With the arrival of the Dodge Caravan in 1983, minivans became the choice of parents who don't care how they look to the rest of the world, because half a soccer team fits in the back seats and sliding doors are so darn practical.
That's why it was so telling when Google announced last week that it would add 100 custom-built Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to its fleet of experimental self-driving vehicles, which are designed to reflect Google's mission.
Google's first prototype was based on the eminently practical Prius. When the company designed its own car, it settled on a functional two-seat pod with a friendly face.
Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Volvo are rolling out automated driving features in high-end cars, but Google is pitching its shared cars as comfortable and practical for as many people as possible.
The earlier prototypes reflected a narrow vision of utility. They might be perfect for childless Uber devotees in San Francisco, but what about everybody else?
By using the Pacifica, Google is signaling that its technology will be good for the whole family. Google is also laser-focused on older people and people with physical disabilities who cannot drive themselves. As it happens, Chrysler's minivans are popular for wheelchair retrofits.
Back in '83, the new Dodge Caravan's advertising referred to it as an "American revolution." The car was revolutionary because it was designed for passengers and cargo more than for drivers.
If the idea was revolutionary then, it should be even more so now. What matters most for self-driving cars is a functional interior. Cars will be like living rooms, with comfortable seats, cargo space and entertainment screens.
Google's rival Apple may be thinking along similar lines. The MacWorld blog reported in 2015 that an Apple affiliate linked to the company's secret automotive project had imported a 1957 Fiat Multipla 600, a proto-minivan designed to maximize interior space.
Google has long insisted that it will rely on existing manufacturers when it brings self-driving cars to market. It will need partners that understand its utilitarian vision. Who better than Fiat Chrysler, the merged parents of the Caravan and the Multipla?