Bed Swapping
I have an '86 Chevy C10 Fleetside shortbed pickup. I'd like to swap the bed for something newer and more stylish. I've seen my era trucks and even older ones with Stepside beds from '90s GM pickups. Some look better than others, but I'm not sure why.

I've even thought about swapping on a bed from a Ford or Dodge pickup. Do you think this would work? How can I tell which beds would fit? I'd appreciate some suggestions.

Thanks and keep up the good work on an awesome mag.
Kyle Schlesinger
via e-mail

We've seen lots of newer beds installed on older-generation pickups. The most popular bed for swapping seems to be the '88-and-later Chevy/GMC Sportside box. We've never cared for the stylized "steps" on either side of the fender. We much prefer the '73-'86 Stepside box, but that's just us.

Personal preferences aside, the biggest problem with bed swaps is making the body lines of the old cab work with the lines on the newer bed. Spend some time studying the lines of your truck and those of any truck you're contemplating using a bed from. Each cab/bed combo works very well as designed, but they rarely, if ever, match up between truck series.

Another big problem with bed swaps is the wheelwell openings. We've seen '88-and-later Sportside beds installed on '67-'72 C10s and the mismatched wheelwells stuck out like sore thumbs. The '67-'72 wheelwell is rounded, and the '88-and-later Chevys have rectangular openings. A truck that got this bed swap right did so by grafting '88 wheelwells to the '67-'72 front fenders.

One way around the styling line mismatch problem is to counter it with a two-tone paint scheme. Your truck has a very distinct styling line that runs above the front wheelwells and across the middle of the doors. If the paint was two-toned at this point and carried on to the newer bed, that would disguise styling line problems. Using black or another dark color on top would be a good choice.

Bed width is a potential problem, although GM bed sizes are relatively constant. Using a Ford or Dodge bed could be more problematic. Mounting a different bed isn't a problem, though. A little drilling or bracket fabrication should handle any mounting differences.

Wheelbase differences can be a big issue. A lot of measuring should be done before attempting a bed swap. If there is a noticeable problem, you'll probably need to alter the rear axle location. If you're installing another Fleetside-style bed, it's easier to cut and relocate the wheelwells. You could move the fenders on an older Stepside, such as using a '73-'87 box on a pre-'73 truck, but this could effect the bed/fender proportions. Newer Sportside beds with their integrated fenders would be tough to move.

A good way to explore bed swap options is to enlist the help of a professional illustrator. They can do sketches to show how proposed swaps would look.

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