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Eric Zausner's '33 Victoria - The Falcon V12

9/9/2020
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The Story of the Falcon

A painter might tell you that a good piece of work should make you ask questions. This ’33 Ford Victoria is far from any sort of traditional elegance, aesthetically speaking. This is not your typical long fendered Ford wearing a pristine paint job. No, this is a patiently hand-built one-off that's meant to spark wonder and inspire the creative spirit.

Alberto Hernandez's cutaway shows the intricate workings of the Falcon V12.

Before you understand anything, you have to learn some things about the creator, Eric Zausner. Eric is an avid enthusiast, automotive collector, and he’s traveled the world in just about everything you can imagine: traditional hot rods, vintage Jags, Ferraris, Corvettes, you name it. Speak to him, and you’d even call him a historian. It’s obvious, however, that his heart belongs to traditional hot rods.

He grew up in New Jersey reading car magazines without any real guide or mentor. As he puts it, “I had more optimism than skill at the time.” To add some perspective, as a teenager he built his first car - a Model A Hot Rod powered by a Desoto Hemi. Later in life, he was fortunate enough to start building cars the way he wanted.

Eric thought about the cars he admired and came to a conclusion. That is, every car has one common denominator: one man’s vision fulfilling one specific desire or need. He’s inspired by men like Enzo Ferrari, Bugatti, and Duesenberg. “Their blend of form and function has always been beautiful to me,” Eric said.

He asked himself: what would a car look like with unlimited financing to say… an Indy mechanic with access to era-specific components? He's taken this 'hypothetical builder' approach and applied it to 5 uniquely different cars. The ’33 Falcon V12 is his latest creation.

Eric recalled a story about the Speed Six Bentley, nicknamed the Bentley Blue Train. Amazingly in 1930, the car won a race against a locomotive in a 700-mile French endurance race. This particular Bentley was epitomized by a huge 8.0L engine and a radical chop.

The ’33 Victoria became an evolution of Eric's knowledge and imagination. He wanted to recreate an American version of the Bentley Blue Train. It had to be an early ‘30s hot rod mimicked the look and feel. It had to have a massive engine, radical chop, and enough traction to handle the power. The lines of a ’33 Ford Victoria were a perfect match.

Every build starts by getting his ideas out on paper and ends with showing up to a top builder like Steve Moal to bring it to life. Eric looked to the talented artist, Alberto Hernandez to prepare the design work and renderings. Alberto would sit down with Eric and draw up 3 or 4 alternatives for each concept.

For the engine, Eric reached out to Ryan Falconer to build him a road-ready V12. There was a tremendous amount of engineering to make Eric’s vision happen. The frame had to be stretched to accommodate the larger engine. Not a single part was taken off the shelf. Inside and out, there was nothing meant to be decorative, everything was based to function.

Eric considered the men building Hots Rods during the 30s and 40s, with no aftermarket they were left digging through aircraft surplus centers.

The headlights, exhaust cutouts, and retractable roof all operate by linkage or hydraulics. Every component was informed by a well thought out philosophy. From the brass mesh running alongside the exhaust for cooling, the snorkel intakes reminiscent of the old P51s, and the headlights that retract like landing gear - the raw steampunk vibe was less intentional than it was functional.

Now on display at the Museum of American Speed, most onlookers are unsure where to look first. It’s the beauty of Eric’s build recipe. Not only in the purpose, but in the craftsmanship. The Falcon V12 is a collision of history, imagination, and ingenuity.

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