Gerstenslager bookmobile

1955 Ford Vanette with Gerstenslager Bookmobile conversion.

Multi-stop trucks (also known as walk-in delivery vans) are a type of light-duty and medium-duty truck created for local deliveries to residences and businesses. They are almost always forward-control vehicles, designed to be driven either sitting down or standing up, and often provide easy access between the driver and goods, hence the name "Walk-In Delivery" van. They are taller than full-size vans such as the Ford Econoline, Dodge A-Series/B-Series/Ram Vans, and Chevrolet G-Series vans, but can have wheelbases that are shorter than these models or longer.

Uses Edit

Though commonly referred to as "bread trucks" and "bakery trucks," trucks like these are used for delivering many other goods and services. Many have also referred to them as "Step-Vans" despite the fact that this was a name only used by Chevrolet (see below).

Another common group of users include electric power companies, both with and without cherry picker scoops. The ones with such devices tend to be half-cab vans. Occasionally they've been mounted with common truck bodies, such as bottlers. In the 1980s Frito-Lay bought fleets of them that were redesigned to tow light commercial 5th-wheel trailers. School and library systems frequently have used them for bookmobiles, when bus bodies are not preferred.

Partially due to their size, they have also been used as large ambulances. Subsequently, fire departments have also used them for this purpose, as well as for utility vehicles, radio command centers, canteens, and other secondary work. Police S.W.A.T. teams and other special units have used them as well. The opening theme from the 1975-76 police action TV series S.W.A.T. was noted for containing such a van.


The famous UPS Walk-in Delivery Vans

Postal workers also use them in larger deliveries. Parcel companies such as UPS and FedEx have used them for decades. Since 1966, Grumman-Olson has made UPS trucks designed excusivley for that company. Ice cream distributors such as Mister Softee and others have found these types of trucks to be far more suitable than cowl-and-chassis-based pickup trucks. Many have been converted into "Jitney" buses. Some are converted into motor homes either by manufacturers[1] or private citizens who buy used models.

Manufacturers Edit

  • Divco was making vehicles such as these from its inception. By the 1930s they gained short curved hoods and separated fenders. This design made them well known and remained virtually unchanged until 1986. By 1957, when the company bought Wayne Works they began manufacturing larger versions of these vans which did not contain typical 1930's design cues.

Chevrolet Step-Van used as a "Jack & Jill" ice cream truck

  • Chevrolet Step-Van and its twin GMC Value Van, were successors to the shared "Dubl-Duti" delivery vans. They had classifications as light as 1/2 ton trucks, and as heavy as 2 ton trucks. They've also offered stripped-chassis versions which can be used for made-to-order bodies. Motor Homes were built around Step-Vans & Value Vans; the GMC Motor Home (which was built between 1973 and 1978) was not related.[2]
  • International Harvester Metro Van was originally based on the 1937-40 D-Series trucks. One of the first models built was sold to the Czechoslovakian Army and destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.[3] In the 1950s, they began producing variations such as the "Metro-Lite," "Metro-Mite," and "Metro-Multi-Stop" vans. By 1972, all IHC Metro Vans were stripped-chassis that other manufacturers could build on, and after 1975, they were discontinued along with all other light-duty trucks except for the Scout, which was last made in 1980.
  • Ford Vanette was made between 1948 and 1965. It succeeded the Walk-In versions of the Ford F-Series trucks, and had the same grilles of the Ford F-Series from 1951-1955. After 1956, it retained the 1955 grilles until the model was discontinued and replaced with the Ford P-Series chassis. These models were stripped-chassis that could be fitted with made-to-order bodies, and often contained red crests on the grilles reading "Chassis By FORD."
  • The Dodge Route-Van was made between 1948 and 1951. It was succeeded by the Dodge Door-to-Door Delivery Van, and was itself replaced with the Dodge P-Series, which like the Ford P-Series were stripped-chassis that could be fitted with made-to-order bodies. Chrysler manufactured these models until 1979.
  • Willys produced the Walk-In Willys Van from 1941 to 1942, which were based on the 441 trucks. After World War Two, most of Willys' truck manufacturing was concentrated on Jeeps, although Jeep did offer walk-in delivery type bodies for some of its pickups. Under ownership by Kaiser, Jeep built the FJ-3, FJ-3A, and FJ-6 delivery vans, and in 1975 AM General built the Jeep FJ-9.
  • Studebaker had walk-in delivery vans. In 1963 they added ZIP vans, which existed until the company collapsed in 1966.
  • White Motor Company originally built the White Horse from 1939 to 1942. Later, they built the White PDQ Delivery van between 1960 and 1966.

As of today, most manufacturers of these types of vehicles build them on existing chassis made by General Motors, Ford and Freightliner Trucks. These include such companies as Utilimaster and Morgan Olson (a company once owned by Grumman). Boyertown has built this type, referring to them as "Step Vans".


Smallwikipedialogo This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Multi-stop truck. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

  1. 1967 Chevrolet Step-Van Adventureliner 19'
  2. [GMC: The First 100 Years, by John Gunnell]
  3. [International Trucks, by Frederick W. Crismon]
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