LONG TIME COMING – PETER BELLETTE 1934 FORD TUDOR

You’ve no doubt heard the old cliché about turning a dream into a reality? Toowoomba-born Peter Bellette has achieved just that in the form of his 1934 Ford tudor. The project might have started in July 2005 but it was almost 40 years earlier when the idea was conceived. “Warren Wilkie (now of Toowoomba Rod and Custom) lived across the road from me. A mate and I would hang around the front of the house on the weekends and watch as Warren pieced together ’32 Fords. We were all about 16 or 17 at the time. I figured I’d like to have something like that one day.”

Of course life got in the way, a career that took Peter to live in the Northern Territory and South Australia before returning to Toowoomba in Queensland, plus raising four kids. He nearly bought a Ford Pilot along the way but never followed through. It wasn’t until Peter was in his 50s that a family meeting between he and wife Cheryl determined that it was now or never. “She wasn’t that sold on the idea at first,” admits Peter, “but the car has grown on her now.” We love happy endings.

With grandkids in the wings, selecting a tudor body made sense, but Peter always preferred the tudors anyway. His is a Deuce Customs body and sits on a chassis built by Darryl Kuhnemann. The chassis is text book hot rod with a dropped axle, four bar front and rear and coil-overs at the back, VR Commodore discs and a 9” rear.

With the body mounted on the chassis, construction came to a halt when Darryl moved from Toowoomba to the Sunshine Coast. Peter needed someone experienced in fibreglass to complete the custom bodywork and ensure the final fit and finish was superb. He was referred to Bob Chapman by a fellow member of the Toowoomba Hot Rod and Custom Car Club. “I employed Bob to come in for eight hours a week to help fit and align the body parts and steel hood and make the rear number plate recess,” explained Pete.

Between the rails is an aspirated 350 Chev and Turbo 400 auto. Peter didn’t know the engine specs but the Monaro it was in previously ran 12s in the quarter, so it’s no stocker. His eldest son Terry is the real rev head in the family, toying with a Torana and other Aussie muscle, hence scoring the stout motor. A 2,800 stall convertor and 3.55 gears in the 31 spline 9” diff makes blasts up the Toowoomba range quick and painless.

When all fabrication was completed and he was satisfied with the stance, the tudor was disassembled for paint. Jason Seng applied the colour of choice, Toxic Green, to the body, the chassis, the mechanicals and probably places you never thought of. Yes, it’s bright. “I wanted to get right away from conventional colours like red or black,” explained Peter. “I thought about it a lot, maybe too much, then one day I rounded a corner and was driving past the local Ford/FPV dealer and there it was.” Peter copped some flack along the way as others learned of the colour choice but the end result is pleasing, especially to him.

The final chapter is the trim and Peter wasn’t about to give up his creature comforts. The origins of the seats are Honda but they’ve been massaged and modified to suit. Rob from Trimtastic in Toowoomba used Nutmeg leather to cover everything that needed covering and the dash is painted to match. It’s outfitted with Dolphin gauges and Vintage Air controls however the complete air conditioning system is yet to be installed. Shifter is Lokar, seat belts are from Stamps Hot Rod Seat Belts, and Warren Wilkie came up with the nostalgic column and leather-wrapped wheel. In fact Warren has been instrumental in the build without hardly lifting a finger. “He has helped me a lot,” said Peter, “he allowed me to pick his brain on so many occasions.”

So the story ends here with thank you’s to wife Cheryl, sons Terry and Heath, his daughter for her encouragement and those already mentioned. Peter doesn’t plan on launching himself into another project, he’s happy with what he has achieved and the goal is simply to drive and enjoy. 

BY GAVIN KELSO, PHOTOS BY DANIEL WARD, FEATURED CRUZIN #132.

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