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Sold Unic 1914

Unic 1914




Unic was a French manufacturer founded in 1905, and active as an automobile producer until July 1938. After this the company continued to produce commercial vehicles, retaining its independence for a further fourteen years before being purchased in 1952 by Henri Pigozzi, who was keen to develop Unic as a commercial vehicle arm of the then flourishing Simca business.


Unic was founded by Georges Richard after he left Richard Brasier. In 1905 Richard had a meeting with the entrepreneur-financier Baron Henri de Rothschild and obtained funding for the creation of the "société anonyme des automobiles Unic", based at Puteaux. The objective was to manufacture "unique" (rather than mainstream) vehicles, and at the start the company made only light cars and taxis with two-cylinder and four-cylinder engines.

The taxi business would remain important to Unic for more than three decades, while Rothschild's steady financial support through good times and bad, provided stability which sustained the business, critically during the immediate post-war years.


Although the manufacturer's initial range was restricted to light cars, their popularity as taxis led to the production of delivery vans and other small utility style vehicles. The 1943 cc 12 CV 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 1, 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.


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.


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 Letourner et March and / 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 “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 July 1938.

After 1938 Unic concentrated in the truck business, being one of the leading French makes. In 1966 it was taken over by the Italian company Fiat and eventually merged into Iveco in 1975.


Chassis #: 127, this car, along with two or three other Unic's were imported to New Zealand by a UNIC dealer in Christchurch, in 1914, in bare chassis and radiator. It was coach built by Stevens & Sons – professional coach builders in Christchurch at the time. Car was sold new in North Canterbury as a 4 seater Continental body.

It was eventually worn out and dumped in a river bed in Leader Valley in North Canterbury. Historic black and white photos showing the car's remains being dug out from its resting place are available. It was then restored in Riccarton, Christchurch to its current form (circa 45 years ago) as a two seater body by the late Alec Shadbolt, who added the following improvements to it:

  • Starter Motor 12V and Generator
  • Electric Tail & Headlights
  • Higher Ratio Diff or better motoring (we may still have access to the car's original diff and rear axel – both unrestored)
  • Oil pump

Car was sold to its second owner when the first owner's estate was sold. Its second owner, who owned for eight years, carried out the following improvements on the car:

  • Gearbox  – Replaced third gear and the bearings.
  • Motor had new rings / aluminum pistons fitted
  • Bosch magneto Starter Motor was reconditioned
  • Mechanical Seal in Water Pump was replaced

An impressive, attractive and widely known car in Canterbury. A remarkably interesting machine of outstanding quality with beautiful body and leather upholstery. Real quality car, with all the brass fittings. Excellent weather protection in the form of a versatile hood and windscreen. Easy to use and drive. Very capable for all year round motoring in all conditions and terrains - a truly charming car in good order. 

Simply put – a very well maintained car in beautiful condition throughout; in very good all round working order, lovingly & competently maintained to ensure it starts perfectly and fires right up every time.

This car is a four speed machine with reverse. The gears are sequential in line. Brakes are reasonably efficacious by the standards of the day, but please use the hand brake as the primary brake with the foot pedal being used as a secondary device.Wheels are steel Sankey with straight side 21 tyres.

Car trots down the road with alacrity dispatching hills with alacrity & never short of go on the straights. This hooded 2 seat affair is quite comfortable to sit in. The previous owner was no stranger to a spanner and has done a superb job of looking after & conserving the car. All upholstery is in excellent order as is the cream coloured painted body.  The car is festooned with the usual brass hardware & delightful period accessories.

Comes complete with side curtains and various custom tools are available with car. 

Car will be sold WOF'd and Registered if sold in New Zealand.




At Waimak Classic Cars, our principal interest is to ensure the preservation of classic and vintage vehicles.

Please remember that our vehicles are many years old, often with further previous owners. Many have been bought by us recently. We cannot know exactly what repairs or maintenance has been done although we do our best to obtain log books and copies of invoices of work done, when, and by whom.

Our descriptions are based on our own observations and knowledge and we look for the best examples we can find.

Indicated mileages are based on the records showing with NZTA and / or the vehicle's odometer reading. Because of the age of the vehicle, this can never be guaranteed.

Our inspections are generally non-invasive. Our description is based on a visual inspection and on information supplied to us by third parties.

Any sale is on the condition that the purchaser relies on his/her own judgment and does not rely on our skill or judgment or on any representation made by us. This applies even if the Buyer has not inspected the vehicle before purchase.

We strongly recommend that you have the vehicle inspected by an independent assessor qualified to comment on the particular vehicle's condition. If you are unable to organise this, then this can be organised on your behalf, at your cost.

We are proud of our reputation. However, no older vehicle can be expected to be as reliable as a new one and so all our vehicles are sold on an as is where is basis. Mechanical breakdowns, electronic failures at inconvenient times and maintenance costs are part and parcel of the ownership of classic and vintage vehicles. Reliability is a combination of the particular vehicle, how it has been driven and maintained, and luck.

For more information about this vehicle, please contact us Monday to Friday between 9:00am and 6:00pm (New Zealand Standard Time) on +64 (0) 3 3106485 / +64 (0) 274 990020. Alternatively, you may email us at info@waimakclassiccars.co.nz  anytime.

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DISCLAIMER (Please Read)


Waimak Classic Cars accepts that the vehicle being sold must be of “acceptable quality” in terms of section 7 of the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 (the Act) having regard to “the nature of the goods”.

Waimak Classic Cars is not aware of any specific defects with the vehicle, however (a) such a vehicle being a classic vehicle may have mechanical breakdowns, electrical failures at inconvenient times and maintenance costs being part of and parcel of ownership of a classic car; (b) reliability is a combination of the particular nature of the classic vehicle, how it is being driven, how it has been maintained, and to a certain extent luck.

The Purchaser acknowledges that the vehicle is being sold as a classic car; that in terms of the Act and the nature of the goods, the vehicle, is an old car that may have faults, unlike a modern motor vehicle.

The Purchaser is encouraged to personally fully inspect the vehicle and/or to have the vehicle inspected, fully assessed and maintained by an experienced classic car mechanic.

The Purchaser acknowledges that they have read and fully understand this notification and the nature of a car which is many years old.

For more information about this vehicle, please contact us Monday to Friday between 9:00am and 6:00pm (New Zealand Standard Time) on +64 (0) 3 310-6485 / +64 (0) 274 990-020. Alternatively, you may email us at info@waimakclassiccars.co.nz anytime.

PLEASE NOTE: Waimak Classic Cars is Not a car yard dealer type of operation. As a result, we do not operate through fixed opening hours and viewing is By Appointment Only.