But Derbys are exquisite to drive, at least if maintained properly. Low and quite light when not saddled with excessive bodywork, they are surprisingly quick, but smooth and civilised too. They stop well by pre-war standards and have exceptionally benign handling characteristics. And of course most are very beautiful, even the Park Ward saloons that made up approximately half of all production. Cars from more adventurous houses like HJ Mulliner, Freestone & Webb and Gurney Nutting can be absolutely stunning.
And I think the best are the earliest and latest cars. An early 3.5-litre (as it was somewhat inaccurately called) with lightweight Vanden Plas touring bodywork is one of the sweetest cars of the 1930s I have driven, while a late overdrive car with a saloon body is probably the most usable car of its era. A few years ago I was lucky enough to drive one to Dijon for a race weekend and it sat at the same 80mph cruise as the rest of the traffic on the autoroute, all the way there and all the way back. It was a roasting hot weekend yet the water temperature and oil pressure needles never budged.
Sadly tourers now cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds while even drophead coupes seem to be well into six figures. But nice looking saloons are still available for sensible five digit sums, not much give their performance, badge and the very traditional but still quite wonderful engineering they contain.
Final two images courtesy of Bonhams.