"We didn't have a telephone and our family until I was about 15, in high school."
One characteristic of good writers is that they don't try to include details that don't move the story forward. In this case, the small vehicle is simple, but modernistic (at least from the standpoint of the 1970's, when this story was written).
Today, of course, we can point to at least a few production cars that have a "tear-drop" shape (because it improves the aerodynamics - and therefore the gas mileage - of the vehicle).
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