Differences Between Flareside, Stepside, Styleside, and Fleetside Truck BedsLast Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
If you’re a Chevy pickup fan, you’ve grown used to the terms Stepside and Fleetside. For Ford truck owners, it’s Flareside and Styleside. But the pros, and cons, of these two pickup truck bed styles remain the same no matter which name you use.
What Is a Stepside (or Flareside) Truck Bed?
Flareside, or stepside, trucks are the more traditional style, even though they’re uncommon in modern trucks. Essentially, this is the “two-box” pickup design. The cab and bed are bolted separately to a ladder frame, creating a clear division between them.
The bed itself is narrow with flares around the rear wheels. This creates a step right behind the cab, or a flare over the wheel. Hence the names.
Until 1956, this was what people meant when they said pickup. But when Ford unveiled the Styleside in 1957, the need for a name emerged. Ford started using the term Flareside, and in 1958 Chevy started using the name Stepside.
Though these are the only two names discussed often, each brand had to create its own name. For GMC, it was a Fenderside, a name they started using in ‘58, and for Dodge, last to the game in ‘59, it was a Utiline.
It’s pretty clear why Ford and Chevy’s names have been the ones to stick around. Of those, Stepside is what has been adopted by most other pickup truck manufacturers.
What Is a Fleetside (or Styleside) Truck Bed?
Styleside, or fleetside, truck beds were an unconventional and “new” style when they debuted. By integrating the cab and bed, pickup trucks looked like one unit. This was a departure from the typical “two-box” pickup design that dominated the preceding decades.
These trucks were introduced as Ford was envisioning a more diverse array of pickups that would appeal to everyone. Though pickups had once been solely used for farm and construction work, it was clear that anyone with stuff to haul (everyone) could find a use for a pickup.
Despite its more cosmopolitan appearance, the Styleside pickup was somewhat better-equipped for work. The bed was wider, and the wheel wells actually provided some added utility (as anyone who has ridden on one knows).
Other names for this style include Dodge’s “Sweptside” and GM’s “Wideside.” Stylesides are wider, so GM’s name might be the most appropriate. Styleside is the most enduring of these names. With no flaresides currently in production, these have become known as “straight” or “standard” beds, and have become dominant.
Fleetside/Styleside vs Flareside/Stepside
If you’re looking at buying a new F-150 or other modern truck, you don’t really have much choice. Pretty much all modern trucks are going to be stylesides.
If you’re looking at buying a classic truck though, you’ll have a wide variety to pick from.
Pros and Cons of Flareside Beds
Flaresides/stepsides will have a narrower bed, but it's also a perfect rectangle. They also don't have the humps associated with the wheels.
The bed’s right angles led to some of the more iconic styles of the ‘50s, like wood-slatted bed floors. Because no modern trucks have this look, it does emphasize the classic style of an older truck, and you’ll probably get lots of positive comments. The dramatic fender flares also tend to attract praise.
Pros and Cons of Styleside Beds
Fleetside/stylesides do offer more storage space (but avoid the unibodies if you plan to haul a lot). Many people looking for these styles are planning more performance-geared builds. If you want to lower or race your truck, these are definitely a better fit for that.
They don’t have as much character on their own as the flaresides, but that’s part of why they make such great choices for unique restomod creations. You also don’t have a built in step, but a trailer step can be added to make bed access easy.
Ford Flareside vs Styleside
For Ford, selecting Styleside or Flareside didn’t limit many of your other choices. In either style, you had the option of a long or short bed, and the option of adding 4WD or having RWD.
Long bed Flaresides weren’t produced in huge numbers, which can make finding parts difficult.
Chevy Stepside vs Fleetside
Fleetsides are valued significantly higher for Chevy. So, if you’re rebuilding with the hopes of selling, then a Fleetside is a good idea.
Otherwise, you should go with whatever one you like best. Tastes can be fickle, and it wasn’t that long ago that short bed Stepsides were the top-selling option. Short and long options are available in both bed styles.
Modern Styleside Beds
Ford stopped producing the Flareside in 2009, and GM/Chevy stopped producing theirs in 2005. So, after decades of having a choice between two body styles, truck buyers are once again left with just one.
Modern styleside beds have the same unified looks as their predecessors. Though many miss the iconic look of a stepside, a lot of younger buyers aren’t even aware there used to be many choices. With long beds also becoming increasingly rare, bed options may be more limited than ever.
Fortunately, classic truck buyers can pick their favorite bed style from over a hundred years of American truck history.