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Posts Tagged ‘fleetside’

Introduction of the GM Fleetside

Thursday, February 11th, 2010


Though fleetside pickups are the common style today, they certainly had a unique appearance in the late 1950’s. Until then, the stepside body style with outside rear fenders was the norm. With smaller horsepower from available engines, the limited hauling capacity in the stepside box was well matched to the existing power plants.

If the customer required a pickup with more hauling volume, the stepside was simply made longer. To compensate for the extra gross weight, the manufacturer lowered the differential gearing. Thus the small engines continued to serve well but the result was a slower highway speed.

With the introduction of the Chevrolet high oil pressure 235 six and 265 small block V-8 engine, power was now available to allow for a radical new bed change. Pickup bed dimensions would be increased side to side in addition to length. Extra hauling capacity on the same wheelbase could be now handled by the additional horsepower. With the same wheelbase, an approximately 50% increase in bed capacity was created with GM’s new fleetside.

Both Chevrolet and GMC introduced the same fleetside in 1958. It came in both six and eight foot lengths on the 1/2 ton chassis. The eight foot box could also be ordered on the 3/4 ton frame. (If you needed a 1 ton pickup the prior long stepbed model still remained the only choice.) No doubt, these new fleetsides created much notoriety in a world of stepside pickups. To draw even more attention GM placed chrome die cast “Fleetside” lettered emblems toward the rear of each bed side.

This first GM fleetside box style was offered only two years until a redesigned side was introduced in 1960. The early bed 1958-1959 sides can be easily recognized due to their long 5″ wide horizontal spear stamped in the middle. These terminate at a unique round rear taillight which is also special to just this bedside.

A very deluxe optional model of this new fleetside was introduced in 1959. Some feel it was to replace the recently discontinued Cameo Carrier. It featured additional bed trim, stainless window moldings, chrome grill and bumper, plus a nicer interior. Its sides came with long stainless steel strips and die-cast ends beside the horizontal bed spears. This bed trim is very rare today! Unfortunately, the few original beds remaining make reproducing these horizontal trim strips financially impractical.

introduction gm fleetside 1

introduction gm fleetside 2

The featured early fleetside for this article is a 1959 Chevrolet short bed. Its owner is Olen Moore of Odessa, Missouri. He recently completed a three year ground up restoration to exact factory specifications. Olen even used the correct Galway Green, a very popular color during that era. Notice the stamped side spears and upper rear fleetside chrome emblems.

introduction gm fleetside 3

introduction gm fleetside 4

introduction gm fleetside 5

1965 GMC Deluxe Fleetside

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

During the mid 1960’s, most still considered pickups work vehicles. The manufacturer designed them as haulers and few people owned them as their only family vehicle. However, a slight change was beginning with truck buyers as Americans began to have more disposable income. GM and other truck producers were aware that extras on work vehicles were finding more buyers. Each year additional pickups with deluxe equipment were ordered.

This 1965 GMC 1/2 ton is an example of this trend. Though it obviously had been a work truck, it’s optional deluxe features still remain intact. Looking at the trim shows how GMC designers were careful in adding expensive trim.

To keep cost down they placed chrome on the hub caps and grill of their base model pickup. The stainless windshield trim is identical to that placed on the Chevrolet deluxe cabs. The long anodized aluminum side trim is also Chevrolet. One exception: GMC did not use the narrow shorter side trim as found on Chevrolet fleetsides that ran parallel to this longer piece. See photo comparisons.

Most aluminum cab trim is very basic in design. Straight pieces butted together kept GMC’s cost low. Only the chrome plated die cast emblem with the word “Custom” shows extra design effort.

The curved door window trim did require extra tooling but was made of anodized aluminum. Note this aluminum window trim as it runs parallel a few inches from the windshield stainless. The use of two different materials on trim so close is very unusual.

1965 deluxe gmc fleetside 1

GMC Single Trim Strip (above)

1965 deluxe gmc fleetside 2

Chrome Standard Grille (above)

1965 deluxe gmc fleetside 3

Window Aluminum and Windshiled Stainless (above)

1965 deluxe gmc fleetside 4

Econimical Side Trim (above)

1965 deluxe gmc fleetside 5

1962-1966 Chevrolet Lower Trim (above)

1965 deluxe gmc fleetside 6

Deluxe Trim (above)

1965 deluxe gmc fleetside 7

Economical Side Trim (above)

1959 Deluxe Trim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The bed side trim moldings were used on the second year Fleetside Chevrolet deluxe pickups for just one year, 1959. General Motors waited one year after the Fleetside introduction to give their dealers time to sell all their 1958 Cameos (The end of this model) so there was not two deluxe designs available at one time.

The bed moldings added much to the 1959 deluxe pickup. In addition GM used many trim features that were once on the 1955 and 1958 Cameo cabs. These side moldings came on both 6 and 8 foot bed lengths. Thus, this bed trim was the main new expense General Motors had in creating a 1959 deluxe Fleetside. (And these new Fleetside beds could carry more merchandise than a Cameo!)

 

1959 deluxe trim 1
Oops, this truck lacks the necessary red marker reflective decal behind the three vertical openings.

1959 deluxe trim 2
The right side bed trim package, (not including the tail light bezel)

1959 deluxe trim 3
Front die cast small spear.

test
1959 Fleetside NAPCO 4×4 “Better than New”!

1958-1959 Chevrolet vs GMC Trim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

With the new Fleetside bed design in 1958 the Chevrolets placed a chrome emblem on the bed side with the word “Fleetside”. However, GMC referred to this new bed as a “Wideside” to not copy Chevrolet. A Wideside emblem was never created, thus the GMC bedsides are without letters. (The horizontal bedside trim is a 1959 option).

(images by Ralph Wescot)
1958 1959 trim
1959 Chevrolet
1958 1959 trim 2
1959 GMC

Tailgate Trim

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

It was during these years that General Motors began offering more style to their pickup truck line. Though most still considered a truck as a work vehicle, a growing segment of pickup buyers were being strongly influenced by trim and accessories that even rivaled many automobiles.

For the first time on GM fleetside pickups, decorative trim became available on the tailgate of their middle and upper level models. Even on the basic gate that had no trim, the stamped letters were given a contrasting color. During all of 1967-1972, the middle and more deluxe series gates carried three upper strips making one line running the width of the gate. These three strips were the only tailgate trim offered for 1967-1968. During 1969-1972, an additional horizontal strip (66 3/4′ long) was attached to the lower gate edge but only on the middle series fleetsides.

It was on the top of the line 1969-1972 pickup that Chevrolet went all out in tailgate appearance. On the 1969-70 CST and 1971-1972 Cheyenne, the lower trim strip was replaced with a very attractive wood grained horizontal band at the center. Though it covered the basic Chevrolet and GMC stamped gate letters, the band carried its own chrome die cast letters over the wood (vinyl) decal.

The following photos show both the three styles of trim on the 1967-1972 fleetsides. Note the lower narrow strip is not placed on the gate with the wood band. Tail light rings or bezels are designed to harmonize with the tailgate trim. The 1967-1968 CST light trim is different than the later design.

tailgate trim 1

1969-1972 Middle Series (above)

tailgate trim 2

1969-1972 Cheyenne (above)

tailgate trim 3

1967-1972 Chevrolet (above)

tailgate trim 4

1967-1968 Chevrolet CST (above)

Fleet Side Steps

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

fleet side steps 1

The convenience of reaching cargo is ideal in a step bed pickup. The step between the cab and rear fender provides a place for the loader’s feet while reaching into the bed. Thus, this pickup is referred to as a ‘step bed.’

With the introduction of the fleetside box in the late 1950’s, there was no step. Placing cargo in the bed became much more difficult if added from the side of the bed. With some complaints, GM realized there was an opportunity to market a unique dealer installed accessory for this newer truck. A cast aluminum step was designed to actually fit into the fleetside sheet metal. Once the correct hole was cut in the bedside, the new step made access to cargo almost as easy as with the stepside. These were introduced in the mid or late 1960’s. They are a very rare item!

fleet side steps 2

fleet side steps 3

1959 Chevrolet Fleetside

Saturday, September 1st, 2001

Owner: Olen Moore – Odessa, Missouri

1959 chevy pick up truck

This month’s featured truck is a prime example of how an early Chevrolet Fleetside appeared when new. Few near 100 point restorations of GM’s early fleetsides exist today, so this little truck is a real attention getter. Looking at this like new pickup is as if going back in time. It is even painted the original Galway green, so popular during the late 1950’s.

The owner is Olen Moore of Odessa, Missouri. He has recently completed a detailed three year restoration of this fleetside. It had not been exposed to major abuse during its 42 year life and therefore was an excellent candidate for this exact frame off restoration. Most parts were still in place so there was no guessing as to how the truck should be reassembled. Of course, most parts needed replacing or restoring and Olens skill has made this pickup new again.

To keep it just as it was from the factory, Olen rebuilt its original 235 six cylinder engine and kept the column shift 3 speed. It drives just like new and nicely keeps up with traffic.

1959 chevy pick up truck 1959 chevy pick up truck 1959 chevy pick up truck

1959 chevy pick up truck 1959 chevy pick up truck 1959 chevy pick up truck

1959 chevy pick up truck