Unic was a French car manufacturer. It was founded by Georges Richard in 1906 after he left Richard-Brasier. Société anonyme des automobiles UNIC was established in Puteaux with two-cylinder and four-cylinder models.
Growth and diversification
Initially the manufacturer's range was restricted to light cars, but their popularity as taxis led to the production of delivery vans and other small utility style vehicles. The 1943 cc 12 CV (9 kW) four-cylinder model (used mainly as a taxi) was extremely successful and survived in production for nearly 20 years. (The engine was enlarged later to 2120 cc.) During World War I, taxis made by the company participated in the Marne operation. After World War I, a new four-cylinder (1847 cc) was offered, along with the taxis.
The first truck and the founder's death
In 1922 the firm introduced a three ton truck, called the Unic MSC, which marked the start of a switch towards production of larger commercial vehicles. 1922 was also the year when the founder of Unic, Georges Richard, died while awaiting transfer to a Paris clinic, following a motor accident en route to Rouen. Georges Dubois, hitherto in charge of vehicle testing, took on responsibility for the business.
Passenger cars in the 1920s
During the 1920s, a 1997 cc sports model was marketed and in some models sleeve valve engines were used. In the 1930s, there were two eight-cylinder models.
The final year of car production
In March 1937 Unic updated their four cylinder passenger car model for the last time, and for the 1937 October Motor Show the six cylinder model was also given a more streamlined look, in line with the fashion of the time. By this time the passenger car range was down to just these two models. The Unic Type U4D was a four cylinder 2,150 (12CV) car which featured overhead valves and offered a maximum output of 55 hp (41 kW), supported by a robust rather traditional chassis with a 3,160 mm (124.4 in) wheelbase. The imposing six cylinder Unic Type U6C provided 85 hp (63 kW) from a 3,000cc engine (17CV), transmitted via an electromagnetic "Cotal" preselector gear box, with a choice of wheelbase lengths between 3,200 mm (126.0 in) and 3,370 mm (132.7 in).
The appeal of Unic passenger cars by this time derived not from technical brilliance nor from stunning originality. Those who appreciated the cars were impressed by excellent reliability resulting from a meticulous approach taken during the production process. Also admired were their elegant spacious bodies, most of which came from the coach builder Letourneur et Marchand or from their subsidiary, Autobineau. Unic cars by now were not being sold in large numbers and this was reflected in the price. At the 1937 Motor Show the standard steel bodied Unic Type U-4 D with its 12CV engine was priced at 53,750 francs (or 35,500 francs in bare chassis form). The slightly more powerful 13CV Talbot Type T4 "Minor" was listed at 42,500 Francs (or 35,000 Francs in bare chassis form), while from the top end of the Citroën range a long wheel base "familiale" version of the Traction 11CV Longue could be had for 28,900 francs including the body, while prototype testing was already well under way of a 2867cc (15/16CV) version of the aggressively priced and marketed Citroën Traction. Few customers in this class were willing to pay the price for the Unic's virtues of dependability, style and space, and Unic passenger car production ceased in 1938.
Post World-War II timeline
In 1956 the French arm of the Swiss truck manufacturer Saurer was taken over.
In 1966 Unic joined the Fiat Group.
In 1976 UNIC-FIAT S.A. became UNIC S.A.
In 1992 IVECO UNIC S.A. changed its name to IVECO FRANCE S.A.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to UNIC vehicles.|
- Unic taxicab 1912, undergoing service at The London General Cab Company, Camberwell. 1950s video
- "Automobilia". Toutes les voitures françaises 1938 (salon 1937) (Paris: Histoire & collections). Nr. 6: Page 92–93. 1998.
- "Automobilia". Toutes les voitures françaises 1938 (salon 1937) (Paris: Histoire & collections). Nr. 6: Page 89. 1998.
- "Automobilia". Toutes les voitures françaises 1938 (salon 1937) (Paris: Histoire & collections). Nr. 6: Page 26. 1998.
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