Home » The Midbox Is The Greatest Ford F-150 Feature You Can’t Get Anymore

The Midbox Is The Greatest Ford F-150 Feature You Can’t Get Anymore

Ford F 150 Midbox Ts2
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The Ford F-150 is a great work truck that can be spec’d with all kinds of great features. You can get one today with heated seats, smart driving assists, and a knob for backing up trailers. But there’s one obscure feature you can’t get on an F-150, not anymore. Enter the MidBox.

The MidBox aimed to solve a common problem for truck owners by providing lockable storage that was both convenient and accessible. A pickup bed is great for all kinds of loads, like dirt, sheetrock, concrete, or lumber. But when it comes to tools, a pickup bed is actually a pretty shitty storage solution. You can throw your toolbox in the bed, but it’ll slide around all over the place and get beat up. You can tie it down to one side of the bed, but you’ll always have to awkwardly lean in to get to it.

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But what if you had some kind of lockable storage that was easy to get to, maybe on the side of the bed? As it turns out, Ford used to offer just that. Sorta, kinda!

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Nifty, right?

Stash It

The MidBox came to the F-150 lineup in 2008, right as the 11th-generation F Series lineup was drawing to a close. the concept was simple. It was a box that lived in the middle of the truck, between the cab and the bed. To make space for it, Ford fitted standard 5.5-foot beds onto the back of long-wheelbase trucks which would normally have 8-foot beds.

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This left a nice, nearly 2.5-foot wide gap in which the Midbox could live. On each side of the vehicle, the MidBox had a swinging door for access, hinged towards the rear of the vehicle. The doors were weather-sealed and had Ford OEM door handles to match the rest of the truck. The MidBox could be locked and unlocked with the truck’s regular key, or with the keyfob if central locking was fitted.

Inside, the MidBox offered 26.3 cubic feet of storage in its standard configuration. It could be used as a single open cavity, somewhat similar to the gear tunnel on today’s Rivian R1T. However, the MidBox was more commonly marketed as a useful place to fit drawers, with two, three, and four-drawer combinations available. It could also be had with a single slide-out tray on either side, or a center divider panel to split it into two distinct volumes.

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The whole goal of the MidBox was to provide secure storage on a pickup truck that was also conveniently accessible. Thus, it made great sense for applications like tool storage, since the MidBox compartments could easily be accessed just by walking up to the side of the truck. There was no longer any need to lean over the pickup sides to reach into the bed to awkwardly grab at cargo.

Other applications included storage for hose reels and even liquids. There were unconfirmed stories ahead of the MidBox’s launch that they were developed for companies that needed to keep different chemicals separate during transport. Thus, the lockable MidBox compartment was useful to provide a properly separated storage location in addition to the main bed.

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Look! There, In the background!

 

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MIDBOX!!!

The option was “new for 2008” and touted in Ford’s brochures for the F-150 that year. However, the MidBox wasn’t something that Ford actually installed itself. Instead, it was a “ship-thru” option. For vehicles ordered with the MidBox Prep Package (RPO Code 55M), Ford would prepare Regular Cab or SuperCab trucks on the production line with the 5.5-foot bed. They would then be shipped off to a company called SVE Commercial Products to have the MidBox itself fitted to match the rest of the truck. The parts were considered aftermarket accessories and were warrantied by SVE itself.

Origins

The story of the MidBox’s origin is muddled and murky. Ford filed for a patent in 1998 under the name “Vehicle Bed Trunk Compartment”. The patent was granted in 2001. It described a MidBox-like cargo space, accessed via doors in the side of the bed. However, this patent differed from the MidBox in one major way. It was a structure that was built inside of the existing pickup truck bed. In contrast, the actual MidBox was a separate unit fitted between a regular 5.5-foot bed and the cab.

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A very grainy 2007 SVE brochure remains online.

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The MidBox as we know it appears to have been created by a company known as SVE Commercial Products. That company was partnered with or a subsidiary of Magna International and/or Decoma International. As a “second-stage” manufacturer, SVE’s business was in adding accessories or customizations to vehicles for major automakers. This was commonly done for options that were too complex or different to include on an automaker’s regular production line.

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Whoever made this brochure was alright at layout, but they got the images all wrong. Every embedded photo is supremely low in resolution.

This video on SVE’s business features a few snapshots of the MidBox.

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A fragment of an old SVE flyer.

The MidBox wasn’t just a Ford thing, either. SVE also had a version that suited the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.  In fact, SVE had a site up at MidBox.com as early as 2005, which it used to market the product directly to commercial buyers.

It was only later that it became a Ford option. Prior to its official launch in the 2008 F-150 brochure, rumors of the MidBox abounded thanks to spy shots taken in early 2007. However, it was reported under a different name. AutoBlog reported it was rumored to launch as the “Tough Box,” and that it would be built by Decoma International. The outlet compared it with the MidBox product from SVE, which was then available for the Chevy Colorado and the Ford F-150. AutoBlog didn’t realize SVE and Decoma were related and that the Tough Box and MidBox were essentially the same thing. In any case, when Ford went public with the feature, it was under the MidBox name.

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SVE also offered a MidBox for the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.

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The MidBox was made available via GM’s fleet arm.

Epilogue

SVE didn’t hang on to the MidBox forever. A company called Steelweld Equipment Co. purchased the rights to the MidBox in 2009. It would go on to market the product under its own name, while the relationship between MidBox and Ford grew less direct quite quickly. 2010 is the last year in which the MidBox Prep order code featured in the brochure for the 12th-generation model. After that, the MidBox name was not mentioned by Ford again.

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Steelweld would carry on with the idea for some time, with their website featuring the MidBox product until at least 2012. The company also became a certified installer of Compressed Natural Gas equipment. Funnily enough, MidBox seemed the perfect solution for installing a CNG tank in pickup trucks. By putting the tank in a MidBox, it wouldn’t be an eyesore in the pickup bed, nor would it compromise the bed’s use for loose bulk material. Ford actually applied for a patent on this idea in 2008, which was granted in 2013.Screenshot 2024 05 17 165608

The idea was sold again, with Caseco Manufacturing picking it up in 2012. The company was offering MidBox cabinets for the F-150 of the 12th-generation F-Series. Their brochure from 2013 is one of the best-preserved resources on the MidBox. The company marketed the MidBox in concert with its range of bed toppers to add further storage and utility.

As covered by FleetOwner, Caseco was even exploring MidBox solutions for the Ford F-250 and F-350, as well as the Chevrolet Silverado. Notably, the Caseco MidBox website also hosted photos of a CNG tank in a MidBox-equipped truck, though not of the full vehicle.

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Caseco’s brochure touts the benefits of the MidBox.

The story of the MidBox peters out around 2015 or so. It had spent a decade or so floating around the truck market as an aftermarket storage solution. However, it had failed to catch on in any big way.

It’s not like it didn’t have a chance, either. Ford gave the MidBox significant brochure space in 2008, but it didn’t really catch on. It may have been hamstrung by the fact that neither dealers nor customers wanted to deal with the hassle of ship-thru orders. Or, it may have been that it simply didn’t appeal.

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Ford wanted to put CNG tanks in MidBox compartments, and patented the idea.

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These photos from Caseco show a CNG tank inside a MidBox compartment.

The biggest drawback of the MidBox was that it required customers to give up significant bed space. While some may have been happy to compromise and settle for a 5.5-foot bed, for others, an 8-foot bed would have been more desirable than a little tool storage compartment.

There have been plenty of trucks that offered interesting bedside compartments over the years. Heck, even the Ford F-150 did so all the way back in 1975. Ultimately, though, they’ve never really caught on. Many owners prefer to just have a regular bed without any fancy additional storage cubbies.

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Caseco marketed the product for the 12th-generation F-150 but it still didn’t catch on.

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The MidBox may not have been a hit with customers, but it still exists. Every so often, you might see a used Ford F-150 or a Chevy Colorado pop up with those nifty bed-side doors. If you see one, you ought to grab it, because they’re far from common, and they’re probably not coming back.

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Image credits: Caseco, Steelweld, SVE, Ford

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Mihela816
Mihela816
1 month ago

I worked at a Chevy dealership parts department and had a customer come in looking for a key cylinder for a Colorado midbox back around 2009 or so. It ended up becoming a complete nightmare because there was an early and late design door with different cylinders. The old style door was discontinued, and I had to order an entire door from SVE, which took 6 months to come in. All because some idiot threw the cylinder away in the middle of a body shop repair.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

I saw one those a couple of months back and wondered what it was. I couldn’t get a picture of it though. It had a flat white tonneau cover up to where the mid-box ended.
I notice that none of the pictures here show the top of the mid-box and whether it extended across the width of the bed,

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