HG Belmont ute – BADARSE

This HG ute has us hotter under the collar than a Darwin summer!

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

WE’RE all in agreeance that building a tough street machine has its challenges – the heartache of parts lost in transit, of late nights tinkering and of missed deadlines. Now, try to imagine how challenging building this stunning HG ute must have been for 62-year-old signwriter Peter Dienhoff, given that he did it all in the Northern Territory.

First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2021

“People think it’s all dirt roads up here with cattle across them,” laughs Peter, “but our roads are great for street machines – all flat and new. The biggest challenge we have is not being able to go down to the local parts stores. We ship everything in, and if it’s wrong we rarely bother sending it back; we just make it work.”

A panel vanner in a former life, Peter and partner Tina moved from Adelaide to Darwin in the wake of Cyclone Tracy for work. Establishing his own business and starting a family, Peter found he had less time for cars and parked that passion to take up fishing. But seven years ago, he decided the time was right to throw his hat in the ring once more.

Buying the ute out of Sydney, Peter had it hauled to Darwin, where he could truly appreciate the scale of the task ahead of him. “It was riding on these 19-inch wheels with low-profile tyres – they were ghastly!” he laughs. Peter pulled back the carpet and confirmed his suspicions that it would need new floorpans. He then tore down the tray to prep the rear end for mini-tubs. “I always envisaged the car having a fatter stance,” he explains.

In conjunction with HooDoo Hot Rods, Peter had the Billet Specialties wheels shipped over from the States and paired them with a shortened nine-inch diff to give the HG a killer pro street look.

In this guise, Peter and Tina took the car to Red CentreNATS, where it was met with a rousing reception. This motivated Peter to retrim the car. “We made the decision early on that any part had to be silver, red or black to be fitted to the ute, and when I spoke to the missus about giving the car a distinct Territory flavour, we both agreed the red crocodile-skin trim would do the trick,” he elaborates.

Thanks to his trade as a signwriter, Peter was able to produce a full-scale reproduction of his vision for the intricate door trims to present to the team at All Car Upholstery in Darwin, who at the same time replaced the aftermarket buckets seats fitted to the ute with fully refurbished and retrimmed HQ Premier items. The cabin is also awash with other custom billet touches.

The ute’s tray carries more of Peter’s handiwork. “Rather than lay wood panels down, I sourced 3mm aluminium, wrapped them in vinyl-printed woodgrain texture and laid a cherry-red film over the top. I finished it with a two-pack clear so it’s as tough as any paint finish, but I’m not rushing to put any bales of hay in there,” he laughs.

Another year down and another Red CentreNATS got Peter thinking about the next step for the HG. “The engine bay was okay, but it wasn’t up to the standard of the rest of the car, so after we got home, we pulled the engine, filled over 80 holes and tucked the wires,” he says.

“I then had to decide whether to stay 308, or drop a Chev or LS in it – let me tell you, a crate engine would have been cheaper!” The HG was a V8 car from the factory, so in the end Peter decided to stay true to the vehicle’s history and enlisted Glenn Lantzke to build an early-headed Holden motor that’d hold its own on the street. “There were different-sized pistons in just about every bore, so we’ve machined the block out as far as it’ll go, and it’s all new throughout the bottom end,” Peter says.

The stout 308 is capped with a pair of shaved Yella Terra alloy heads, for which Peter patiently waited over eight months! “I was so surprised Yella Terra still made them; we used to put their heads on old red 186s!” he laughs. The engine is capped off with a billet Holley 750 carb atop a Torque Power intake manifold, and has been dressed and detailed to do the rest of the build justice.

“We raced it and it went high 12s, but that’s not what this car is about. We built it to cruise around in, looking and sounding nice,” says Peter with the wisdom of a bloke who’s both been there and done that in the car game. His hard work was rewarded at the 2021 Red CentreNATS, where the HG strolled straight into the Top 10 Elite and won the Top NT Entrant award.

Now that he’s back into building cars, there seems to be no slowing Peter down. “My partner Tina likes the Monaros of this era, but I’m thinking about building a sedan so that we can cruise with the grandkids!”


Paint: Silver Mink
Brand: Holden 308ci V8
Induction: Torque Power intake manifold, Holley 750 four-barrel carb
Heads: Yella Terra alloy
Camshaft: Camtech CT5 664
Pistons: 40thou-oversized
Crank: Prepped standard crank
Fuel system: Factory tank and pumps
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler alloy radiator, 14in thermo fans
Exhaust: Pacemaker extractors, stainless-steel 3in exhaust, stainless-steel
Ignition: MSD Pro Billet distributor
Gearbox: Turbo 350, Stage Two shift kit
Converter: 3500rpm stall 
Diff: 9in, 3.7:1 ratio, Truetrac centre 
Front: Reset springs, lowered 1.5in
Rear: Relocated shock mounts, reset leaf springs, lowered 1.5in
Brakes: HQ discs (f), drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Rims: Billet Specialties Street Lite; 15×4 (f), 15×10 (r)