Truck YeahThe trucks are good!  

Everything old is new again, and now GM’s reviving a retro pickup truck trend with that killer Trail Boss roll-bar. Which reminded me; anybody miss those factory-flared pickup truck beds?

Flareside (on a Ford, or “stepside” if you’re talking Chevy) refers to those skinny beds with outward bulges around the rear wheels. Instead of having the sheet metal go straight back from the doors and tucking the wheels into the bed, these flared beds bring the cargo gunwales in and make room for extremely pronounced fender flares.

Whatever you want to call ‘em these beds obviously incur a penalty on storage space, but we’ve all made dumber sacrifices for vanity. I guess people just got bored of the look and it went the way of the window louver. That said, these beds were part of pickup truck culture for a lot longer than anybody was putting those shutter-shades on the back windows of cheap hot rods.

Flareside and stepside beds were basically the default back in the 1950’s and earlier, when trucks had skinny cabs and the “bulges” were added to make the rear wheels line up with the fronts, kind of like this:

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By the 1970’s, trucks were hitting “peak-square” but the bulging bed fenders were still pretty commonplace as options. Not only did these beds stick around through the 1980’s, but they were still being put front and center as evidenced by the second-generation Ford SVT Lightning of the late 90’s and early 00’s.

Chevy Silverados had the stepside on to the option all the way through the “angry-eyes” era of the mid-2000’s, and you could order it on a Ford F-150 until as recently as 2009.

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But not anymore.

I, for once, an conflicted. I like the idea of the flareside bed, I feel like it should look sweet.

Based on the way truck cab design has evolved, I’m thinking the last truly great looking flared bed trucks were the Fords and Chevys of the early 00’s. The F-150s in particular were so bubbly all around that the extra curves in the bed really made the whole design come to life.

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Not that it really matters, since bulging beds are completely off the order form at any truck dealer these days.

But would anybody like to ‘em come back, or is modern truck design just too far departed to have the flareside/step-side style make any kind of sense?

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Images via Ford, John Lloyd/Flickr, Sensei Allen/Flickr


Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.