Step Vans: From Multi-Stop to Food Trucks

Just where did the idea of a step van originate? How has this type of vehicle transformed across the decades? Let's dig into the history of how step vans have shaped our transportation progression across the decades, from multi-stop to food trucks and linen to uniform industries. Today step vans are used across a variety of industries, including delivery services, specifically ISP contractors, linen and uniform companies, and food truck manufacturers. The use of a step van can seem versatile, but it is not always a perfect solution for all truck needs. To get a better understanding of the customizations and versatility, let's check out the history of step vans: from multi-stop to food trucks.

Origin of Step Vans: From Multi-Stop to Food Trucks

History of Step VansLet's start from the beginning. Step Van is not the only name that this type of vehicle has been referred to over the years. In the past it was commonly called multi-stop vehicles or walk-in trucks because the truck was one of the first of its kind that a person could stand inside of. This type of vehicle grew in popularity because it made delivering items from home to home; business to business easier and more convenient. In the 1930's, these trucks were used to deliver milk and bread, and have obviously grown in versatility since then. In the 30's, step vans were much different from the style we are accustomed to today. The first images of step vans resembled more of a large VW-style bus with a nose as seen on the left here.


Where does the name "Step Van" come from?

The term “van” comes from an abbreviation of caravan, which can be referring to the process of loading up a fleet of vans and all leave in a pack that later disperses across the community to make their deliveries. The “step” part of step van is referring to the fact that a driver can easily step in and out of the van to make their deliveries.

Has the Design of the Step Van Changed?

The design of the step van has definitely changed over the decades. Todays design is much more of a box shape, which caters to the multi-use of the vehicle, as seen in the image below. The taller shape of the step van allows drivers to stand up in the vehicle, which again is perfect for delivery drivers, food truck operations, and linen racks. The box shape allows for open space for whatever the intended use is, whether it is to deliver packages, linens, or prepare food. The step van is known for the two separate entry/exit points - one at the front of the truck, and the other in the rear.

From the 1930's to 2000's Step Vans

Todays step vans are still used for deliveries, everything from ISP contractors and grocery delivery to linen and uniform deliveries. The 2000s saw a large increase in the usage of step vans for food truck modifications. As the food truck industry grows to over $2 billion in 2017 (, step van dealers have seen an uptick in the amount of step vans being purchased for restaurants, caterers, or even food truck entrepreneurs. Dealers like MAG Trucks have established decade-long relationships with top food truck builders to serve as their go-to source for step vans.

Step vans are also being used in government and industrial applications. For example, step vans are being built out as SWAT and emergency vehicles, emergency mobile command centers, surveillance vehicles and disaster relief. The ability to have a self-contained vehicle that can easily travel from one location to the next is a very appealing aspect of using step vans for government and emergency response situations. Fabricators like APEX Specialty Vehicles utilize step vans for such applications.

The history of the step van is truly a cool transformation. From a VW bus to the modern day step van for delivery and food truck applications, the step van has become a staple on roadways.

. MAG Trucks has been providing business solutions for ISP contractors, food truck builders, and linen/delivery companies for over ten years. MAG is known for their selection of new and used step vans on their lot, and ready to be delivered to you in 7 - 10 days. MAG's nationwide delivery and finance options ensure a smooth, easy truck buying experience.