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It all began when illustrator Sheilah Beckett drove herself to the hospital in her Austin Healey 100-4 one December day to deliver her son Sean. Fireman? Policeman? Far too boring ! from day one, Sean always knew he wanted to be a photographer. He started taking pictures at 10 and continued through high school, shooting anyone willing to get in front of his camera. He went on to the School of Visual Arts on a full merit scholarship, while running his father's photography studio...following in his dad's footsteps,he started shooting fashion & beauty! After a number of years Sean married his two great loves and began incorporating cars into the shots. The automotive draw, however, was just too strong...ultimately, to the amazement of many friends, he announced:"Get the women away from the cars!" Well, most of them, anyway... Sean now shoots for numerous prestigious American and European automotive magazines, as well as all the top auction houses and a number of private commisions.

Jun 202015

Briarcliff Classic and Imported Car Service has been in the business of helping people repair their cars for over 40 years. We are dedicated to the preservation of classic cars and  the maintenance of modern cars for our customers.

A properly maintained automobile will be less prone to costly and inconvenient break downs. Mark Twain once said something to the effect that he knew  he was going to live so long he would have taken better care of his teeth. Visits to the dentist are a necessary part of life. In the same way your car requires regular scheduled service to keep it in good working order, without being  frightening.

Our dedicated and knowledgable staff act as advocates and guides to maintaining your car. As part of our regular service the car is road tested to help determine any needs or required service. Once on the lift the car is checked in our multi point service inspection and needs are prioritized.

Prioritization cites safety and reliability as your TOP concern. The technicians acts as your advocate looking out for your best interests.

Any and all needs are presented to the customer in a way they can easily comprehend. If need be the customer has direct access to the technician working on on the car to help clarify and remove the mystery of the process, something that doesn’t happen at todays impersonal dealerships.

In short we offer a transparent, knowledgable and friendly experience.

Apr 042015

My brother Jeff, friend John Perl and I opened the doors on Briarcliff Classic & Imported Car Service on February 4, 1974. John and I met at N.Y.U., where we were both undergraduates with English sports cars. He had aTR-3 and I had an Austin Healey Sprite. Brother Jeff was an experienced racer, who started racing in a 1949 MG-TC. Both Jeff and I went onto race Austin Healey “Bugeye” Sprites in SCCA at the regional and ultimately national level.

Previous to B.C.I. we had a shop called  “The Underground Garage.”  Where we  worked on street cars to supplement funds we needed to go racing. More and more customers came to us for our expertise  ( having cut our teeth on racing cars.) We applied the same standard to our customer work that we learned through years of racing.  Today we still have a soft spot for English cars, but we have added staff to accommodate later model and other European, Asian, and domestic makes. As always we  deliver expert repairs, performed correctly the first time. We still maintain the passion we had for cars and the mechanical curiosity that goes with it. We are up to date on the latest technology, and also have the experience to maintain your classics.

Mar 282015

Quality independent versus Dealer service.

We are a neighborhood shop, dependent on your good will. As such we have to work harder for your money. The nature of how we conduct business is different from the dealerships. We compensate our mechanics with an hourly wage rather then how many jobs they can rush through in an hour. Our mechanics know that the customers best interests are their concern. They know how to prioritize repairs for the best return on your investment.

We offer accessibility, not only in terms of making appointments for service, but also fielding emergencies when you really need us.

Briarcliff Classic and Imported  is famous for  its glass wall that allows customers in the waiting room and office to see  into the clean, well lighted working area.

In addition, when needed the customer can describe a “Mystery noise” or such directly to the mechanic who will be addressing the repair. And they  will be available to you for conversation or test drive. Old fashion service that you can depend on when you need it is what we offer.

We have decades of experience and have made a large investment in the latest diagnostic equipment. In addition to current models we have vast experience in servicing and restoring older automobiles.

In short. “We are the mechanics you have always been looking for!”

Mar 212015

Choosing a mechanic, can be a lot like choosing a doctor. You would never choose a doctor on the basis of price alone. A personal recommendation  from friend or relative  is the best possible avenue. The internet is a good source to read other’s experience at a shop. It’s also possible to view the history and experience of the facility you want to do business with. A  visit to the facility  in question is always a good idea. The appearance and cleanliness of the facility is always good indication of how they might treat you car. Other cars like yours in the parking lot is always a good indication that there is knowledge of your particular car. Accessibility is important. Will the shop be accessible when you need help or merely when it is convenient for them? Is there accessibility to the technician who is actually servicing your car? Can you describe directly to that person, the problem existent in your car?

Find a good independent mechanic whose passion is doing the job right. Find one that is cerebral enough to know that servicing your best interests  serves his as well. Find one who is interested in establishing a long term relationship based on mutual trust and good work.

Mar 142015

I had a customer come into our shop with a 2008 automatic with mid sixties on the odometer. The dealer inspected the car and came up with $10,000.00 of necessary repairs. A shocking thought that a quality European car with a mere 67,000 miles would need work amounting to the value of the car. They did offer to help him out by allowing him to trade it in on a new model. The technician, in my opinion, was up-selling the necessary work. Up-selling denotes when the technician who services a car looks for items that can be sold to the customer. In some cases this can reflect the interests of the repairer rather then the consumer. For example upon inspection of the braking system the pads had some wear on them but were certainly not worn out or in need of replacement at the time.

In our shop we always try to act as advocate for our customers. We do sell necessary repairs but only when needed. When we inspect a car during service we look for required work to keep the car safe and reliable. The repairs needed are prioritized into three tiers. 1) repairs needed immediately for safety or reliability  2) Those you might expect in the next six months to a year. 3) Lastly those items that are existent , needed to be watched, but no further action is required. The customers best interests are in our best interest as well.

Oh, by the way the customer with the $10,000.00 estimate from a dealership was repaired at our shop for $3,570.00 plus tax.

Mar 142015

Service is the key to longevity. As the age of a car on the road these days is 10 years old, it is apparent that cars are lasting longer. Engine and major drive train components are built to last for 250,000 miles or more. Synthetic oils and new technology have lent to longer lasting engines. But even with synthetic oils in place, oil changes and regular servicing are necessary to prolong the life of your car. So called flex servicing isn’t regular servicing. A mere oil change doesn’t necessarily address the the tire pressures, brakes or other fluids. We recommend an oil change every 5000 miles with synthetic oil. At that time we road test and inspect the car on a lift to determine any needs the car might have. The chassis is inspected for rust. The brakes, suspension and steering are all checked for worn parts. The tires are checked for wear and the pressure is adjusted, including the spare. All the fluids under the hood are checked and topped off. Belts, hoses, and rubber parts that can age, are checked for wear and cracks. All lights, wipers, horn and other safety aspects of the car are inspected. In short our minor service, which includes an oil change insures that your car will provide reliable and safe  service you can count on.

Mar 072015

Routine service used to mean two  or three trips to a service facility per year. During these visits the oil would be changed and the car looked over for needed repairs.However with the advent of synthetic oil, their change interval is between 5,000 and 10,000 miles, depending on service recommendations. I like my cars and tend to keep them for a long time. As such I service and change the oil every 5,000 miles religiously (classic cars at least once a year).

When I say service the cars, I don’t mean merely an oil change. A quick visit to Oil Express for an oil change is insufficient for preventative maintenance. A minor service should start with a road test by a qualified technician  for an overall feel for the car and to illuminate any issues that should be checked. Next the car is put up on a lift. The engine oil is drained from the sump. While the oil is being throughly drained, the undercarriage exhaust, brakes, suspension and steering are checked. The tire pressures are checked and adjusted, including the spare. Next the car is lowered on the lift. Whereas the oil filter is changed and related O-rings, belts and hoses checked, battery connections checked and cleaned as necessary. All fluids under hood are checked and topped off and fresh oil is added. Lastly all safety items such as lights, horns and wipers are inspected to be in good working order.

Service is not merely an oil change. Service is the insurance policy that your car is ready for the road. Servicing your car is the best way to keep you and your car going down the road and to keep costly breakdowns at bay.

Mar 072015

It may not look like it outside but Spring is imminent. The snow will be receding and the blacktop revealed. Don’t wait to think about your hibernating car until April when you want it running and available for Caffeine & Carburetors. Charge the battery, pump up the tires and check the fluids. If you didn’t change the oil before storing the car away,  it’s best to do it now. Over a period of time oil becomes gas fouled and therefore doesn’t lubricate internal engine parts as well. Fuel is another consideration as the alcohol mixture we are all mandated to  use is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture ( water) from the atmosphere. In the cold of winter there can be separation and water contamination of the fuel. Hopefully you installed Sta-Bil or some other additive to prevent such an occurrence. Best to top off the tank with fresh gasoline before using the car.

If you are like me, I keep a “To do list” on my cars. Wanting everything in good order come spring, I cycle the cars through the shop. All the aged rubber parts and brake hydraulics should be inspected. Even though there are few miles on the belts and hoses they are made of rubber and can age. Visual inspection can save you costly and inconvenient breakdown. Brake calipers, and wheel cylinders  are similarly made with rubber parts. Cracking or leaking can be detected by visual inspection  and dangerous failure prevented.

yAll fluids should be checked under the hood, the transmission and differential a well. Checking the cars underside can reveal leaks that could cause component failure. Oil as I mentioned before, if it wasn’t changed before storage should be changed now. As my mentor used to say “Oil is cheap engines aren’t.”

I try to use my cars close to home to feel them out before a long trip. The tires may be flat spotted from sitting in one position for to long. A few warm-up cycles may also help. Whatever your agenda for the coming months, service the car now at your leisure and prevent stress on the part of your mechanic  and yourself.