Turtle Top - Terra Transit - Atlantic Turtle Top - Independent Protection Co. - 1962-present - Goshen, Indiana


Diversity and innovation have been significant in the history of Independent Protection Company and its Turtle Top Division. The Cripe Lightning Rod Company, a predecessor company, was founded in the mid-1920’s by Henry H. Cripe and his sons, Earnest C. Cripe and Forrest G. Cripe. The company manufactured, installed and serviced lightning protection systems and began operations out of a barn located on the company’s present facilities in Goshen, Indiana. The company was sold to its primary competitor for a very high price, thirty days before the 1929 stock market crash.

Earnest C. Cripe established Independent Protection Company, Inc., during the great depression in 1934, in Goshen, Indiana, to manufacture and service lightning protection systems. Independent Protection Company continues to be a leading manufacturer of lightning protection for industrial, residential and historical buildings and trees. Earnest C. Cripe, a highly successful Goshen industrialist and a man of great inventiveness and drive, developed the first Turtle Top and Travel Gear Conversation for a cargo van in 1962. A principle part of this conversion was the exciting liftable roof (Turtle Top), which functioned so we was so completely free of maintenance or repair that it won universal acceptance. In 1963, the company recognized the tremendous potential of the travel and recreational market and the role that ordinary passenger vans would play. The development of the Turtle Top Division to its present diversity and innovative success was a joint effort of the late Earnest C. Cripe and his nephews, Robert and Richard Cripe who succeeded him as chief officers of the company. Robert E. Cripe Jr. son of Robert E. Cripe is currently corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Lightning Protection Division.

Independent Protection Company, Inc. is a closely held family business that has succeeded into the fourth generation of the Cripe family. The Cripe family is involved in all phases of the business and is dedicated to the Integrity and Quality that started with the late Henry H. Cripe and the late Earnest C. Cripe and characterized their business and personal lives. The company is fortunate to enjoy excellent financial strength and a sound reputation in the business community as a progressive, dynamic member of the automotive conversion industry.

Turtle Top has supplied the automotive industry with the highest quality, innovative conversions for over thirty-eight years. Today Turtle Top manufactures a variety of products, of which the most recent is the "VanTerra," a stylish 12-15 passenger bus built on Ford and Chevrolet cutaway chassis. Turtle Top also manufactures Limousine Coaches for 8-18 passengers, Executive Van Transporters, Computer Labs, Drug Testing and Dental Exam Labs, Veterinary Clinics, Bloodmobiles, Communication Command Posts and Prisoner Transport Vehicles, Mobile Offices, K-9 Transportation Vans and Specialty Vehicles up to 30’ in length. IN 1979, Turtle Top initiated production of the Terra Transit bus which provides convenient and dependable transportation for colleges, churches, nursing homes, retirement communities, transportation companies and government agencies.

Turtle Top’s vehicles are marketed through over thirty-five distributors located throughout the United States and Canada. Turtle Top/Terra Transit is a member of the Mid-Sized Bus Association and it has been approved as a Qualified Ford and Chevrolet Vehicle Modifier. Turtle Top has the distinction of being both Ford’s and Chevrolet’s oldest bailment pool company, and enjoys an excellent rapport with the Commercial/RV/Specialty Vehicle Departments in Dearborn and Detroit.

Quality was a keynote of the company’s early success; new and modern technologies combined with Turtle Top’s expertise and experience make it possible to offer quality state-of-the-art products to today’s customers. Quality, Integrity and good family values will make it possible for Independent Protection Company and its Turtle Top Division to provide the Transportation Industry with the BEST BUILT PRODUCTS IN THE INDUSTRY.



For more information please read:


Ed Strauss & Karen Strauss - The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Donald F. Wood - American Buses

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Susan Meikle Mandell - A Historical Survey of Transit Buses in the United States

David Jacobs - American Buses, Greyhound, Trailways and Urban Transportation

William A. Luke & Linda L. Metler - Highway Buses of the 20th Century: A Photo Gallery 

William A. Luke & Brian Grams - Buses of Motorcoach Industries 1932-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Greyhound Buses 1914-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Prevost Buses 1924-2002 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Flxible Intercity Buses 1924-1970 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Buses of ACF Photo Archive (including ACF-Brill & CCF-Brill)

William A. Luke - Trailways Buses 1936-2001 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Fageol & Twin Coach Buses 1922-1956 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923 Through 1943: Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Trolley Buses: 1913 Through 2001 Photo Archive

Harvey Eckart - Mack Buses: 1900 Through 1960 Photo Archive

Brian Grams & Andrew Gold - GM Intercity Coaches 1944-1980 Photo Archive

Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

John McKane - Flxible Transit Buses: 1953 Through 1995 Photo Archive

Bill Vossler - Cars, Trucks and Buses Made by Tractor Companies

Lyndon W Rowe - Municipal buses of the 1960s

Edward S. Kaminsky - American Car & Foundry Company 1899-1999

Dylan Frautschi - Greyhound in Postcards: Buses, Depots and Post Houses


2004 Coachbuilt.com, Inc. | Index | Disclaimer | Privacy