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seanscottsmith

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.

Feb 282015
 

The gold rush is on! With car prices soaring, the impetus to restore and sell is great. The problem is in the haste these cars are finished, they are not sorted out. Often as not, they are not driven after restoration and before auction or private treaty sale. No milage since restoration often is not a plus. Details that make a restoration are not satisfactorily completed. All the things that the restorer couldn’t get quite right are left for the new owner to sort out.

We have a saying in the shop “99% restored and 99% left to go.” The last percent is often the most expensive.

Recently a customer had his newly purchased at auction Mercedes Benz 190SL towed into our shop. It had been backfiring and running poorly and ultimately refused to start altogether. Upon inspection the shoddily rebuilt starter and the ring-gear on the flywheel were in need of replacement. In addition the carburetors needed work. The point is that no one seen enough time on the car. Seat time, even modest seat time, would have revealed much. Albeit a very pretty car with a nice coat of paint, it was far from what I would call roadworthy.

The moral of the story is Caveat Emptor. In all cases try to drive the car in as many conditions as possible

Feb 282015
 

Rebuilding your engines not to be taken lightly. It takes expertise, care and precision.

Rebuilding an engine in our shop means putting out a product that is as good as when it left the factory or better, with modern upgrades.

To some rebuilding merely means a “target repair,” replacement of piston rings or engine bearings and a valve job. Unless the engine block and crankshaft are machined to achieve exacting tolerances,  the “target repair” will be short lived. The clearances on the bottom end of the engine are critical in achieving good oil pressure. This can be achieved by cutting the journals of the crankshaft and installing oversized bearings to establish the correct clearance. Once machined, but before final assembly these clearances should be rechecked. Meticulous cleaning of all parts is essential before assembly.

The pistons ride up and down in the cylinders  several thousand times a minute when the engine is running. After years of use the cylinder chamber is worn and not completely round. Once again by merely replacing the piston rings to account for wear the result is short lived and the engine will use oil. To obtain proper results establishing the proper clearances the cylinders need to be bored out to accommodate new oversized pistons.

Once again Valve job has several translations. It can mean merely cutting the valve seats and lapping in the existing valves. Valve stems and the guides with which they ride wear cause oil usage. When the valve head does not properly close against its seat a loss of compression will result. At the machine shop the head is surfaced, checked for straightness and crack tested. The guides,valves,springs, and seals are all replaced. The valve seats are cut on several angles and finally the valves are hand lapped in place.

Engine rebuilding is not to betaken lightly. When someone asks”Why so expensive?”

It takes time and experience to do it right.

A few images from before and during a rebuild.

Feb 282015
 

To begin with a bit of soul searching needs to be done. To determine exactly what needs the car is to fulfill. A Maserati Spyder may not be the correct choice for a station car. Next it is best to determine a budget and explore cars within your means. Cars can depreciate  quickly or maintain their value. A car that is long lasting without frequent repairs will have a higher premium on the used car market.

Having found a car that meets your criterion, it is best to check the car out. Carfax is a useful tool to determine if the car has had issues or was involved in a collision. Then consulting a professional to ask advice or to have the car inspected is a worthwhile investment. n independent mechanic will know which cars are high maintenance and require frequent repairs.

Furthermore it is best to consult service records to see what upcoming maintenance  is due for. For example a timing belt on n Audi could set you back $1000.00.

If you are sending a child off to college and are seeking transportation for you son or daughter, several things should be considered.

I bought my daughter a car to go to collage with. I wanted a car that was safe, reliable and virtually bullet-proof. She was attending collage in Maine, so a 4 wheel drive was mandatory. I decided on a Honda CRX, in addition to being safe and reliable car, there was a dealer in her town which could help her should she require anything. I paid a premium for the car, but it gave me piece of mind.

There is nothing wrong with buying a used car, especially as a second or third car for the family, so long as you do your homework!

Feb 072015
 

Sure it’s cold outside and the last thing you have on your mind is the scheduled maintenance on your car. The very same car you are relying on to start when it’s 5 degrees above zero and you need to get to work.

All the systems in the car are stressed out in extreme weather. No one can anticipate a failure or breakdown, but the best way to prevent that is to have a professional look over your car regularly. Servicing your car may be an inconvenience, but breakdowns are more so and generally much more expensive.

When was the last time you checked your fluids or air pressure in your tires. Even though it’s your daily driver, don’t ignore it, because you count on it.

Feb 072015
 

We keep reading how the classic and vintage car market is going up and up. Cars have proven to be better investments paintings or the stock market, which is true with certain caveats. My first rule of purchasing a classic car, is never to buy a car you don’t really want to own. Short term ownership may have unfortunate financial consequences – not everyone makes money on cars.

Cars unlike other collectibles ( such as stamps and coins) require proper storage. You need dry preferably heated space to store your purchase and your wife  may be reluctant to put her SUV out in the cold in favor of your 190SL. Cars need care and maintenance. Generally a classic car is used less frequently and the battery needs a maintenance charge.

People have an  affinity towards specific cars. That car might be something from their youth, a car they always dreamed about owning. A  car  that you envision yourself in, that gives you  personal joy.  Something that you appreciate for it’s shear beauty and style.These are all good reasons for ownership. Most of all classic cars are an investment you can drive,share and enjoy.

Feb 072015
 

1) Perform any maintenance that you have put off for one reason or another – Now is the time.

2) In addition if there is a want list or major project – now is the time – not when you wish to use the car.

3) Always change the oil before putting the car away; there are contaminants in the oil that should be removed or they will harm the bottom end of the engine. Always bring the engine up to operating temperature before changing oil.

4) Fuel – Now there’s a question. I recommend using a product like “Sta-Bil” added to the fuel. Some recommend keeping the tank 1/2 full and topping it off in the spring. I like to fill the tank up so there is less surface area exposed in the tank. Todays fuels that contain ethanol hold water in suspension in the fuel. Sitting in cold weather there is fuel separation which causes damage to the fuel system.

5) Over inflating the tires by 5psi to keep the tires from deflation and flat spots.

6) Polish the car and chrome to keep the cosmetics good order

7) When storing the car for the winter if it is a manual transmission, it is better to leave it in gear then to use the hand brake, as older cars  have a propensity to have their  hand brake seize from long periods of sitting.

8) Hook up a maintenance charger to the battery. You can leave it plugged in without worry and the battery will have a fresh charge in it when you are ready to roll out in the spring.

Sep 252014
 

As we are coming into fall and then winter and the  classics are put away for the season, remember  Briarcliff Classic  also works on your New and daily drivers. We are here for all your service needs  year round!

Aug 222013
 

SL Mercedes Sports cars. It is simply mind boggling to watch the meteoric rise in price of the Mercedes Benz 190SL and 280SL models. These classic Mercedes Benz sports cars seem to be following the lead of the increasing value of the Gullwing 300SL. The 190SL shares the classic Mercedes look of the Gullwing albeit with a four cylinder engine. The 190SL was followed by the 230SL and later the 280SL, both with six cylinder engines.

If you are considering purchasing any of these vehicles you should do so before they are totally off the charts. In addition, if these are already beyond your price threshold, you might consider a later 450SL or a 560SL, both equipped with eight cylinder engines.

By the way, in my youth, I purchased a 190SL with a factory hardtop for $700.

Aug 252012
 

It’s hard to believe that this year the MGB is celebrating it’s 50th birthday. Undoubtedly the most popular of all the series of MGs, with over a half million cars sold in all forms of the series.

Designer Syd Enever designed the car with a monocoque design doing away with separate body and chassis as previous MGs were built. The result was a lighter stronger car. It was powered by an 1800 cc 4 cylinder engine and was an attractive sports car.We at Briarcliff Classic and Imported Car Service have always catered to MG owners of all series. Although MG was sold in this country, the dealer network was wholly inadequate to service the cars sold. We continue to give knowledgeable, guaranteed   service for MG cars.

In addition we have  a stockpile of used and hard to find parts.