21st January 2000 at 00:00
What does your car say about who you are? Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford and author of Driving Passions - The Psychology of the Car, analyses the modes of transport found in school car parks.

"This is a good old Morris Minor, but it's a very particular Morris Minor - a real collector's item. I would say it's a 1949 or 1950 model. You can tell because the headlights are mounted in the grille. This makes it a special car.

"If this was an ordinary Morris Minor, a slightly later model, or a VW Beetle or a Citroen 2CV, then you could talk about things like cute cars and the Bambi effect. The Bambi effect is a psychological concept to do with things that evoke nurturing responses; animals and humans are born with bulbous foreheads and big eyes, so cars that have the same characteristics are seen as objects of affection. But this car doesn't have nice, big round eyes, so that interpretation doesn't really hold.

"I would say this person has other cars too and doesn't use this as his or her main vehicle.

"Other than the collector andrestorer aspect, there's no obvious clues as to personality or the kind of association between the driver and the car itself. Cars change in their meaning.

"The Morris Minor is traditionally associated with district nurses for whom it was compulsory transport. It symbolised responsibility, economy, not too much ambition. It's associated with sensitive, caring professions. ompared with other kinds of cars that were available at the time, such as the Ford Popular, theMorris Minor has always been the sensible alternative. The Post Office used them and so did the police. Morris Minors are driven by people who are not into competition or speed.

"Normally you would say that this was driven by a middle-aged woman, but in this case I think it is a man. Not too many women go for driving something that's frankly a bit of a liability.

The car belongs to Ray Newell (pictured), head of careers and guidance at Dukeries community college, Newark, Nottinghamshire. He is also secretary of the Morris Minor Owners Club and has written six books about them "I wouldn't really quibble with his observations at all. It's accurate in terms of the dating and the associations of the car - it's from 1949. There is a tenuous link with the caring professions and nurses: I teach health and social care. I was a little surprised he didn't mention vicars - the Archbishop of Canterbury used to have one.

"I agree with the Bambi effect. It's well known among Morris Minor owners. I'm 48, which I suppose does constitute middle age. And the point about it being a liability, although it sounds a bit harsh, is actually true. Driving it in the Nineties isn't easy. My everyday car is a Rover."

Harvey McGavin

Have you got a curious car or a striking bike? Has your head of department or NQT? E-mail the details to harvey.mcgavin@tes.co.uk

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