11th February 2000 at 00:00
What does your car say about you? 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 modesof transport found in school car parks "This is a girl-racer car. It's a speedy fashion accessory - especially in this colour (sea-green). It's a very deliberate statement. If I had to guess, I would say she was a woman in her early 30s.

"It's also a very safe car because it's a bog standard Vauxhall with a coupe design. On the one hand, it's sporty and vivacious, while on the other it's the kind of sensible car women tend to go for. You buy the speedy, fun-loving image, but you're still driving something that is safe and conventional. It's a safe choice.

"This is a particularly ugly car. You can't escape the fact that it's a dressed-up Vauxhall that only goes fast because it's got a lightweight frame. The person who drives this car has no great interest in engineering or cars as such. It's a pret-a-porter car. It's designed with fashion in mind and the interior styling probably reflects that. It may be a future classic, but I doubt it.

"This car is trying to be something it really isn't - it's not the genuine article, it's a kind of pastiche. The woman who drives it is probably independent, singleand fun-loving. It's a very untypical car for a teacher to drive. These are the kinds of cars that you think would be driven by female estate agents."

The car belongs to Janet Pascoe, a teacher at St Buryan's School in Penzance, Cornwall "I don't think much of the last bit. It's a real head-turner - I have people coming up to me all the time saying 'that's such a beautiful car'. Sometimes I come back to it in car parks and people are standing looking at it. Someone even offered to swap their new one for it just because they liked the colour.

"It's a car you either love or hate. But if I do get negative comments, they tend to be from middle-aged men who say 'what are you doing driving around in that - you need to get an estate'. As far as the engineering side of it goes, my husband used to be a mechanic and there's no way we would have bought it if there was anything iffy about it.

"I like the bit about being in my early 30s - I'm actually 41 with two kids, but I can't have any more because they wouldn't fit in.

"It's my pride and joy. I happily admit I am obsessed by it, but I am constantly teased by my family, friends and work colleagues."

Harvey McGavin. Wonder what your chosen mode of transport says about you? E-mail your details to: harvey.mcgavin@tes.co.uk

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