1984 – Inspired by the previous success working with his father in the motor industry, Neil Braybrook created Braybrook’s Car Radio. With just one van and a two-way radio, Neil established Braybrook’s in the car audio sector as a mobile fitting service. At this time, technology was limited, and standard equipment was sparse on most vehicles.
1985 – The compact disc arrived, shortly followed by in-car CD players, giving clients a sound previously un-heard of in a car. The stability of CD was problematic, but with cooperation from manufacturers like Alpine, we continued to build and install increasingly complex sound systems.
1987 – The first permanent workshop facility was opened at Dicker Mill, Hertford. A secure stores area, office and small showroom were constructed to display the increasing array of audio & mobile communications available. This gave us access to more specialist areas and the ability to take on larger projects. Recognition for our skills was awarded in 1988, with a project direct from Alpine Electronics to fully kit out one of their own demonstration vehicles.
In 1990, a further increase in levels of business necessitated a move to our next site where eight weeks were spent specifically modifying the former building to a larger state-of-the-art work facility with offices, larger showroom, stores and sales department.
New equipment dawned soon after with multi-CD changers, electronic crossover networks and bigger and more powerful speakers. Mobile phone technology was growing at its most rapid with fitted car kits for personal portable phones being popular. Many companies became involved in the selling of these phones, but few offered a tailor fitted service to install them. Multi-band aerials, specific consoles and dash mountings, avoiding the need for drilling, became common place with our installations.
In 1993, the first state of the art, no compromise, demonstration vehicle was completed. A Mitsubishi Shogun 3000 V6 with fully loaded sound and communications, this car was used to show, clients and trade alike, the coach fitting and engineering skills we had gained.
Satellite navigation began to evolve, and this new technology gave us a glimpse of where our skills would develop. With coverage being a little ‘patchy’ there were restrictions, but the technology advanced very quickly, and we embraced and integrated this technology as part of their product and fitting range.
In 1997, a new demonstration car was purchased to display an increasing array of technology. A Mercedes Benz E230 was the choice and we installed a navigation system, headrest screens and a video player. To further display the unique talents of the team, a Nintendo 64 was installed with a remote cartridge reader. The knowledge and experience gained from this allowed many possibilities in this ever-growing marketplace.
12 months on and an update to the demonstration car was already required. The E class is stripped of all of its original equipment and updated with newer and more integrated types. All the speakers were replaced, a large amplifier section was installed along with a DVD player and a full Dolby Digital surround sound system creating a full “in-car cinema” effect.
We started a national advertising campaign and was rewarded with an increased number of clients from all over the UK. In 2000, business growth with car manufacturers, dealerships and a direct client base that developed a steady increase of repeat business was recognised with a change of company branding to suit the reputation and professionalism of the company. Our work with Mercedes took on a new level with integration into the existing COMAND system with original CD changers, telephones, and TV tuners.
In 2002 a Mercedes ML 55 AMG demonstration vehicle was purchased and treated to the very latest Alpine F#1 status audio equipment, 6 screens, DVD & CD changers, Playstation & GameCube, taking in-car audio-visual to new heights. The result was a real feast for the senses.
In 2006, we changed our focus. Realising there was a gap in the market to move in to, we concentrated a lot more on Mercedes as the retrofit possibilities were growing. Being able to retrofit almost any original electrical accessory, and some non-electrical, we built bigger and better relationships with Mercedes dealers and owners.
Along with this change in focus came another move for the business and rebranding to show the new direction. In 2008, we took delivery of our new van, a Mercedes Vito Sport X. This came standard with the DVD Rom COMAND, but due to a newer Hard Drive based COMAND system being recently released across the range of Mercedes, we decided to experiment by upgrading the van to all the latest telematics available.
In 2009, after the successful upgrade of the van, Neil purchased a 2002 SL 55 AMG in a bid to see what boundaries there were when it came to upgrading the COMAND in a car. Again, the COMAND system in the SL was very dated. So we undertook a huge project to convert this car to the latest telematic equipment. This meant complete removal of all the wiring harnesses for the head-unit, Bose sound system and CD changer and then putting in the new harnesses for the Harmon Kardon sound system and the new COMAND which has navigation, DVD changer and Bluetooth telephone built in. With the updating of a few trim parts also, there is not much to differentiate the interior of this from later shaped SLs.
With the development of new web-based technologies a change of direction was required. A move to the current premises enabled time to be concentrated on maximising efficiency to maintain an unparalleled, cost-effective service. Building improvements were carried out to facilitate better stock control and improve repair facilities.
Simultaneously, a new website was developed to demonstrate the array of possibilities offered and the need for showrooms diminished. Much time and effort was invested into making a site that is as informative and easy to use as possible.
2019 was the year of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. By working very closely with manufacturers, we have successfully put together a complete range of products and services that will enable “Smart Phone Integration” into almost every Mercedes model from around 2012, and some earlier.
Learning never stops and technology is constantly improving, so here at Braybrook’s we intend to stay at the forefront of our market and will continue to invest in our future, constantly expanding our portfolio to include the latest Mercedes vehicles and product options. Keep an eye out here for updates.