The history of the Ford F-150 Styleside 4WD goes back for over half a century. It goes back even further, indirectly. The first four wheel drive vehicles were made in the 1800s. The invention of four wheel drive is shrouded in mystery. We do know that four wheel drive pickup trucks became popular shortly after World War II, based on the popularity of the World War II jeep.
In 1948, Ford came out with the first F Series pickups. The half-ton was labeled the F-1, and was the direct ancestor of the modern F-150. That first year it was available in Marmon-Herrington All Wheel Drive. Ford went through two generations of F-150 with this version of four wheel drive.
In 1950 the second generation F-Series came out, without much change, but the new name for the half-ton was the F-10. Finally, in 1957, it all came together. Well, except for the name. That year Ford made major changes in the design of the F Series half-ton, and called it the F-100.
The first change was to the body of the pickup, itself. Prior F Series pickups had the narrow, raised hood one associates with antique pickup trucks. The 1957 model went to the modern, broad hood that stretched the width of the body.
Antique pickup beds were as distinctive as their hoods. In the early days of pickup trucks, the cargo beds were narrow and the rear fenders stuck out on the sides. Then Chevrolet came out with a pickup bed that was flush with the side of the cab, but the inside was just as narrow. In 1957 changed all that with the Ford Styleside.
The Styleside was the first pickup to significantly widen the inside of the bed, adding up to three times as much additional cargo space as similar looking vehicles by other companies. The difference was simple. Where other companies had, essentially, just created one long fender, Ford used a single sheet of metal for each side of the bed, flush with the side of the cab.
This new bed configuration actually left the wheel-well inside the bed, and Ford covered it, narrowing the bed in the middle, but not along the entire length as other pickups of similar design did. The additional space was stunning, and remains the standard to this day. In their time they outsold every other pickup on the road.
The first F-150 came out with the sixth generation F-Series in 1973 and was considered by Ford to be their "heavy" half-ton pickup. That remained the designation until 1987, when the eighth generation F Series took the name F-150 for the whole line of half-ton pickup trucks. With that, the Ford F-150 Styleside 4WD had come to complete fruition. The F-Series pickups are now in their eleventh generation, and are still the most popular full size pickups on the road.