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I do not like rumors but I had an email from a former employee of this company that they filed for bankruptcy on Friday.  He stated there would be an auction of their equipment and materials.  I do not know if this is completely true as there are several forms of bankruptcy. This could be a Chapter 11 reorganization BUT checking out their website is ominous as much of it is down.  If it is true, it is a sad day as they have been an important part of the hobby for a long, long time and many of you probably used them. I feel for the owners and staff and the hobby.

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Posted (edited)

Can someone tell us more about Lebaron Bonney?

I've never used them, but think of them for high-quality

wool interiors, especially for Fords. 

Have they branched out into the more popular cars

of the 1950's and 1960's, including vinyl?  What else

do they make or offer?

 

Are they owned by a single person or family?

 

I went to their website to find out more, but as Steve

said above, much of it is shut down or inaccessible.

We can always use a good, capable, honest company

in this hobby.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

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Sadly, my guess is this is a preview of coming attractions................Bob

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John. LeBaron Bonny was purchased by a new owner and in talking to him at HERSHEY, he was really trying to make it work. I have used them for 3 Model A's, my '32 and my '46 Station wagon and was very happy with their interior kits. I hope if it is true that they are closing, there is another company that can offer interior kits for us. From what I understand is they were hit with several retirements and could not find the craftspeople that were required to do what we all expect in our interiors.

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Well, something is up.  Placed an order and it had some issues, no one has responded.  We are likely out a few bucks, which is obviously not someyhing I am happy about, but sad still...

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I have been very worried about Lebaron Bonney for several years. Fewer products in stock. I assumed the end might be near a few weeks ago when I tried to order door cardboard and was told they no longer stock it. 

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I think accessibility and cost of materials and shipping also has something to do with it. In talking with Restoration Specialties, where I used to work, Jeff told me that the door board and panel boards must be ordered in standard packaging now instead of by the piece and shipping a large board can cost almost $100. Shipping costs are getting way out of line ! Manufactures pricing had gone up considerably because of a decline in accessibility of original type materials and low volume sales! Couple all that with trying to find skilled workers, or even anyone who will actually show up for work today, and you have a recipe for failure! It's really sad, so many of our specialty businesses are going belly up and it won't be to far in the future that there will be no special services at all. 

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13 minutes ago, jpage said:

 Couple all that with trying to find skilled workers, or even anyone who will actually show up for work today, and you have a recipe for failure!

 

I know nothing about this particular situation,  but in general this is a tough problem across the board in the hobby.  Many of the very skilled workers are on the older side of things and when they retire I'm not sure there is anyone to replace them.

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15 minutes ago, jpage said:

I think accessibility and cost of materials and shipping also has something to do with it. In talking with Restoration Specialties, where I used to work, Jeff told me that the door board and panel boards must be ordered in standard packaging now instead of by the piece and shipping a large board can cost almost $100. Shipping costs are getting way out of line ! Manufactures pricing had gone up considerably because of a decline in accessibility of original type materials and low volume sales! Couple all that with trying to find skilled workers, or even anyone who will actually show up for work today, and you have a recipe for failure! It's really sad, so many of our specialty businesses are going belly up and it won't be to far in the future that there will be no special services at all. 

Out here they sack businesses. Not losing skilled workers/shops. People are taking them out. Drink the Kool Aid. What a story.

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Posted (edited)

Not answering phones, emails and I have owners direct line which is also going unanswered.  They got us for a few hundred, and instead of a fully upholstered seat on new springs I received a partial kit that appears to have been packed by a third grader, probably so they could report as a completed order to close things out.

 

Glad it was not big dollars and hope no one here is in that situation..

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)

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1 hour ago, alsancle said:

Many of the very skilled workers are on the older side of things and when they retire I'm not sure there is anyone to replace them.

 

And why would they? The hobby will continue to contract as both the supply of interesting cars and those interested in them decline. A young person entering the "old car" trade today is tantamount to a young person learning to repair typewriters or linotype machines in the 70's................Bob

 

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Bob, I don't see it your way.  Why?  The programs at McPherson, Alfred State, Penn Tech amongst others are filled with young students A lot of the shops I know have "interns" or apprentices from these schools or elsewhere.  I know a shop with very unique skills that are irreplaceable in brass cars and they has a young man working for them learning the trade. The Hershey Region alone has added $50,000 to help fund scholarships to those learning the trade. Do we all have a concern for the future?  Sure, but not a automatic death knell at least from my perspective and many others.  The future of the hobby still remains in our hands and it will die if we let it.  We do not intend for that to happen.

 

None of us know the reasons that LeBaron as apparently ceased to exist.  There can be many reasons not necessarily related to the volume of business at hand.  As I said, it is an absolute shame though, as they have served the hobby well for many years. 

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Just talked to a friend who has an order hung up at L-B - part paid for and no response. They have his old seat material for patterns and at a minimum he wants THAT back. This does not look good at all. I hope that whatever is going on, they will release what is not part of the company inventory.

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Posted (edited)

we need to hear from Ted (chistech) he lives close by and deals with them a lot on pieces and parts... wonder if he has heard anything ?

 

also know they merged Hampton Coach into one company years back

 

know that many of the skilled workers there are retirement age, and no new skilled workers are interested in the skills ( no pc, internet, cyber security )

 

the kit for my 1929 came from there, complete interior and roof, Ted did the install :) AWESOME WORK

Edited by BearsFan315 (see edit history)

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I think it was right around 1968 that my Dad and Grandfather and I drove up to LeBaron Bonney to pick up the seats and top for the 1931 Roadster. I don't think they totaled $1,000. That is one car in one family in 51 years, great product, car is still a 20 footer, who do you know in your town that is restoring a Model A Ford today? Glad I was in the hobby in the "Golden Years" Bob 

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Simple demographics and supply and demand will determine the future of the hobby. The supply of interesting cars will slowly shrink through attrition and there really are no replacements. It's hard to see a market for a collectable Prius or almost any of todays production cars. From my observation point I see declining interest from todays youth in cars other than as a means of transportation. Ergo the ever shrinking future base of interested participants in the hobby. This will only be worsened by the changing  technology of todays cars and the almost disposable, "not serviceable" assembly type construction of newer vehicles.

I agree that the tide might be slowed by honest efforts and I'm not saying that things will happen over night.

There will likely always be a core old car hobby, albeit far smaller than todays, and there should always be the need for a few specialists that can make a living tending to the needs of the core group but the entire old car hobby must obey the laws of supply and demand.

I'm guessing if I needed parts for my linotype machine or have my old Royal type writer repaired there are still folks who could help but even they will have to dwindle down to a precious few.

I truly wish it weren't so but I'm afraid it is.............................Bob

 

 

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I don't know. I guess I just have a different perspective on the hobby/business. Lots of antique cars are coming on the market but I have yet to see anyone giving significant cars away. Most eventually find new owners,  perhaps at reduced prices. The folks who buy these cars presumably did not buy them to destroy them. Unless they intend to just squirrel away these cars they will eventually need service and/or restoration. I will say this again as I have in the past. Our customer base has gotten younger over the last few years with folks in their 40's and 50's committing to full restorations, usually of vehicles where there is no hope of ever recouping their costs. I think there might be a flowering of the hobby as more cars come on the market at more affordable prices. In any case, we're here for the long haul and hopefully there will be work for my 35 year old Son, the current owner of the biz,  well into the future. At the moment we are up to our ears in restoration work.

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As I said I'm talking a longer term decline. I don't think anyone will go out of business servicing the hobby over night ( LeB B excepted) or even soon. But it's hard to argue that the pool of collectable cars will increase rather than contract through attrition: fires, floods, neglect, accidents, sink holes, civil unrest etc etc etc. That coupled with the general loss of younger peoples appreciation for things automotive (when was the last time a kid pestered his Dad to drive him into town to see the new models being unveiled?) means fewer people left to collect cars or even be interested in them.

There should always, or nearly always, be room for a few niche players in the old car hobby. There are still, after all,  a few shops whose business is making wooden wagon wheels.

Evidently our Nations youth held a nation wide school walk out in protest of fossil fuels a few days ago. I caught a video of excited  young students holding banners and chanting in directed unison " HO! HO! HO! Carbon fuel has got to go". Reportedly many of their teachers gave them encouragement and class credit.

That does not auger well for "car guys"......................Bob

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The nature of how restorations are done will change, I think you will see smaller shops sub contracting out many parts of the restoration......which can be ok...or terrible, but cars will continue to need service and repair. Even if no new restorations are ever undertaken, the current finished cars will need craftsmen to keep them on the road.The price of the car my go up or down, but no one is going to start junking old cars due to lack of new owners........many people in the restoration industry have seen changes already. We certainly have. Still plenty of work, it's just different now. 

 

I can't wait to purchase my first Model J for 50K, maybe I'll buy two...........

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

As for L B and their current situation, I just called a close friend who is very familiar with them, and the people who were/are working there, he promised to make a few calls, and get back to me ASAP. I did ask him to inquire about people's patterns sent in and to see if there is any way to get them returned if possible. Not sure what we will get or not get for an answer, but I will let you know. Best, ED

 

First update.......no contact made, mutiple effort.........making another inquiry from a diffrent angle.

 

Different angle approach........a "insider" reported known problems and issues, and mentioned several new companies they bought out in the recent years past. As things have progressed and not gone well the company was offered for sale, and offered to the employees in some form or way. Apparently, nothing worked out, and the report of the filing on Friday wasn't known about or confirmed. Person said they weren't 'surprised" at the reports on line. 

 

One of the "back door contacts" left messages again in an effort to get any customer samples if at all possible.......a helpful hobbiest and industry guy who said he will help out if he is able......its wait and see time. Cross your fingers.

 

Local conformation, Chapter 7, which means the end. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

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1 hour ago, edinmass said:

 

I can't wait to purchase my first Model J for 50K, maybe I'll buy two...........

 

Time will tell but just the opposite may happen. As the available pool of cars and interested collectors contracts the ratios of each to the other will affect  prices and availability. Throwing in the desirability of any particular segment or type of car will further confuse the condition of the hobby. Eventually an equilibrium of sorts will be reached with a much smaller core of hobbyists/collectors interested enough and wealthy enough to support a much smaller number of support staff.

Neither you or me will still be around to find out what the eventual shake out will be, so enjoy for now.

OTOH if we don't stop eating big juicy steaks and farting up a storm we all will be gone in 12 years when the world ends...............Bob

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4 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

From my observation point I see declining interest from todays youth in cars other than as a means of transportation. Ergo the ever shrinking future base of interested participants in the hobby. This will only be worsened by the changing  technology of todays cars and the almost disposable, "not serviceable" assembly type construction of newer vehicles.

 

 

 

I think your observation is more a function of where you go to participate in "the Hobby".  In addition to two prewar cars, I have three from the 90's that have antique plates. I go to a variety of events and see a ton of enthusiasts under 30. Thing is, they don't want to go to Hershey and search Hemmings. Instead, they go to Radwood and buy cars on Bring a Trailer. Tastes change over time.

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In a way I see a parallel here with something as recently common as book stores, both new and used. Seemingly the younger generation doesn't read anymore, not books at least. Seems a real loss to me. It temporarily is a benefit to me as my local thrift stores are bulging with books at a dollar or two  each. But long term who knows ?  Is society's future really as superficial and vapid as media would suggest ?

 

Greg in Canada

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8 minutes ago, 1912Staver said:

In a way I see a parallel here with something as recently common as book stores, both new and used. Seemingly the younger generation doesn't read anymore, not books at least. Seems a real loss to me. It temporarily is a benefit to me as my local thrift stores are bulging with books at a dollar or two  each. But long term who knows ?  Is society's future really as superficial and vapid as media would suggest ?

 

Greg in Canada

 

That's actually not what's happening. Physical book sales are up and there has been a 35% increase in the number of independent books stores in the US. I'd wager the number of car enthusiasts has grown too, contrary to what many around here might say.

 

Book Sales are up this Year Over Last Year, and Physical Books are Thriving

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