A panel truck is a truck with a fully enclosed body, providing a large space for carrying goods. Panel trucks have historically been used as delivery vehicles for everything from flowers to groceries, and specialized models have also been designed for use as hearses. Several car companies make panel trucks for use as delivery vehicles, and car enthusiasts sometimes restore vintage panel trucks out of an interest in the history of these vehicles.
The body of a panel truck is placed on a truck chassis so that the vehicle will be capable of carrying heavy loads and for increased durability. The cab of the truck and the bed are both fully enclosed, and the typical panel truck has no windows over the bed. When used as a delivery vehicle, a panel truck may have shelving, doors, or racks to keep products organized inside the truck and to prevent damage to products while in transport.
Electricians, plumbers, and other professionals in the building trades may order a custom panel truck to use as a work vehicle. These vehicles are designed to carry tools in an organized fashion so that it is easy to get to work at a job site. Construction workers can also drive panel vans, which are larger and have more room for equipment, but can be more difficult to handle as many vans are harder to drive than basic trucks.
New panel trucks typically come with very few frills, because they are designed as working vehicles. The manufacturer may sell a truck with a stripped interior so that customers can equip the truck as needed, or the manufacturer may offer the option of customization at the factory, with delivery of a ready to use truck. An old panel truck such as a restored vintage vehicle may come with customizations added by the previous owner.
One advantage to using a panel truck for transports and deliveries is that it is relatively easy to handle and park. In crowded environments like cities, it may be easier to navigate with a panel truck than with a large van or a full sized delivery truck. People also do not need special licenses to drive panel trucks, and no special skills are required, beyond an awareness of how to use the side mirrors to monitor traffic around and behind the truck, since there are no windows in the rear of the vehicle to allow for visibility.