What an absolutely wonderful post!
Straight off...my very sincerest thanks for the detail which you've gone into. And the words you've used to encourage me; have no peer. Once again...my deepest gratitude.
First, the soft-top issue. I scoured every word of the Icon site which you'd posted, and there was a good deal of talk about the extraordinarily high quality of the top on some other sites I visited. I've had just one experience rebuilding a soft top Jeep...and that was a '52 Willys. Even then, I'd tried to make sure that the quality of the top was as good as it could get. Unfortunately, though...I drove that Jeep from Siachen to Lahore (over three days), and the top was an utter misery. Squeaks, rattles, hums. Not warm enough in the Northern Areas...and not cool enough in the Punjab. My sole experience: empirical proof of why I'm wary of locally made soft-tops.
The cost. As always, you're absolutely spot on. I'm being charged an enormous sum for the work. Bear with me though, that for a completely non-technical person such as myself, this is the DADDY of all rebuilds. I'm unlikely (if ever, given the looks I'm getting from my better half, these days) to attempt this sort of rebuild, again. The cost effects have been carefully considered. And I know...they're running on the VERY high side, already. I'm somewhat at peace with that. Not much...but enough.
Stability. I can appreciate what you're saying. It makes a great deal of sense. I have this feeling that this beast which has undergone such a hugely widened stance (close to 20 odd inches, and has the ability for 4 inches more), SHOULD be laterally stable.The real weight of the beast (thanks to that SOA that you recommended we do) continues to remain (by and large) low. This IS however, going to be a major consideration, when we come to the test and adjustment (T&A) stage. Factually, though, you're dead right. Chadar ki body ka wazan, tarpaal ke chath se ziada hi hoga. Khaam khaa.
Utility. An excellent point. Which is why this hard top will be fully removable. So as to allow for that sheesha-down experience, WHENEVER required. With a hard top, though, this will be able to remain an all-weather vehicle, should the need arise.
The Daala. As a matter of fact, I was thinking of NOT having a daala at all. just an arrangement at the rear of the chassis, to accommodate the spare wheel, a spare can, and maybe some tools. This daala, too, will be completely removable. Leaving nothing but the cabin, in terms of weight, should the need arise. For MOST off-road escapades, it'll probably be removed, beforehand.
The Simplicity Vs Sophistication Theorem. The cold, analytical pragmatist in me KNOWS you're right. The foolhardy, starry-eyed spirit (which actually PROMPTED such an ambitious build) refuses to accept that. Which is why (for the umpteenth time) I actually AM shifting the goalposts, in considering a soft-top option, in addition to the hardtop. Even if I were to keep Phantom a soft-top ALL the time, I'd STILL want to have an option of the hard-top, regardless.
The roll-cage. Yes. Absolutely. Without any doubt, whatsoever. Yes.
Your second last paragraph (and that photo you reproduced) have REALLY made this thread (and all the work and money that's gone into the rebuild so far) worthwhile.
Thanks for your attention. For the time-consuming and exhaustive effort you've put into explaining and outlining everything. I realise, it's because you're a gentleman, and a true sportsman, that you've done so. For that...thank you, friend. It means a great deal.