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Best of 2011: Driving


Thursday, October 20, 2011
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Motorcycle Dealership

Ducati Santa Barbara

17 W. Montecito St., 884-8443

“We provide a service that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Carlin Dunne, who co-owns the Santa Barbara Ducati dealership with his father, Trevor, who in turn has run this, the biggest Ducati dealership in California, for 35 years. “You can’t get this from a newsletter or a blog. We’re racers and we only carry gear we’ve used, we only carry pants that we’ve fallen in. People know us and the ability to trust someone goes a long way.” By the way, the Dunnes want you to know that they also just acquired the Vespa dealership, so whether it’s a race or a suave form of alternative transportation, they’re where you go vroom.

Finalist

Honda of Santa Barbara

Scooter Dealership

Ooty’s Scooters

629 E. Haley St., 965-8101

Though once known as one of the city’s finest jewelers, Chris Neely was always known to his friends as Ooty. After a life reevaluation and a prolonged trip abroad, Ooty returned to Santa Barbara wondering why we still lumber down the street in two-ton automobiles when the rest of the civilized world is zipping through it on a scooter. He opened Ooty’s to push another type of ride, the type that gets 80 to 100 miles to the gallon and doesn’t clot the street like an SUV. “One less car,” laughed Neely. “That’s what I give people, a bumper sticker that says One Less Car.”

Finalist

Vespa Santa Barbara

By Paul Wellman

Toyota of Santa Barbara’s Anneliese Place

New Car Dealership; Used Car Dealership

Toyota of Santa Barbara

5611 Hollister Ave., 967-5611

Owned by the Hitchcock Automotive Resources group, a company headed by Frederick “Fritz” Hitchcock who owns “a half dozen” dealerships, the prevailing corporate ethos here can be summed up in the local Toyota dealer’s motto: “Big city deals, hometown feel.” Judging by their own Web site, the reviews are fairly positive, but judging by our readers, this is the only place in the city one should buy a car—new or used. It’s hard to imagine that luxury models like Lexus might be the draw, and even though the Matrix and the Corolla sit pretty in many a driveway, it’s the Prius that Santa Barbarans fancy. The industry leader in mixtures of style and cutting-edge green appeal, the hybrid echoes the idea of big city in the hometown, and we live like that.

Finalists

New Car Dealership:

Santa Barbara Auto Group

Used Car Dealership:

Milpas Motors

Car Wash/Detailing

Educated Car Wash

3735 State St., 687-8800

For the last decade plus, it’s been the car salon our readers prefer, even though it’s way uptown on State Street, it offers big draws like a discounted fill-up and a wash and wax for about $15. When you think about all the places your baby takes you, maybe it’s time you took it out for a nice spruce. It’ll do you both good.

Finalist

Fairview In & Out Car Wash

Quick Oil Change

Jiffy Lube

3 locations (in Santa Barbara County)

Like the tension between the urge for more community and the need for contemporary speed, most Americans miss the old personal service station up on the corner, but want to get their car serviced without having to think about it. Jiffy Lube started out as a no-frills, do your oil change and lube in 20 minutes kind of place, and though it has become more complicated and tied to other offerings, it still remains the readers’ choice for car servicing at fast-food speed.

Finalist

Fast Lane Oil Change

Ian's Tires
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Ian’s Tires

Place to Get Tires

Ian’s Tires & Auto Repair

4299 ½ State St., 683-0716

Yet another father-and-son operation on our list of best businesses, Ian’s has been in business on State Street since 1991 with son Eric Miller on board, though papa Ian Miller has been repairing cars and tires for 30 years. This is the first time in almost a decade that the category was not taken by a chain store. “I would imagine people like us because we are family-owned and good at what we do and knowledgeable,” said Eric, though he admits that their competitive prices probably help the old reputation, too. “We are definitely happy we won,” he said.

Finalist

Big Brand Tire Company

Car Rental

Enterprise Rent-a-Car

4 locations (in Santa Barbara County)

Let’s face it, most of us need a car to get around this little town, which has such an undeveloped sense of public transportation, ironically due to its small size. When we don’t have a car, it’s a shock to the system, and we’re fortunate that we have a number of renting companies here to get us through the emergency. Enterprise deals in fleets, sales, and long-term rents, though most of us might just need a car to get down to LAX for a day. It costs about $35, which is about half the price of one way on the bus services. It’s not a bad deal, and the readers pick Enterprise every time.

Finalist

Hertz Rent a Car

Car Stereo Shop

Santa Barbara Auto Stereo and Wireless

3234 State St., 682-2505

They’ve been around since the bad old days when putting an eight-track stereo in your car was what you got for Christmas or graduation. Nowadays, even cheaper models have a CD player installed, and the only place to go with the stereo system is into some esoteric reaches of woofer/tweeter philosophizing or, as is more the case now, integrating your electronic package to include a hands-free phone and a disembodied voice to tell you, you dope, you just missed the turnoff, and you probably shouldn’t stay at the Bates Motel anyway. But SBASW is still there doing business and if you want an eight-track or a cassette player installed, they might look at you funny, but they could probably do it.

Finalist

Car Stereo Guys

Auto Repair

Richard’s Accurate Import Service

401 Santa Barbara St., 962-1741

For over three decades, Richard’s has been servicing import and domestic cars with the underlying assumption that honest service in a small town is the only ingredient to long success. They fix everything from afar — except Jaguars and Land Rovers — and even a few domestic models to boot. They insist their mechanics get highly trained and we insist that they only charge us fairly for work that needs to be done. For more than a decade, our readers have picked them as best for living up to promises.

Finalist

Ayers Automotive Repairs

Billy Collins & Aimee Mann

Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures, Former U.S. Poet Laureate ... Read More