Briarcliff Classic & Imported Car Service Marks 50 Years

Vintage and modern Gullwing Mercedes. Courtesy of Sean S. Smith Photography

Bob Millstein’s shop, Briarcliff Classic & Imported Car Serviceis celebrating its golden anniversary.  

He’s marking the occasion in classic style: driving his 1965 Jaguar XK-E up the switchbacks of the Mount Equinox Annual Hill Climb in Vermont this summer. 

That Jaguar, which Millstein bought as a wreck and restored, is the same one he drove in 1974 when he took second place overall at Mount Equinox. 

Millstein’s racing experiences have helped drive his business success. 

“The same exacting standards I learned working on race cars have been applied to everything we do,” he said during a recent conversation in his office. 

That level of expertise has drawn motorists from across the region and beyond to the tidy shop on Woodside Avenue. A customer recently had his Rolls-Royce flat-bedded up from North Carolina to have it serviced by Millstein. 

The walls of the shop are lined with signed photographs and memorabilia from some of racing’s icons, including Enzo Ferrari, Mario Andretti and Sterling Moss. A glass case holds trophies from Millstein’s exploits at racetracks like Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. 

Bob Millstein and his Jaguar XKE. Courtesy of Sean S. Smith Photography

One longtime customer, Ricardo Scofidio, designed the shop’s office with a glass wall so customers could watch their cars being worked on. Millstein met the renowned architect when Scofidio’s 356 Porsche broke down on Route 9A, 

“I want to educate and inform the customers about the repair on their car,” Millstein said of BCI’s transparency. “They can see the shop is clean, it’s well lit, they can see the mechanics working on the cars here. In a dealership they don’t meet their mechanic, I let them talk to the mechanic to tell them the symptoms of the car and what the car is doing.” 

On a recent February morning, a green 1968 MG MGB was in the shop for servicing, and a DeLorean was up on lift. A 1950 Sunbeam Alpine Talbot basked in the sunny parking lot outside. 

You don’t need to drive a classic car to be a customer. 

 “One reason this shop has existed for 50 years is the eclectic nature of the cars we work on,” Millstein said. “We work on vintage cars and work on servicing new cars.

Leo Bunker assessing the oil on a Jaguar XJ6. Courtesy of Sean S. Smith Photography

We have scanning equipment and we have the technology to do later model cars, but we also have the history of these older cars and have worked on them.” 

BCI prioritizes reliability and safety, and no servicing is complete until the vehicle has gotten a bumper-to-bumper checkup. 

“I try to be an advocate for the customer,” Millstein said. “I view their cars as if they were my own.” 

Besides his experience racing and repairing automobiles, Millstein also races sailboats. He participates in the annual Around Long Island race as well as racing on the Hudson River. He keeps his boat at the Shattemuc Yacht Club in Ossining. 

Loyalty points 

Along with the shop’s longevity, BCI has a track record of continuity among its employees and customers. For example, mechanic Leo Bunker has been with Millstein for 45 years.  

Longtime customer Roland Reisley has had his cars serviced by Millstein for 47 years, including his 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 convertible, and at present, his 1985 Mercedes 500 sedan. 

“Everything he does, he does well and carefully, and you feel good about the work and dealing with him,” said Reisley, of Pleasantville. “You get the sense he knows what he’s doing and he and his people care about doing it right. He also has been very concerned with safety. When he has the car for some kind of routine service, he nevertheless checks things over.” 

Reisley’s Mercedes 500 has logged about 175,000 miles on it, and runs “almost like new,” he said. 

Then and Now 

Millstein grew up in Washington Heights and started working on cars in 1969. He and his older brother, Jeffrey, opened a shop in Queens they dubbed the Underground Garage, decades before Steven Van Zandt used the name for his radio program.  

Their business was growing, so the brothers moved to larger quarters in Yonkers in 1971. The Millsteins and another partner opened the Briarcliff shop in 1974, on a site that once held Briarcliff Farms. Bob Millstein later became sole owner. 

Millstein’s not planning on taking a final victory lap anytime soon. He still gets satisfaction from his customers’ loyalty and enthusiasm, and he’s keen on passing his knowledge along to his two young apprentices. 

“I have no particular reason to retire,” he said. “I enjoy what I’m doing. I especially enjoy the people I work for. I enjoy the people I work with. I like learning all the time. It’s a learning experience, but moreover I’m doing something worthwhile.” 

Briarcliff Classic & Imported Car Service
90 Woodside Ave., Briarcliff Manor


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