus, the idea of what a Jeep should be was born.
Keeping the Occupants In
That’s not to say the MB didn’t have something to keep the driver or passenger from leaning out too far. It was basic, a strap like you’d expect to see for your seat belts, but this was how the occupants were kept in the Jeep while still allowing them to get into and out of the MB easily.
It also wasn’t like Willys-Overland didn’t have vehicles without doors. The 1946 to 1965 Jeep Station Wagon was not only a “Woodie” look but featured a pair of opening doors along with the Utility Wagon and Panel Delivery. While it initially had Jeep-like features, it wasn’t based on the CJ. Same for the Truck and the Jeepster. These were all “civilized” Jeeps over the CJ-2A and even the CJ-3.
The Jeep DJ-3A – the “Mail Jeep” – was the first Willys Jeep that had anything close to real doors on the non-military Jeeps. Well, they weren’t really doors that would swing out but instead they were sliding doors with extremely low floors on the Dispatcher versions of the DJ-3A. CJ-3As did have doors available but these were considerably basic ideas for doors with simple tubing and canvas or just steel pieces cut to fit the shape of the top and body.
Many times they were also aftermarket pieces with matching tops rather than Willy-Overland factory parts. Koneig, Willys New England Company, and even Sears made tops for Jeeps that were “factory approved” by Willys for the CJs. There are also many, many custom made doors and tops by those who were fabrication-inclined.
So, aftermarket doors have been a Jeep staple for nearly 70 years, offering options like half-doors, full-hard doors, and many others. This would even include tubular-style doors. Essentially, the idea is that it’s the most basic form of passenger retention without blocking the air or view of the front tires. In many ways, it’s the best match for a topless Jeep – tube doors look like they are a part of the roll bars the factory tops cover.
However, despite that simple premise, tube doors can expand into many different ideas that suit the looks and needs of the Jeep its going on. They can be extremely basic to some intricate designs on metal panels like flags, spider webs, and more. Some can even add functionality by adding additional pockets to the outsides of the doors.
The one thing to keep in mind is that most tube doors aren’t meant to be direct replacements for OE Jeep doors. At least not in terms of safety. Yes, they do work with the factory hinges and latches. It’s just that tubular doors typically don’t feature the same side-impact protection the OE doors offer. It is safer than running without doors but they won’t protect you if someone drives into the side of your Jeep with the majority of these doors.
Even so, it’s still a better choice to prevent people from falling out of the Jeep by leaning too far. Also, some side-impact protection is better than none.
Tube Doors for All?
Tube doors aren’t limited to just body-on-frame Jeeps. Many uni-body Jeep owners, like those who own the XJ Cherokee as well as ZJ and WJ Grand Cherokee, have made enough of a demand that there are options for them as well. This is especially true of XJ owners who regularly rock-crawl their Jeep builds. It gives them the ability to spot where they are placing their front tires just like it does a Wrangler with tube doors.
On top of that, the revival of the Ford Bronco is potentially bringing a revolution to the tube door. Recently, Ford submitted a patent in Germany (and a provisional one here in the US) for a door that uses its side-impact bars as a tube door. It does this – if the patent is being interpreted correctly – by unbolting the tube door frame from the door body. The hinges and latch assembly are then removed from the door body and attached to the tube door frame. This would be the first time a door side impact structure would be used in this fashion.
Again, that’s if we’re reading this patent correctly. Also, even as they file this patent, it doesn’t mean Ford will make it. It’s not uncommon for OEMs to create ideas like this and patent it to protect themselves, prevent a similar idea from being made, and/or get some royalties from it. At least from the sales side. It doesn’t prevent you from making your own, it just prevents you from making it and selling it for your own profit.
Interested in Tube Doors for Your Jeep?
Fortunately, we’ve got some of the most popular tube doors available for your Jeep. Be it EAG, Rancho, Rugged Ridge, or Bestop; be it a JL, JK, TJ, CJ; we have it and usually in stock ready to ship to you. Need help installing them? We’re ready to take your questions over the phone, via email and in our store in Ontario, CA.