Unic tourer on a mystery trip...

This time, I would like to share a prewar car photo from my collection where the identification of the vehicle - or at least its manufacturer - was no problem. "Unic" it says on the radiator, which refers to the company founded in the western suburbs of Paris in 1905 by a certain George Richard who had been building race cars since the turn of the century. Unic appears to have offered a range of touring and utility cars, however, I was unable to identify the exact model of the car in my picture. Most probably its from the L-type range which was developed after WW1. From a stylistic perspective I'd propose 1924 or 1925 as the likely year of manufacture.

What intrigues me - apart from the exact model - is the situation and location where this excellent photo was once taken. At first glance, the landscape might look American, yet we do find similar ones on Southern Europe, e.g. in Spain and on the Balkans. Perhaps, the little train that is running through the picture provides a clue. It appears to be pushed upwards by a very small steam engine. A bizarre, but possibly crucial feature is the wooden sign that the Unic has just passed. Unfortunately, we can only see its backside, but maybe the overall shape rings a bell.

Finally, one more detail should be mentioned: On the original print one can read the sign that is attached to the front window of the Unic. Below the number "15" it says "Reserviert", meaning "reserved" in German. The rest cannot be deciphered. 

Is it possible that the four gentlemen in the car are travellers from a German-speaking country who had booked the Unic and its driver for a sightseeing tour? But where?

Words and photos: Michael Schlenger 

Published: Sunday March 12th, 2017


  • Now that the location has been identified, it would be still highly appreciated, if one of the French car experts could determine the exact model of this lovely UNIC phaeton.

    Could it be an L-type from the early or mid 1920s?

  • Many thanks for identifying the location, Luis!

    Based on your information, I was even able to find the exact position where this photo was taken.

    It seems, the railway to the Montserrat monastery only once crosses a street - the BP-1121 heading from Monistrol di Montserrat in western direction.

    The car must have stood at 41°36'42.6"N 1°50'08.9"E (refer to Google Maps) while the train was crossing the street running uphill towards the monastery.

    Now, if someone was able to also ascertain the exact model of the Unic car, I'd be perfectly happy!

  • My guess would be the Montserrat Rack Railway, Catalonia

  • Intersting! Is it not possible to determine in what country the car was registred by looking at the number plate?

  • It is almost certain that the photograph corresponds to the access road to the Monastery of Montserrat in the province of Barcelona (Spain). The train was going up with the steam engine pushing the wagons, it was called "Cremallera"(spanish name of the zip) due to the type of traction with a toothed rail in the center of the tracks. The car shows a white license plate with a number that would probably be preceded by the letter B of Barcelona. Registration number B-26743 corresponds to September 1927. Numerous photographs of the train can be found at: http://decomoeltiempoylascosas.blogspot.com. Es / 2015/01 / el-antiguo-tren-rack-de.html


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