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.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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!

Cleanford150
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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Screenshot 2024 05 17 181050
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.

Screenshot 2024 05 17 At 7.25.04 am
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.

Screenshot 2024 05 17 162857
SVE also offered a MidBox for the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.

Midbox Storage Page 1 Image 0001a

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Midbox Storage Page 1 Image 0001b
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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Screenshot 2024 05 17 180111
Ford wanted to put CNG tanks in MidBox compartments, and patented the idea.

Cng Setup

Cng Setupfront
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.

 Sam0124redonesmall (1) F 150 Pictures 061redone (1)

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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Mr E
Mr E
2 months ago

The vast majority of F150s are crew cabs with the short box. Any person or company buying a regular cab with an 8′ box probably needs all 8 feet.

Also, bed mounted tool boxes are a cheaper option, although slightly less convenient for access.

I only see L Packs on dump truck chassis these days.

Aside from the fact that I’ve never seen an F150 like this, ’twas a neat idea!

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
2 months ago

I think it failed because of the rise of the Crew Cab. If you’re going to have a 5.5ft bed, you might as well have lockable storage and a whole second row of seats.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
2 months ago

Interesting. I’m surprised I had never heard of this one. When shopping my work truck, new in 2018, it was roughly $35k. I looked at service bodies, but they were $10k extra. Plus, existing owners told me that they rusted out by the time you pulled off the dealer lot. No sale.
Did this article not mention how much the mid box was? That certainly could have an affect. Also, the point of loosing a significant amount of bed space, is a pretty big factor. Lastly, this was coming out right when the market was shifting to crew cab trucks in a big way. They are obviously marketing these to commercial and municipal buyers, but still, that’s a very small slice of the pie.

Kalieaire
Kalieaire
2 months ago

rip the midbox, but tbh, i need a flatbed with a liftgate more than bed storage.

The Toyota Hilux Champ is the perfect affordable option for hauling pallets and gear, but we can’t get that here.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago

Is “ship-thru” also the descriptor one would give to cargo van upfits, like bulkheads and ladder racks?

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
2 months ago

Until truck bed sides got to be so tall, cross-bed truck boxes did pretty much the same thing, for less money, while preserving space underneath to slide in longer stuff. Combine that with crew cabs offering a bunch of secure storage (If you delete/remove the back seat), again without extending the overall length, so much. https://images.thdstatic.com/productImages/9c274a4f-1920-4212-b167-cb691177c025/svn/husky-crossover-truck-tool-boxes-102101-53-01-31_600.jpg

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Zavist

After that, getting either a van or a full cap makes more sense if one requires secure storage.

Paul B
Paul B
2 months ago

Another twist on the idea:

Take a full size bed and make a “tunnel” at the front elevated from the floor. Stick doors on the sides and add drawers/pull out trays.

The space below the tunnel would still full length for 8′ long goods.

If you’re loading enough plywood, drywall, etc. to get to the top of the box on a light duty truck, you’re likely over payload limits anyways. That’s what delivery is for from the materials yard.

SBMtbiker
SBMtbiker
2 months ago

Rivian has done this better with their gear tunnel which doesn’t take up any bed space. It also has a big frunk to boot! Traveled with four people from the Rivian plant to Cali, and had all our luggage locked up. Nothing in the bed!.

Curtis Loew
Curtis Loew
2 months ago

Now I want to get a crew cab add the midbox plus an 8 foot bed and build the longest F150 ever.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
2 months ago
Reply to  Curtis Loew

100% this. Then tow one of those trailers that is just the back half of a matching pickup for the ultimate glitch in the matrix!

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
2 months ago

I forgot this was ever a thing. The 2000s were an interesting time for creative bed solutions. The RamBox was mentioned below but the Avalanche had bins in the sides of the bed accessed from the top first. The Nissan Titan had lockable storage aft of the left rear wheel, and of course the Honda Ridgeline trunk. Most development in recent years has all been to tailgates, with all the multifunction options (and on that note I didn’t realize the Ford tailgate step was also around this time, I thought that was in the 2010s too).

I imagine a few things worked against it. Fleets probably didn’t want to spend the extra cost for the option was probably a big one. But while it seems convenient I imagine it’s less so if you have to keep walking back and forth from the side of the truck back to the bed. If you’re storing things in drawers you probably want a dry/covered area to access them rather than from outside. And/or have the stored items mobile, so you can carry them further in/on to the actual site where you can’t squeeze a pickup truck.

Also I could see it being a way they might have been hedging against full-size van development. Ford’s vans were the oldest design among full-sizers – GM’s were a little newer with a few more updates, DCX was selling the Sprinter, and Ford had no update on the horizon and the Transit didn’t come for several years. This offered more options to make a pickup work for the job, but that draws back to having covered area to access the storage too.

Baja_Engineer
Baja_Engineer
2 months ago

I finally know what’s the source of all those longbed-looking Colorados I saw back in the early 2010s. I’d say I saw at least a handful of those back in the day but I don’t recall ever spotting an F150 with the mid box.
Cherry on top is the brochure showing the 12th gen F150 with the max payload (7 lug wheels) package and the mid box. That makes a rare truck even rarer
Cool

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
2 months ago
Reply to  Baja_Engineer

I was coming down to make a similar comment. I’ve seen several Colorado/Canyons with the midbox, but can’t recall ever seeing any F150s.

Musicman27
Musicman27
2 months ago

I think the mid box is kinda… well, mid.

Last edited 2 months ago by Musicman27
Cam.man67
Cam.man67
2 months ago

Damn, that’s pretty cool. I have toolboxes in all my trucks that compromise bed space anyways, this seems like a pretty neat alternative. Never seen one before.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
2 months ago

Meh, it’s pretty mid.

Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
2 months ago

Features so unique, you won’t believe their standard

Sigh…

Idiotking
Idiotking
2 months ago

Caught that too, did a facepalm.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
2 months ago

Grammar: the difference between knowing your shit, and knowing you’re shit.

Rippstik
Rippstik
2 months ago

Y’all forgot about the H3T concept truck that featured something similar.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
2 months ago

I’m wondering if rust became a thing, as in the seals didn’t last, and then water got it, and bob’s your uncle

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago

The utility of having drawers cannot be overstated. For proof, check out HGTV and notice that lower kitchen cabinets are going all-drawer. I wish I had this back in my land surveying days.

Reasonable Pushrod
Reasonable Pushrod
2 months ago

Sliding shelves in the kitchen area game changer, and very easy to construct.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago

Yeah right? The way-back of my lower cabinets is where I keep Grandma’s Corning Ware, which hasn’t seen the light of day in 25 years.

Reasonable Pushrod
Reasonable Pushrod
2 months ago

I recently finished converting all of my lower cabinets to sliding shelves. Easy access to that ancient corning ware has been very nice.

Ben
Ben
2 months ago

Guess I was ahead of the game. My 13 year old house is all drawers or pull out shelves except under the sink where you can’t fit them.

I’m available to consult, HGTV. First tip: Stop making every bleeping thing in the house white. It makes your houses look like sci-fi laboratories where some inhumane experimentation is about to take place. 😛

Scott Wangler
Scott Wangler
2 months ago

What was the cost?

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
2 months ago
Reply to  Scott Wangler

I was wondering the same, I found a TTAC article that said it was a $3500 option at the time. Not cheap even if that were the price now, let alone in 2008 when an F150 XL started in the 20k range.

Last edited 2 months ago by GreatFallsGreen
Eggsalad
Eggsalad
2 months ago

I’ve seen them on fleet Colorados, but never on an F-150. I think the modern implementation of this would be a toolbox that replaces the rear seat on an extended or crew cab truck. You’d get the same lockable access to your tools, and a platform on top for loose items. A quick Google search indicates that these types of products exist.

https://www.truckoffice.com/products/

Always broke
Always broke
2 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

This is similiar to what I see on a lot of construction site I visit. Most guys store their tools and other stuff like that in the rear seat of a crew cab, keeping them locked up, and the bed open. In the end a crew cab truck offers most of the advantages of this, plus the ability to haul additional people if needed.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
2 months ago

Sorry if I missed it, but what does this look like inside the bed? Is the bed just straight from the wheel wells back? I saw it referenced that there was a 5.5 ft bed behind it, but I can’t imagine these being like a full width internal toolbox but no pics show inside the bed so I can’t be sure.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

It seems that it’s a regular, factory short bed.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

It obviously is. I totally missed one of the pictures that shows it as a standalone piece not installed in the truck. I will slowly back away in shame now. Thanks

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
2 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

You’re not alone in wondering this. A shot from directly above the truck would have been nice. I believe from the words I understand what it would look like though.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
2 months ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Makes sense. No worries. Still a cool thing to know existed. I do think I have seen it on the Colorados, don’t think I have seen anything for the F-150 though

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
2 months ago

There’s probably at least a dozen of the Colorado units around my city. They’re used by pest control companies. Despite it looking odd, I always liked the utility aspect.

One of these would make an excellent junkyard runner, with all the tool you normally bring easily accessible, leaving the bed for your newfound greasy treasures.

Scott W.
Scott W.
2 months ago

Hmmm … 1980 or so, staring directly into the sun that was the co-stars of the Fall Guy – didn’t I notice a MidBox-like cubby on the 80 GMC pickup? Easy to miss – many many distractions from that highly entertaining (to a child of the CHiPs, Dukes, BJs (Bears?(??)), etc. generation.
Glad to see it wasn’t just a Hollywood fantasy.
:scott:
https://realtruck.com/blog/famous-trucks-gmc-sierra-grande-the-fall-guy/

Data
Data
2 months ago
Reply to  Scott W.

I was going to also mention The Fall Guy. Colt’s GMC had this as well, though his was a prop modification and not on all the trucks used for filming. Depending on how the camera is angled you can see the black box inside the bed of the truck, but in other scenes there is clearly nothing in the bed all the way up to the cab.

I have never seen one on a production truck.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago

This is a feature that should make a comeback. With deep beds and so many lifted pickups, this is more accessible than a box in the bed. More storage than the (also cool and very useful) Rambox. I think the take rate would be high. Whether for tool storage, overlanding gear, or even just groceries, I think a lot of people would get significant use out of it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Drew
Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Agreed, but the problem there is that most trucks these days are crew cab short bed and do not have room for something like this in front of the rear wheels, and most would not want to drive a 2.5ft longer truck because trucks are already massive.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

That’s fair, but you do see enough long beds that I think there’d be a market. And enough short beds don’t use much of the bed, so you could shorten it a bit more if you can build one of these into the bed, around the wheel wells. But, yeah, a single or extended cab is a lot easier for this.

I also think the proliferation of drawer systems for beds might make it a hard sell, too. It’d have to be pretty cheap to compete. The Ram system of storage in the bed sides is pretty ideal, too. Maybe something like this just can’t compete these days.

JumboG
JumboG
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

This taking up room in the front of a short bed would make it way too small. Even with a 5.5′ box on my crew cab truck, I can still haul 4×8 sheets of stuff, and boards up to 12′ long by folding down the tailgate. With 1/2 the bed gone I wouldn’t be able to do that.

Furthermore, people just use the back seat area of the crew cab for essentially the same purpose now.

Drew
Drew
2 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

I can still haul 4×8 sheets of stuff, and boards up to 12′ long by folding down the tailgate.

What I’m talking about are the folks who don’t really use the bed for much of anything. I think overlanders and people who use it as the family hauler and sometimes throw some potting soil in the back might like the tradeoff. I can very easily see an overlander with a roof tent on top of a canopy being willing to give up a lot of bed length for this sort of organizational tool. They’d probably be better served by an SUV, but the Tacoma Trailhunter seems to suggest that people are excited for overlanding pickups. If Ford or someone offered a full-size overlanding setup, I think there’d be sales.

I also think there’s room to shrink the midbox. People have been pretty impressed by the gear tunnel on the Rivian, so a small cargo passthrough is something that can sell. The real question is finding one setup that’s functional for most people without too many compromises.

I also think that there’s still a place for extended and regular cabs, and those would be better candidates for something like this. And I do see the occasional long bed crew cab (including in local parking garages, where they absolutely do not fit), so I think there is a possibility someone would be okay with a really long pickup to get this.

But, like I said, I think the Ram solution is probably so much better that offering this might not be competitive. Storage in the bed sides doesn’t really cut down on usable bed space. The only downside is that a topper will interfere with the rambox. The midbox does have that one advantage.

V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago

Is this an April Fools Joke?

If so, it’s very well done.

I live in the heart of truck country, I work and am friends with many truck owners, I’m fairly knowledgeable about trucks, and I’ve never seen or heard of one of these before. Cool idea though, I’d have thought it would catch on more.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

That’s how our chaotic universe works. For whatever combination of reasons, you’ve never been in the right place at the right time to experience one of these. Kind of like how I can’t name or sing any Taylor Swift song.

Reasonable Pushrod
Reasonable Pushrod
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I’ve seen one or two of the Colorado’s. But absolutely never seen one of these F-150’s.

The Clutch Rider
The Clutch Rider
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

i think these were mostly sold to fleets, not individuals.

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