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Car Customizer Files for Personal Bankruptcy

Courts: Boyd Coddington, once the king of hot rods and specialty wheels, cites $8,800 in assets and $529,000 in debts.

February 14, 2001|MARC BALLON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Boyd Coddington, whose sleek hot rods and specialty wheels won him legions of fans, has filed for personal bankruptcy in federal court, listing only $8,800 in assets to pay off $529,000 in debts.

Coddington had no choice but to seek bankruptcy protection, said his attorney, Keith Dolnick, because creditors were turning to him to pay debts incurred by his two previous businesses, Boyds Wheels and Hot Rods by Boyd, both of which went bankrupt three years ago.

"He still has some lingering problems from the past and is filing [for bankruptcy] in order to get a fresh start," Dolnick said.

Coddington would not comment.

James C. Bastian Jr., a lawyer for unsecured creditors in the prior bankruptcies, said he was surprised by Coddington's move because the hot-rod builder had helped start two new companies, Boyd Coddingtons Wheels and Boyd Coddingtons Garage, both in Anaheim.

"With Boyd, you can never tell," Bastian said. "One minute he's back; the next minute he's in bankruptcy."

Creditors sued Coddington two years ago, claiming he wrongly used company assets for his personal gain. He denied any wrongdoing. The case is still pending, Bastian said.

Both Boyds Wheels and Hot Rods by Boyd filed bankruptcy petitions three years ago to reorganize debts under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy laws. Those actions came after Boyds Wheels, its credit line frozen, ran out of cash. The company had boosted its production just as the market for high-end custom wheels softened. It later liquidated most of its assets.

The 56-year-old Coddington soon helped start another wheels company, Boyd Coddingtons Wheels, and, later on, a custom hot-rod maker, Boyd Coddingtons Garage.

But Coddington has neither an official title nor a stake in either company. Instead, he draws a nominal salary, said Boyd Coddington Jr., who owns the two businesses.

The younger Coddington said his father's troubles "would not affect these companies in any way, shape or form."

Bastian said he's investigating the relationship between Coddington Sr. and the two companies.

"Clearly, he had a target on him and is doing everything he can to protect himself and any new business ventures," Bastian said.

For more than a decade, Coddington was the king of hot rods and specialty wheels. His retro cars, distinguished by their sporty aluminum wheels, graced the cover of Smithsonian magazine, were made into a series of Mattel Hot Wheels toys and were snapped up by celebrities such as Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony.

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