The 1933 Derby V8 was manufactured by the esteemed French company Derby from 1920 to 1936, the 1933 Derby V8 is a true rarity and a testament to automotive innovation. Among the 10 limited productions, VIN 803, known as the "Montlhery" roadster, is the lone survivor, distinguished by its originality, including the body.
Derby cars, under the leadership of Bertrand Montet, initially gained acclaim with conventional models featuring proprietary engines. Notably, their success extended to racing cycle cars and voiturettes with engines less than two liters. Following Monsieur Montet's passing, the company fell into the hands of English racecar driver William Hawkes. Among the noteworthy Derby productions was the 1933 V8, a pioneering vehicle equipped with front-wheel drive, a 2-liter Le Mans V8 engine, and groundbreaking driver-adjustable brake and suspension settings.
Gwenda Stewart, a celebrated racecar driver, took the wheel of this remarkable car in the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally, adding an unforgettable chapter to its legacy. To delve deeper into Gwenda's extraordinary journey, explore our blog post: "Gwenda Stewart-Hawkes: Ambulance Driver to Speed Queen."
Derby's early models, featuring motorcycle V-twin and Chapuis-Dornier four-cylinder engines, set the stage for their later advancements. The L2 of 1931 and the L8 of 1933 were notable for showcasing front-wheel drive technology, with the latter boasting an 11 CV, 2-liter V8 motor—a bold departure during an era when such cars were not the norm.
Despite their ventures into luxury front-wheel-drive V8s, market challenges prompted Derby to cease car production in 1936. Their meticulously crafted vehicles, although triumphant in specialized engine classes, faced stiff competition from high-volume production cars.
The story of our Derby took a twist during World War II when it was lost, only to be later rescued by the museum of La Rochetaille. In the 1950s, Lepicard and Monsieur Veniard undertook the restoration of this automotive gem, replacing its engine block with one from a Le Mans car dating back to 1934. Today, this Derby V8 stands as a captivating piece of history, embodying the resilience and passion of those who preserved its legacy across the decades.