Wheels

28th January 2000 at 00:00
Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford and author of Driving Passions - the Psychology of the Car, analyses different modes of transport found in school car parks "This is a late-ish model of the old Transporter style, which means it is not quite the Californian-hippie-take-your-surfboard-to-the-beach type of vehicle. It looks like a full-spec Camper with beds and a cooker. It harks back to the 1960s, but it's also very comfortable.

"I would say this is owned by a married couple who probably both lay claim to it being their car. They are relatively young - probably in their 30s - with children. They use it for holidays and trips to the local supermarket. Those are the kind of people who drive these things.

"Presumably they bought it second-hand, so it's orange because it came like that, rather than their conscious choice - few people deliberately choose that colour. It seems to me they probably aren't very ambitious. Camper vans are domestic things. Bunches of Antipodeans travelling round Europe is one image it conjures up, but the more common one is of a relatively impecunious married couple who use it as a way of getting more holidays than they could otherwise afford.

"I speak with some experience, as I used to have a VW Camper myself - it was trendier than the dreaded ommer van. They've got underpowered engines and are pigs to drive, but you take all those things in your stride. Probably these people wouldn't be seen dead in a caravan."

The van belongs to John Kilcoyne, acting deputy head of St Michael's C of E primary in Middleton, Greater Manchester, and Helen Segebarth, a learning support teacher for Rochdale LEA Helen: "We're not married, although we have been living together for six years, and it's certainly true that we would both lay claim to it being ours. But we don't have any kids.

"We bought it about 18 months ago. I have always really liked Campers. My dad, who's German, worked for Volkswagen before he came over here and met my mum, so we were brought up with Beetles. We've got a 1968 Beetle as well."

John: "Nobody would choose the colour, but it's certainly distinctive. Everyone recognises us when we drive around town. You tend to acknowledge other Campers: it's the shared knowledge that you are putting up with all this hardship.

"We do use it for holidays, but I disagree about the fact that we are impecunious. It's expensive to run and I paid more for it than I did for my previous car. I've never been surfing - maybe if I was 10 years younger!" Wonder what your means of transport says about you?E-mail your details to harvey.mcgavin@tes.co.uk


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