The “truck bed” is the rear flat surface surrounded by bed front and side walls, and closed up at the end by the tailgate.

Conceived for work, pickup trucks began their evolution in the early 20th century as simple, inexpensive, easy to repair, and utilitarian vehicles designed to haul stuff. To save weight, expense, and enable easy repair, the bed steel frame was finished with planks of broad leaf Southern (Ford used Northern) yellow pine.

A GM truck pine plank bed treated with with a dull black coating

The wood was usually soaked in creosote to prevent fungus and treated with linseed oil/coal pitch giving the bed floor a dull black color. The planks were held in place by metal skid strips also painted black. By the mid-50s, wood planks were often painted in the truck’s body color but the finish remained rough. Needless to say, manufacturers did not pay attention to the wood bed appearance as a key selling feature.

The fan base of the classic 1959-87 El Camino together with restorers of vintage pickups began to re-think the humble wood bed with stunning results.

Example of a beautifully restored El Camino wood bed

Instead of pine, restorations experimented with oak, ash, and other hardwoods. Planks were sanded smooth, stained, and then finished properly to handle a harsh environment.

We plan to use an aluminum bed floor, but there is room to add narrow wood strips cut to fit into the aluminum grooves.