Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by D’Ieteren Frères
The Twin-Grille Roadster
The development of one of Porsche’s sportiest 356 body styles, evolved from the venerable Speedster, took a propitious turn in early 1961. Production capacity at various coachbuilders had long affected the open 356’s build location and subsequent craftsmanship. Just as capacity issues at Reutter once compelled Porsche to move Speedster construction to Drauz in Heilbronn – resulting in the aptly named Convertible D of 1958 – a large order for Ford trucks at Drauz around 1960 once again forced Zuffenhausen to reconsider a coachbuilder with adequate capacity for Roadster production.
The answer was found in D’Ieteren Frères, a Belgian concern that had enjoyed exclusive rights to import Porsches since 1950. Engaged in limited automobile production from the early 20th century and coachbuilding beginning in the 1930s, D’Ieteren proved to be a perfect successor for Roadster assembly.
The Belgian company went on to build approximately 248 examples of the 356 B Roadster during its stint as Porsche’s coachbuilder of choice before the body style was phased out altogether. Featuring the classic twin-grille rear-deck of the T-6 design, the rare model has come to be known worldwide as the Twin-Grille Roadster. Given its brief period of production and unique character, the D’Ieterenbodied 356 B Roadster has become one of today’s most prized open 356 models.
According to its Porsche certificate of authenticity, this matching-numbers Twin-Grille Roadster completed assembly on December 14, 1961, and was finished in Champagne Yellow paint with a black leatherette interior. As reflected by an original sales contract included with the car’s considerable documentation, this 356 B was sold on September 6, 1963, by its original owner, Robert Freels of New Egypt, New Jersey, to his friend, Hans Arvidson, a serviceman with the 38th Transport Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base.
Mr. Arvidson retained the rare Twin-Grille Roadster for the next 43 years. The Porsche accompanied him during moves to Colorado in 1966 and Louisiana by 1974. In July 1991, the owner commisioned Bill Edwards’ Restoration Services of Golden, Colorado, to conduct some much-needed mechanical work and a complete cosmetic overhaul, as demonstrated by nearly $20,000 in receipts.
Following Mr. Arvidson’s passing in 2006, the Twin-Grille Roadster was inherited by his son, Erik, a resident of Eagan, Minnesota. As the Porsche had spent the preceding years in storage, the younger Mr. Arvidson undertook some minor measures to return the car to the road for his personal enjoyment.
In December 2011, the Roadster was acquired by the consignor, a marque enthusiast based in Southern California who immediately commenced a comprehensive, concours-level restoration. Multiple concours judges were consulted to help guarantee the accuracy of the restoration, including award-winning 356 specialists European Collectibles who was retained to help guide and perform some of the restoration work. Additionally, various local marque specialists were utilized to help with the restoration process, including Dertrans for a complete transmission rebuild, East Auto body for paintwork, Schilling Metal Finish for the chrome work and trim, and North Hollywood Speedometer refurbished the gauges.
Completing restoration in early 2013, the Twin-Grille Roadster was refinished in its original shade of Champagne Yellow and has since accrued less than 200 miles at the time of cataloguing. Painstaking efforts were made during the restoration to ensure the final result is as accurate as possible. This beautiful Roadster, one of only 248 examples, is accompanied by a complete tool kit and jack; original manual; factory repair manual; and a well-organized binder, including receipts and photo-documentation of the recent restoration. Such a finely restored, low-ownership Twin-Grille Roadster would be ideal for presentation at finer concours and PCA and Registry events, where the rare D’Ieteren coachwork will doubtlessly draw the favor of knowledgeable enthusiasts.