I'm looking for a story where people are always in their cars, which are small, individual-sized, and are considered naked when they are out of them.

It's from the late 1960s or early 70s.

  • 1
    Wasn't that a hit by Gary Numan in 1979? ;) Feb 8, 2012 at 20:12
  • 1
    The fact that there are two different stories which seem to perfectly fit this is rather interesting to me.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:57

2 Answers 2


"Romance in a Twenty-First Century Used-Car Lot", a novelette by Robert F. Young; first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1960, available at the Internet Archive.

Arabella Grille drives home in her new "dress":

Her father stared at her through the windshield of his three-tone Cortez when she drove into the garage and parked at the supper table. "Well," he said, "it's about time you broke down and bought yourself a new dress!"

"I guess so!" said her mother, who was partial to stationwagons and wore one practically all the time. "I was beginning to think you were never going to wise up to the fact that you're living in the twenty-first century and that in the twenty-first century you've got to be seen."

She makes a date with a cad named Harry Fourwheels:

About a mile past the reservation, Harry turned into a narrow road that wound among oaks and maples into a park-like clearing. Diffidently, she accompanied him, and when he parked beneath a big oak, she parked beside him. She regretted it instantly when she felt his hand touch her chassis and begin its relentless journey toward her headlights again. This time her voice was anguished: "Don't!"

"What do you mean, don't!" Harry said, and she felt the hard pressure of his chassis against hers, and the fumbling of his fingers around her headlights. She managed, somehow, to wheel out of his grasp, and find the road that led out of the clearing, but a moment later he was abreast of her, edging her toward the ditch. "Please!" she cried, but he paid no attention and moved in even closer. She felt his fender touch hers, and instinctively she shied away. Her right front wheel lost purchase, and she felt her whole chassis toppling. Her hardtop hat fell off, caromed off a rock and into a thicket. Her right front fender crumpled against a tree. Harry's wheels spun furiously and a moment later the darkness devoured the red dots of his taillights.

She meets Howard Highways, a nice young man from the "nudist" colony, who explains to her:

"Big Jim? Big Jim is an artificial entity. The automakers dreamed him up to frighten people into wearing their cars so they would buy more of them and turn them in more often, and the government co-operated because without increased car-turnover, the economy would have collapsed. It wasn't hard to do, because people had been wearing their cars unconsciously all along. The trick was to make them wear them consciously—to make them self-conscious about appearing in public places without them; ashamed, if possible. That wasn't hard to do either—though of course the size of the cars had to be cut way down, and the cars themselves had to be designed to approximate the human figure."

  • I read this in the 1960s and definitely recall a romance where the people shed their cars at the end (later echoed in Last Mimzy). The Keller story ends with some kind of doomsday --goodreads.com/book/show/24943983-the-revolt-of-the-pedestrians -- so it's clearly not the one I read, but OP is the one who needs to confirm whether this answer (Young's story) is correct.
    – Martin
    Jan 28, 2020 at 13:39

Most likely, the story you are looking for is called “The Revolt of the Pedestrians” (text) by David H. Keller, M.D.

Hope this is the one you were talking about.

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