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Assistant Manager Mike Jimenez (left) and Bay Manager Juan "Johnny" Mendoza are ready to get your car a bouncing sound system at S.B. Auto Stereo & Mobile Electronic Center.

Paul Wellman

Assistant Manager Mike Jimenez (left) and Bay Manager Juan "Johnny" Mendoza are ready to get your car a bouncing sound system at S.B. Auto Stereo & Mobile Electronic Center.


Driving

Best of 2009


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Motorcycle Dealership

Harley-Davidson Santa Barbara

3501 Via Real, Carpinteria, 745-1911

What other vehicle line offers products named Fat Bob, Night Train, Softtail, and Street Glide? This is just part of the poetry that surrounds America’s most stylish and, at the same time, most irrefutably outlaw-leaning company in its obvious implications. If putting it in the wind means more to you than a raffish Vespa ride or off-road wackiness, then no doubt you’ve enjoyed a Harley daydream once or twice in the last few years. This hardly seems like a rebel without a cause kind of town, but the readers vote for this store year after year, and they don’t sell no Honda barko-loungers here.

FINALIST: Ducati of Santa Barbara

New Car Dealership

Toyota of Santa Barbara

5611 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 683-2593 or 967-5611

In this year of disastrous car sales, Toyota of Santa Barbara not only survived, but obviously sold enough cars to make the readers notice. It’s home to three hybrids: Prius, Highlander, and Camry. We’ve all read how Cash for Clunkers bought more Toyotas than any “Buy American” product, which, presumably, the program was meant partly to inspire. Who needs to hear lectures? Yet again (remember the 1970s? Anyone? Anyone?), foreign carmakers lead us into the future, where Santa Barbara drivers obviously want to go.

FINALIST: Santa Barbara Auto Group

Used Car Dealership

Zoom Motors

335 N. Milpas St., 963-3989

Besides a stock of gourmet previously owned vehicles on hand, Zoom Motors advertises itself as a kind of Joseph the Provider for people seeking hard-to-get models. This means Zoom can procure a Lamborghini as well as that hard-to-order all-black Hybrid. We wonder if it can get electric. Just how much a service like this is needed in hard times is underscored by the fact that Zoom won favor with our picky voting public.

FINALIST: Milpas Motors

Car Wash/Detailing

Educated Car Wash

3735 State St., 687-8800

The fact that Educated boasts the fastest, most reasonably priced, and thorough car cleaners we know in a convenient city-central location makes it easy to understand why this longtime Santa Barbara business takes this category year after year.

FINALIST: Fairview In & Out Car Wash

Quick Oil Change

Jiffy Lube

932 De la Vina St., 564-3393; 6015 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 683-4100; 503 N. H St., Lompoc, 736-3372; 1860 S. Broadway St., Santa Maria, 922-1948

More important than anything else you can do for your car-which is starting to look like a very precious investment, if not an endangered species-is regularly changing the oil and checking all those little places that need fresh grease. Jiffy Lube advertises the cheapest and fastest servicing, and, as of press time, was offering to give your new ride its first oil change for free; everybody else gets $10 off with an online-available coupon to celebrate this popular business’s 30th birthday. Smooth.

FINALIST: Fast Lane Oil Change

Car Rental

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

601 Chapala St., 966-3097; 114 Moffett Pl., 683-3012; 3210 State St., 569-6222; 5959 Hollister Ave., #B, Goleta, 683-0067

There hardly seems to be any kind of competition in this category anymore-remember when Avis used to brag about being number two and trying harder? Year after year, Enterprise-which has a stiff upper-lip corporate name, don’t you think?-wins this category for those who need to get a temporary getaway car, a set of wheels to take them to that megalopolis airport down south, or just something while the family beast is being repaired. Four locations make them convenient. They’re number one and they don’t just try; they do.

FINALIST: Avis

Car Stereo Shop

Santa Barbara Auto Stereo & Mobile Electronic Center

3234 State St., 682-2505

S.B. Auto Stereo’s been around since the age of eight-track tapes, but now it’s more likely to be installing either a hands-free phone system or an adaptor so your iPod can deliver tuneage to you when you’re motoring highways and byways. Courteous staff people-they won’t laugh at your techno-phobias-and fast, reliable service are how they built a business making soundtracks for your road trips.

FINALIST: Best Buy

Auto Repair

Richard’s Accurate Import Service

401 Santa Barbara St., 962-1741

We’re a Santa Barbara institution,” said Mike Bishop, owner of Richard’s Accurate, a business, as he points out, that’s been around since before this newspaper. But that’s not why Bishop thinks his customer base is so loyal. His technicians are up on the latest technology, which makes the difference between a real mechanic and someone who just changes parts until your car runs again. But the people at Richard’s really pride themselves most on the integrity they bring to every job.

FINALIST: Ken Symer Automotive

Place to Get Tires

Big Brand Tire Co.

1909 S. Broadway St., Santa Maria, 346-6322; 900 N. I St., Lompoc, 736-1550; 99 S. Fairview Ave., Goleta, 967-1917; 7 N. Nopal St., 963-0355

Big Brand’s real appeal is its big brands: Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli, and more-tires that have proven track records, so to speak, at prices well below other dealerships. Maybe you’re tired already, but it must be done, and the voters say that’s the place to get tread without getting trod.

FINALIST: Costco

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