What's the deal with "Flareside" pickups?

Okay, I’ll admit I don’t get it - all the “flareside”, “stepside”, “sportside” (etc.) pickup trucks. As the owner of a “regular” bed pickup truck, I can’t see for the life of me why you would buy a PICKUP TRUCK that had:

a) the same turning radius
b) the same external dimensions
c) the same wheelbase

as a normal truck, but with LESS payload space. I mean, maybe I’m overly simplifying things here, but one of the main reasons to buy a pickup is to throw stuff in the back, right? So why would you want to limit yourself by having a smaller truck bed?

Can anybody explain this to me?

It’s a retro thing to when all pickup beds were the “stepside” style. No one makes a true stepside anymore so that’s the mostmodern substiture. Let’s face it, pickups where getting pretty dull and boxy unitl Dodge came out with something out of the ordinary a few years ago.

I believe “stepside” pickups originated as a way to haul horses around in the bed of a pickup without the horses tripping over the wheel humps in a regular pickup bed.

Actually, what I’ve been told is that originally, stepside pickups were made because they were easier to produce - you just needed a big rectangular box for the bed, and bolt on some fenders. The “flatside” (don’t know what they’re really called) pickups require a little bit more complicated tooling to bend the sheet metal into the right shape to accomodate the wheels.

But that still doesn’t answer why the stepside versions seem to be getting more popular, when they are less useful.

I think Padeye was pointing you in the right direction. It’s a question of style or aesthetics. And that will sell cars. After all, a Ford Mustang is a marginally practical vehicle when compared to what else is out there.

I do know that “fleetside” is the name for regular bed pickups. I have no idea why anyone would want to own a stepside for other than looks, although they are easier to get into the back.

I’ll second the opinion that the step-side style is purely aesthetics anymore. As for all the variants of the names, like Sport Side, Flare Side and whatnot, I’m sure those are registered trademarks of the respective manufacturers. Same goes for Four door pickup trucks where Chevy and Ford call them Crew Cab and King Cab.

Personally, I think the flare side designs are all ugly. But the undisputed winner of the Ugly Ass Truck award goes to the early '90s Ford Flaresides. Those brilliant designers at Ford managed to draw every curve on those trucks using only rulers.

“Easier to get in the back” is a selling point for me. I’m on the short side, so tying down a load can be difficult when my arms don’t reach over the side very well when I’m standing on the ground. Having that notch on the side where I can stand and reach into the bed acutally increases the utility for me. It’s either that or carry a step stool around with me. Yeah, the bed is slightly smaller than other trucks, but the capacity has been more than adequate for my needs.

If you’re six feet tall maybe this isn’t a problem for you.

I’m 5’3", and I always stood on the tire or got right into the bed if I had to tie something down. Worked fine. (Now we have a cap on it, so I am the designated “crawl around in the back” person.)

I, too, think the stepsides look dopey–but then again, I think my truck is the height of gorgeousness. Primer black spray-paint, baby!

I think they make a little more sense than people buying a full bed truck or even a dually and turning into a low rider so they can’t put anything at all in the back. I did like the one Dodge made years ago though, with the stacks behind the cab… The Lil Fire Truck or something like that, wasn’t it?

That would be the Lil red Express. Here are some pictures of it:

Hehe… I’ve heard it said that Ford is now losing some of its design “curviness” since switching to the CAD system “Ideas.” (Look at the round, obsolete-in-N.A. Escort compared to the current, flattish Focus). The reason: “Ideas” is incapable of drawing curves!

My old '47 Hudson pickup was, interestingly, about halfway between stepside and fleetside. The sides of the bed were right over the tires, and there were both wheelwell humps inside the bed and shallow fenders bolted onto the outside of the bed. Sounds weird but was very handsome, since the bed was wide and low looking.

The bed was also very long, a good solid eight feet, so there was this lovely long hood out front (the Hudson sedan, with which my pickup shared front sheet metal, had an optional straight-eight engine), a shortish cab, and then a long bed out back. Had lovely proportions, but overall it was so long that when we were in the market for a new house, the first stop on every walk-through was the garage with a tape-measure in hand.

The Lil Red Express… That’s it. Thanks Mike.

I always thought that was a pretty sweet looking truck.