Many folks don’t understand the stepside pickup. At one time, that’s all you could get, until Chevrolet introduced the Fleetside on its 1958 model Apache. The shortbed stepside has been with us from the advent of trucks. But as the capabilities of trucks rose to meet greater expectation, the beds grew longer, and eventually wider. So why would anyone still want a Stepside pickup?
The short bed stepside has been about style and having a light, small runabout pretty much since the long beds became available. But longbed stepsides were all about work. Back in the good ol’ days you could order a custom grain bed for your pickup. A grain bed is a high-sided stepside, sometimes having a slanted floor but always having a tight fitting (sometimes lift out) tailgate. The reason for all this was ease of unloading. You ever try to get all those bits of soil from in front of your wheel wells? No problem in a stepside.
Up until 1972 you could order your Ford with a nine foot stepside. For what purpose? Aggregate, of course (gravel, rocks, dirt, mulch, grain, wood chips, etc). Aggregate was the forte’ of the stepside.
Having loaded and hauled plenty of firewood, I can tell you it’s a lot easier to load and unload a stepside than a fleetside. But what about that extra few feet of space gained on a fleetside, you ask? Well, if you are loading something long like plywood, or boards, you won’t actually get anymore in anyways. Now what if you wanted to carry some tools around with you? You could put a cross-box toolbox in your fleetside, thereby losing lots of space. Or you could put a toolbox on the step of your stepside, losing nothing.
Chevrolet was one of the last companies to make a true stepside long bed but they are very rare. So what about today’s “flareside” trucks? Well, none of them have a step big enough to accommodate a tool box, gas can, and/or spare tire. And some even have some of the wheel well extending into the inside of the bed! Those trucks are rightly called “styleside” bed trucks. Because that’s just what they are for, style, not work.
And that is what really killed the long bed stepside. a shift in the purpose of trucks. Who would want to put rocks in a forty thousand dollar truck?