LeBaron Bonney Company Files For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A vintage car.
LeBaron Bonney got successful making upholstery for antique cars such as this one. (Photo: Reuters)

LeBaron Bonney company, a car upholstery manufacturing veteran with over 50 years of experience, recently filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors to the public, sealing off the last remnant of Amesbury, England's automotive manufacturing history.

According to Josh Burnett, who's a Kitaeff and Associates attorney, the company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and that it may no longer operate, after which a court-appointed trustee will liquidate its assets and sell it either at private sales or possible, an auction.

A long history

LeBaron Bonney originally made bicycles when it was first established back in 1938 by Lee and Jack Atherton, both of whom are in the furniture-making business. However, the company then shifted to restoring the upholstery of antique cars come the year 1959 and has been doing it ever since. A year later, that business then took off after the company moved from Haverhill to the old Biddle and Smart auto body factory that can be found on 6 Chestnut St.

The company then went on to become successful, operating well into the 21st century up until last year, when Trades Mill Co-op co-owner Barbara Lobenc bought the company's 49,937-square-foot headquarters for an amount of $1.3 million, after which Lobenc rented 10,000 square feet back to the company for operations.

However, a handful of the company's remaining employees were suddenly let go last Friday, to the surprise of many. As a matter of fact, Duncan LaBay, Round Fender LLC owner and antique car appraiser, was shocked when he heard about the company filing for bankruptcy.

According to LaBay, "It's a sad day for the antique auto world. It is also a sad day for the town of Amesbury because LeBaron Bonney is sort of the last 100 years of coachbuilding and related automotive activities."

Furthermore, LaBay also stated that nowadays, the antique automotive business has mostly become an "online venture," citing it as one of the reasons for LeBaron Bonney's downfall in the 21st century.

"A lot of companies are struggling to figure out how to do online commerce. They still sort of in the mail-order catalog business. That is a struggle that a lot of firms and organizations generally look at when they transition from the purchase and order world to online sales."

He then states that the company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and not the usual Chapter 11, which means reorganization. 

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