Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by D’ieteren Frères
356 Club of Southern California Concours, Dana Point, California, July 2010 (Best of Show, People’s Choice, Judge’s Choice)
A replacement for the one-year-only Convertible D, Porsche’s 356 Roadster was introduced in 1960 to continue satisfying demand for a 356 that featured open, sporting coachwork with roll-up windows, a higher windshield, and a practical soft top. Since the Roadster was based on the updated 356 B model, improvements included a stronger oil pump, stronger connecting rods, an updated gearbox, and more powerful brakes.
Of the examples of the 356 Roadster, many consider the most desirable to be the final iterations produced in the updated T6 body style, identified by their squared-off trunk profile, outside filler, and twin grille engine lids. Only 248 were produced, with coachwork completed by Belgian firm D’Ieteren Frères. This exceptionally restored example, chassis 89663, left the Porsche factory on December 13, 1961, fitted with Koni shock absorbers and finished in black – a special-order color at the time – over a red interior. It was delivered new to Porsche Car Import of Northbrook, Illinois. The Roadster eventually made its way to the West Coast, where it was purchased around 2007 by famed restorer John Willhoit for a client of his, an avid Porsche collector.
Willhoit commenced a complete restoration to concours standards. The Roadster was stripped to bare metal, new floors and battery box were precisely installed, and it was fitted with several desirable features. These included steel GT seats, a VDM wood steering wheel, Hella 128 fog lights, a conversion to12-volt electrics, and a green interior upholstered in leather. The engine was rebuilt to 1,720 cc and dyno-tested at 98 hp and 108 lbs./ft. of torque, running Zenith carburetors. Its transaxle was built using a GT torque-biasing differential and 12-bolt ring and pinion.
The restoration was completed in 2010 at a cost of over $416,000, documented with receipts and numerous photographs. The Roadster was then shown at the 2010 356 Club of Southern California Concours in Dana Point, California, where it won Best of Show and also took the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice awards. The consignor purchased the Twin Grille in 2015, and it has been maintained in his fine collection of postwar European sports cars. Recently, the Roadster returned to Willhoit for inspection and preparation.
Concours-winning Twin Grille Roadsters do not often come to market, and this offering’s rare original black color adds even more appeal. The work completed by Willhoit Auto Restoration is extraordinary, with outstanding attention to detail.
This fantastic Roadster is worthy of serious consideration by Porsche collectors seeking a rare and impressively restored example.