Since the bed of your pickup is what defines it as a truck in the first place and we know you have long since given up hauling gravel, we've put together a collection of bed styles that we hope will inspire you. These ideas could be just the motivation you need to add that special personal touch to your truck. Each of these techniques typically features a combination of elements, like paint, upholstery, polished wood, or billet aluminum trim. Once the cosmetics were established, many builders used the bed to showcase innovative chassis mods, air or hydraulic suspension additions, or entertainment elements like a grouping of audio/visual components.
Whatever your preference, the bed gives you plenty of room to express yourself and enhance the personality of your truck. By mixing and matching some of the ideas in this collection, you can come up with endless combinations that will set your vehicle apart from the rest. Follow along and then give it a try.
1. Wrought Iron
"40 Layers" is owned by professional painter, Mike Ayers. The truck gets its name from Mike's habit of repainting his D50, a truck he's had since he was 16. The bed work is amazing, beginning with the latticework tailgate and true cantilever airbag suspension, accompanied by the flat-black fuel tank, reserve tank, and nitrogen bottles.
2. The Slippery Slope
Jevon Herbert designed angled bedsides with mini-tubs to clear the wheels on his body-dropped '00 Ford Ranger. The sloping sides highlight all of the elaborate chassis mods of this symmetrical arrangement that includes the rear fuel cell flanked by twin Viair compressors, angled shock absorbers, a triangulated four-link, and airbags all housed in a silver powdercoated frame.
In addition to the tubular back half added to this '99 Dodge Dakota, there is a unique, powdercoated silver bridge, a triangulated four-link, and airbags. But "Doogie" took it a step further, adding distinctive, sculpted sheetmetal work to complete the bright red package.
4. The Steamroller
Mike Kendall's '96 Ford Ranger boasts a ton of mods, beginning with the huge "steamroller" centersection and wheeltubs. The bed floor is now flat on the ground, and the tailgate is hinged from the side. Hard-lined compressors on both sides activate the suspension, and just for fun the suicided driver door now swings 180 degrees. Flat black and blue graphics complete the package.
5. Outside In
The beautiful blend of exterior colors on David Dekorver's mini extend into the bed, drawing attention to the innovative metalwork like the custom tubs and centersection that clear the wheels and rear axle. Angled reserve tanks provide plenty of power to the air suspension, and both the tailgate handle and fuel-filler cap were relocated inside. The intricate mural in matching colors keeps show judges intrigued.
6.Clean & Simple
There are lots of interesting ideas evident in Barry Miller's '87 Mazda B2200 like the free-form, red powdercoated bridge with airbags positioned under the wishbone. Lines for the 'bags were kept out of sight by routing them inside the tubes. Twin Viair compressors fill the large chrome reserve tank and also provide power for the pair of chrome train horns.
7. The Kiddie Pool
Sometimes, less is more. One of the cleanest beds we've seen in a while is this bright green, body-dropped mini from Woody Spooner of the club Xtreme Lowz. The '96 Ranger features a raised bed floor, welded tailgate, subtle LED taillights, and a relocated chrome gas cap.
8. The Steamroller Redux
Another clean installation from Xtreme Lowz is Tom Delaney's '86 Mazda. The body-dropped ride has a steamroller center axle cover, raised seamless bed floor, welded tailgate, and chrome twin hydraulic pumps with a single fluid reservoir on display behind the cab window. The exterior paint scheme was carried over into the bed.
9. I'm Seeing Red
Showing his admiration for the color red, Randall Harold's '99 S-10 keeps the bed clean using only custom metalwork to clear the wheels and axle. The sprayed-on bedliner, also in red, continues the theme. Even the slim LED taillights are red. Talk about some careful coordination!
10. The Smoothie
In this case, it's not what's in the bed that counts but rather the bed itself. Bianca Thorpe's '88 GMC S-15 is ultrasmooth thanks to the welded tailgate and tonneau cover that create unbroken lines. The four small taillights and angled license plate that rises above the tonneau are innovative touches. Multicolored graphics flow around the truck.
David Benjamin's '00 Silverado is equipped with a Cadillac front clip. To unify the theme, he has integrated the Cadillac crest into the red powdercoated bridge over the rear axle. Sprayed bedliner fills in all the seams of this body-dropped show-winner.
12. Like Glass
This silver and black Nissan carries the exterior paint theme into the bed, using a combination of silver paint and polished stainless steel for a dramatic touch. You know the craftsmanship is topnotch when the bed accurately reflects the clouds!
13. Pump You Up!
If you prefer hydraulics over air, the bed is the perfect place to mount the pumps. Adam Lovette squeezed four ProHopper competition pumps into his '87 Nissan Hardbody, along with tall struts for plenty of lift. Tubs and a tubular bridge painted to match, along with diamond-plate accents, complete the juiced package.
The combination of school-bus-yellow paint and whitewall tires gives the '86 Isuzu P'up of Kyle Gould a distinctive, old-school flavor. Frenched '40 Ford LED taillights blend old and new, but it's the elaborate sheetmetal work and extra long tubs in the bed that catch your eye. Notice the offset license plate in the smoothed tailgate.
15. A Little More Gas
Zach Lock's suicided '96 S-10 has its blue and silver paint scheme continued in the bed, with just a few touches of bright orange for emphasis. The pair of chrome Viair compressors fills the orange 5-gallon reserve tank, the freeform bridge adds visual interest, and the fuel cell provides a little competition flavor.
Although the bed of this Chevy has lots of interesting elements inside, it was the outside that got our attention. It was the first time we had seen Cadillac SRX taillights grafted on, and the effect is unique. Two-tone paint, shaved door handles, rigid tonneau cover, welded tailgate, custom roll pan, and those unique Caddy lights make Dale Evans' '97 S-10 hard to miss.
17. The Cylon
Carrying clean to the extreme, Adam Heglar's white S-10 has an ultrasmooth body with the bed welded completely shut. The '04 Escalade front clip gives the Chevy an elegant appearance, matched by the Cadillac crest in the rear and single, full-width LED taillight. This is not just another pretty face, because under the hood is a supercharged, 500-plus-horsepower V-6!
18. Hot Tub
It takes awhile to figure out what you're looking at since the mirrored tonneau on "DC Taco" shows you everything twice. This four-door crew cab with the rear doors suicided is loaded with detail inside and out. The flowing fiberglass enclosure in the bed accommodates multiple speakers and a large flat-screen TV.
19. The Woody
The bed is the perfect place to combine all of your hobbies. This owner was obviously a woodworker who enjoyed stereo and first-run movies. Highly polished wood trim, an audiovisual system in the bed and in the cab, along with a fullsize American Gangster poster on the tonneau cover make for a very personalized package.
The careful planning that went into this bed is obvious, beginning with the recessed fuel cell in the color-matched, Line-X'd bed floor. The polished reserve tank is fed by matched Viair compressors using symmetrically routed hard lines. For a little variety, the tubular powdercoated bridge spanning the rear axle is wildly asymmetrical. A.J. owns this custom-crafted '95 Toyota.
Carved ebonized trim pieces outlined with thin chrome strips separate the oak planks of author Joe Greeves' radical pickup. The inset 20-inch KMC SS rim and the SS logo airbrushed on the ZEX nitrous bottles repeat the Super Stepside theme. Up front, the forward compartment holds twin Optima batteries, the second Tsunami capacitor, a floor jack, and jackstands. Everything is lighted with StreetGlow neon at night.
22. Built Tough
Ken Williams' '98 Chevrolet C3500 dualie not only looks good, but it works hard. The huge C-notch and bridge with cantilever airbag setup uses a two-link below with a wishbone suspension above to put the big truck in the weeds. The 12-gallon reserve tank ensures that when the bed-mounted hitch is towing a trailer, the suspension will be up to the task.
23. Just Insane!
If none of these bed techniques is radical enough for you, try Jamie Kelley's solution. "Schizophrenia" is known throughout the East as one of the wildest bed dancers in the country. Working the elaborate combination of Z-racks and pyrotechnics is a two-man job, but it always pleases a crowd.
SPORT TRUCK TECH TIP
Convert your bed into a swimming pool!
We all know the best thing about having a truck is being able to haul stuff around while you haul yourself around. But as the old saying goes, life can't be all work and no play. What better way to cure the worktime woes than turning your hardworking truck into an instant pool party!
Gather your materials
Go to the local hardware store and buy a 10x12-foot tarp. In fact, buy two just so your pool can be puncture-proof or stiletto-heel-proof.
Fabricate and fill
Line your truck bed with the tarps. Don't forget to secure the tarp to the bed with duct tape or tie-downs. Once it's all secured, fill the bed with water. This may take awhile if you're filling it with a garden hose. A fire hose would be quicker. Use this time to find chicks that might be willing to go for a short swim.
No peeing in the pool
Enjoy the water and the chicks! Keep your cooler stocked to the gills with cold beer and girly drinks, and you're all set. For less than 20 bucks, you'll have the most popular truck anywhere you go.
The Final Word
A sloppy bed is a surefire sign of a man who's lost his mojo, and we can't think of a worse affliction to have than no mojo. OK, maybe if you had malaria that would be worse, but your truck could still look cool. If you still can't figure out what to do with the bed of your truck by now, then you need some serious help. We suggest watching the entire catalog of Fall Guy episodes on DVD, and then get out to your garage and have some fun with your Sawzall!