Jeff Berman


Long Island Car Collectors Tout Favorite Models, Eye Next Additions

Sergio Alvarez and his son, Logan, pose with his Porsche 918 Spyder.

Long Islanders love their cars. Some Long Islanders really, really love their cars, and even love many of the ones they don’t even own…yet.

This is evident by the many car shows, swap meets or other gatherings of local car collectors that are routinely held throughout Long Island – from Belmont Racetrack to the parking lots where local collectors show off everything from collectible exotic cars to custom hot rods and classics of all kinds.

“I have had a love for all things automobile since the age of 5,” says Sergio Alvarez, 45, of Old Brookville, who has been collecting cars for the past five years. “I still own my first-ever car.”

That 1985 Pontiac Firebird, which he bought used in 1991, is now part of a collection that includes more than 20 cars, including 14 “supercars” and one “hypercar” – all limited and special edition models, he says. For the uninitiated, supercars are generally classified by car enthusiasts as high-end models that are faster and more expensive than most cars released in any given year, while hypercars exceed the average supercar in speed, performance and price.

He’s overcome one of the main challenges that car collectors often face: finding a place to store them all — although his 14-car garage is now at capacity. Alvarez struggled to name his favorite.

“That’s like asking which one is your favorite kid,” he says. “They are all so different and unique it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to make a choice, it would be the Porsche 918 Spyder. It is one of the world’s fastest cars in every respect.”

But still, he wants more.

“One that I missed on that I really want is the Ferrari LaFerrari,” he says. “The prices have skyrocketed, and I missed the opportunity to get one early on.”

Steve Linden, 60, of Smithtown, meanwhile, has been collecting cars and motorcycles for about 40 years.

“My father enjoyed old cars, and he got me interested,” he says. “This seems to be a common theme in the collector car community.”

Linden is “down to one car (and one motorcycle) in addition to my daily drivers” right now, he says, adding it’s “much more enjoyable to use the car that I have, rather than spend all of my spare time maintaining a large collection.”

At one time, he had about 10 cars and 10 motorcycles, and over the years he’s owned well over 100 collector cars, he says, noting he keeps his vehicles in a barn on his property now, but rented a warehouse in St. James when his collection was larger. His favorite is a 1972 Cougar convertible that he’s owned for over 40 years.

“My wife and I drove off from our wedding in it, and my son drove it to his prom,” he says. “We use it regularly, and even though it looks great, we don’t worry about parking it and leaving it.”

He cited a 1971 or 1972 Pantera and a 1956 or 1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II as the cars he longs for.

“I think that they are both beautiful examples of the market that they were intended for,” he says.

The history behind the eventual production of either of those car models could also easily be the subject of a movie, he says.

“If the opportunity to own the right car were to come along, I would probably buy it,” he says. “But, it’s been my experience that these opportunities come along when you’re not looking. If you’re looking for the perfect car, you probably won’t find it.”

At 27, Reid Branston is the youngest of the three local car collectors interviewed for this story. He’s been collecting cars for more than five years.

“I got into cars through my father, who is a huge collector,” he says.

The two of them run the exotic and classic car dealership Motorcar Classics in Farmingdale. Between the cars he and his father, Motorcar Classics CEO and founder Will Branston, own and cars they’re selling through the dealership, they have at least 70-plus classic and late model cars, Reid says.

The “coolest” model they have in their inventory now is Paul Newman’s 1978 Datsun 280ZX racecar. But the car he would most love to add to his collection is the BMW Z8, he says.

“I’ve sold a few over the years through our dealership,” he says. “But I’ve never owned one personally.”

This driveway full of sports cars is less than half of Alvarez’ collection.

Rallye Auto Group Eager for New Models at NY Auto Show

2018 Lexus LS

Like many car enthusiasts, Juliana Curran Terian, President and CEO of Rallye Auto Group in Roslyn, is eager to see the new models that carmakers take the wraps off of at the New York International Auto Show.

The show, which will be held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan March 30-April 8, inspires an annual pilgrimage of car enthusiasts and auto industry types. As of mid-February, most carmakers still hadn’t announced what new models they planned to show at the event, but some clues snuck out.

“We don’t know what they’re going to show us because even they, at the last minute, they’re scrambling to see what they’re going to be able to finish to put in the show,” Terian says, noting that carmakers also tout new models at other car shows around the globe each year and try to top themselves each time.

The carmakers typically hold preview events in New York for car dealers and reporters, right before they open the show to the public. Typically, much of the biggest new car news winds up being announced at those press events.

Terian has been attending the New York show for about 15 years.

“I remember when smart cars first came out and the cars that I saw at the auto show weren’t necessarily the cars that we were able to get to sell,” she says. “I loved those and when I went to Europe and went to the auto show, those were always the most fun. They had all the electric cars.”

Rallye Auto Group — which has separate Acura, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz dealerships on Long Island — doesn’t carry such vehicles since “there’s not a big ask for electric in our market,” she says. “We do more luxury cars in our neighborhoods where our dealerships are.”

The all-electric cars aren’t as popular as the hybrid car models that use gas and electric, she notes, saying hybrid models are “really the way to go in the future.”

On the luxury car front, Terian said she had heard Lexus will probably show the 2018 LS (luxury sedan) at the New York show, calling that a “beautiful car” that she saw in summer 2017 at the annual dealer meeting in Colorado. Lexus confirmed that it will be showing the new LS at the show.

The carmaker already announced that new flagship LS at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January and even ran a Super Bowl ad for it. Terian expects that model to be available in March, by the time the New York show starts.

It’s also possible that BMW will show the 2019 i8 hybrid Roadster, she says. BMW declined to provide any details on what it planned to tout at the New York show. But the carmaker already showed that model at the Los Angeles Auto Show last year.

The convertible car “has a soft top that opens in 15 seconds,” Terian says of the model, predicting it will be “hot” and customers are “going to eat it up” – especially the ones who like to be the first ones to get something.

“If it’s beautiful and it’s environmentally responsible,” that’s a big plus.

So far, Rallye hasn’t carried a lot of hybrid car models simply because the brands its dealerships carry haven’t offered that many, she notes.

“But whenever there’s a car that you can get either all gas or hybrid… people go for the hybrid,” she says. “I bet our customers would be more interested in safety features than in hybrids if they had to choose one thing to pay more for… especially the Mercedes customer.”

It also remains to be seen if any carmakers will showcase autonomous/self-driving car models at the New York show.

“If any of our customers would be interested in it, I think they would have one as the other car; like the second car would be one, or maybe the fifth car,” Terian says.

Although the technology is close to becoming available, it also remains to be seen how fast they will make it on our roads because “people want to drive their own car,” she says.

Long Island Tech Companies Tout New Products at CES

Carson Optical’s MicroMini MM-380 20x with smartphone adapter.

Every January, technology companies from around the world – including several from right here on Long Island – gather in Las Vegas to tout their latest products and services at the massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The standout trend this time was the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) – used already in Amazon Echo and its other gadgets using the Alexa voice-powered personal assistant – across a vast array of new devices and services. Other standout trends reflected the growth of Ultra High-Definition (UHD) TVs that offer four times the resolution of HD TVs and over-the-top (OTT) streaming video services, as more and more consumers “cut the cord” with traditional pay TV services.


Among LI companies at CES, none demonstrated as many key show trends as Plainview based NeuLion, specializing in digital video broadcasting and the distribution and monetization of live and on-demand content to Internet-enabled devices. The company demonstrated new features of its NeuLion Digital Platform, used by a variety of media companies. “One of the biggest things that we launched at the show was the ability to collect watch data” enabling clients to gain better insight into how viewers are watching streamed OTT content and on what devices they’re watching, Chris Wagner, NeuLion co founder and executive vice president, said.

Carson Optical

Among the new microscopes and telescopes from Ronkonkoma-based Carson Optical, one clear standout was the MicroMini MM-380 20x with smartphone adapter. It offered a clear sign that smartphone popularity is even impacting the microscope market. The $19 microscope comes with an LED microscope light, an LED flashlight and a UV light.

Innovative Technology

Port Washington’s Innovative Technology capitalizes on turntable demand and its purchase of the historic Victrola brand name. Standout new products that the US record player market share leader introduced at its 15th CES were the Madison, a reproduction of a 1922 Victrola turntable that retails for $199, and a new mid-century modern line ($199-$149) that’s highlighted by the Empire, said CEO and company founder Corey Lieblein. These “all-in-one” music systems feature not only turntables, but a CD player, FM radio and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The Empire also has a cassette player.


Kings Park-based massage- and pain-relief tech company truMedic introduced the MC 750 Zero Gravity Compact Massage Chair at $1,799.97 and the MC-500 Rocking Chair Massager at $1,999.97. The latter “combines the relaxation of a rocking chair with Shiatsu massage and zero gravity to provide a stress-relieving experience even in smaller condos and apartments,” the company said.