What is a Stepside Pickup Truck?

The lingo for classic pickup trucks can be confusing. Marketing terms for beds alone includes stepside, flareside, fenderside, utiline, thriftside, and sportside. Luckily, there are only two common types of truck beds. Fleetside pickup trucks have a modern bed, the outer edges of which are flush with the truck’s doors, and the fender wells of which are set back below the bed. Stepside trucks have a narrower bed and conspicuous, flared fenders. In front of these fenders, but behind the cab, they have room for a step to access the bed. This step gives the stepside its most common name.

What does stepside mean on a truck?

Stepside was originally a Chevrolet marketing term for its narrow pickup bed with flared fenders. While other automakers built similar beds, they used different names for them. But most classic truck fans refer to all beds of this style as stepsides.

A rusty Ford stepside pickup truck parked on a city street, a surfboard fixed in its bed.
Ford stepside | Ross Sokolovski via Unsplash

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The stepside bed was originally intended to reduce the amount of metal used in a pickup bed. This both made it lighter and cheaper. But many classic truck collectors believe a stepside bed improves the looks of an older pickup that has flared front fenders.

Here are some other names for this bed style::

  • Chevrolet stepside
  • Ford flareside
  • Jeep sportside
  • Jeep thriftside
  • Dodge utiline

What’s the difference between stepside and fleetside?

A stepside is a narrow bed with flared rear fenders. The outside of a fleetside bed–on the other hand–is flush with the truck’s door. Thus its rear wheels are recessed into the bed.

The bed of a blue colored Chevrolet fleetside classic pickup truck, trees visible in the background.
Chevrolet fleetside | Jelly Bean via Unsplash

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Because a stepside’s entire bed box must be narrower than its wheel wells, a stepside often has less cargo capacity than a regular (fleetside) pickup truck bed. But a fleetside bed’s cargo box often is wider than its wheels, and it has raised wheel well humps.

The fleetside is so much more common, few truck enthusiasts even know the term. Most people just call it a pickup bed. But when stepsides were more popular, automakers needed a term for the fleetside bed. Here were the most common ones, according to MotorTrend:

  • Chevrolet fleetside
  • Jeep townside
  • Dodge sweptline
  • GMC wideside
  • Ford styleside

Are stepside trucks still made?

Stepside beds are no longer a standard pickup truck option. Occasionally automakers have offered a retro-look truck with a small step set between the rear fender and cab. But for decades, this has been more of a design cue than a bed type.

A classic red Chevrolet stepside pickup truck parked in front of a tree, in a parking lot.
Chevrolet stepside | Jonathan Petersson via Unsplash

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What happened to the stepside? It was originally a way to save metal, thus saving money and weight. But as the weight of modern pickup trucks increases, the weight of an extra layer of metal in a truck bed is negligible.

What’s more, Stepside trucks look especially good on pickup trucks with flared front fenders. But as all pickup trucks went to a square body look by the 1980s, stepside beds began to look out of place.

Next, read about square body pickup trucks or see why stepside trucks fell out of style in the video below:

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