Once upon a time, pickup trucks were used for work, work, and only work. Sure, you could use them like a regular vehicle to help you get from place to place, but chances were high that if you had the truck out, you were about to get into some serious tasking.
Then, the mid-’50s roll around. Enter the new Chevrolet Task Force series pickup trucks, Chevy’s successor to the Advance Design series. The term “Task Force” kind of makes it sound like all of the trucks rolled up at your house at once, A-Team style. Sorry to say, that was not the case.
However, the Task Force series of Chevy truck was offered in various configurations and capabilities. From two 1/ 2-ton pickup offerings, to low cab-forward models with a gross vehicle weight of 18,000 pounds, there wasn’t a job that couldn’t be accomplished by the Task Force.
I Feel Like I’ve Seen That Pickup Truck Somewhere…
Very, very likely. The Task Force has a very 1950s look about it, which makes it one of the most coveted classic cars. Their versatility and tough design makes them ideal hot rods and restomods, too. You can do a lot of sweet things with very cool-looking pickup trucks like these bad boys.
Ford and Chevy have always had a bit of a rivalry, and in the 1950s, GM decided to step up their game with The Hot Ones, otherwise known as some of the most iconic Chevy trucks to date. To pull off this stunt, they needed a little extra time, so the First Series of 1955 pickup trucks are actually just more 1954 trucks.
The Task Force models kick off Chevy’s Second Series of pickup truck, including a new body style and loads of new features. The single headlight perched in the rounded sheet metal fenders, along with a wide, toothy grille, give these trucks a distinctive front end, which makes the Second Series very identifiable.
In fact, this series is often referred to as the “Stepside Series,” due to the key addition of an integrated bedside step between the cab and the rear wheel wells.
But Wait, There’s More
Innovation was key when it came to these Chevy pickup trucks.
The Second Series was the first GM pickup truck to include power steering and power torque-action brakes. Also on board were the brand-new “Sweepsight” front windshield. As the name implies, this is a wrap-around design, which provides a big window onto the road ahead. Deluxe cab versions also offered a wrap-around rear windshield, instead of the small portal that was common in pickup trucks of the era.
The “Glass Guard” concept was introduced in the Stepside Series as well. This exterior molding provided additional protection to windows, reducing the likelihood of shattering and breakage. Given that these trucks were intended to work really hard, this new level of safety was very much appreciated by drivers who had to battle a barrage of rocks and other projectiles.
“Concealed Safety Steps” were another new-fangled addition to the Task Force series of pickup trucks. Hidden behind the doors was an extra step to help drivers hop in and out of the truck with ease.
More Chevrolet Pickup Firsts
When it came to designing pickup trucks, most manufacturers leaned towards function over comfort. Chevrolet decided to change that up a bit.
One of the main areas drivers need a little support is in the seats. After all, you do need to drive the thing from place to place. Chevy added the “Nu-Flex” bench seats and optional “Airmatic” bench seats to the Task Force trucks. Decades ahead of their time, these seats included air pump style firmness adjustments, allowing drivers to create their ideal ride.
The V8 engine was another new endeavor in a Chevrolet truck. The option known affectionately as “The Taskmaster” was a 265 cubic-inch V8 that could provide 145 horsepower and 238 lb/ft of torque.
Chevrolet Task Force Options
There were many trucks that operated under the Task Force title. From the common Chevrolet 3100 series to a school bus chassis that could haul up to 54 students, there were plenty of options to choose from. Much like today, drivers had ample opportunity to get exactly the right Chevy truck for their needs.
A few features stand out. For example, the engines had quaint names. The Thriftmaster is an inline-6 that is incredibly common among Chevy vehicles produced between the beginning of time and today, though it lost its nickname somewhere along the way. The 123-horsepower Loadmaster was offered on the heavy-duty, 1.5-ton 4000 series, but came standard on the 6000 series. The 261 cubic-inch Jobmaster made 140 horsepower, and was an option only on the 6000 series.
Three synchro-mesh three-speed manual transmissions were offered, along with an exclusive Hydramatic automatic transmission in the 3000 series.
The Chevy short bed of the 1950s measured 6.5 feet, with a long bed optional at 7.5 feet.
The Chevy Cameo Carrier
One glamorous part of the Chevrolet Task Force truck series was the 1955 Cameo Carrier. This elite member of the Chevrolet 3100 series originally came in a two-tone white and red paint job and matching upholstery, which helps it stand out from the rest of the pack.
Packing a 114-inch wheel base and 6.5 foot short bed, the one-piece smooth-sided look of the Cameo Carrier was accomplished by adding fiberglass panels to the steel cargo box. Chrome was a huge component of this pickup truck, inside and out. Even the interior door knobs were chrome.
GMC offered their own version of the Cameo Carrier, known as the Suburban Carrier. It was essentially the same vehicle with a different grille and front bumper.
There are a lot of great moments in the history of Chevy trucks. But, when it comes to a classic body, the Stepside Series has plenty of clout. You may see these classic cars decked out as hot rods or sleek restomods today, but rest assured they were extremely cool even as they wheeled off the line for the first time. Complete with brand-new features and industry firsts, Chevrolet had created a pickup truck and cab/chassis lineup with the Task Force that set the stage for the Silverado trucks we know and love today.
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This post was originally published on May 5, 2021.