The hard-working crew at Educated Car Wash makes this our readers’ perennial best place to get clean.

Paul Wellman

The hard-working crew at Educated Car Wash makes this our readers’ perennial best place to get clean.

Best of Santa Barbara 2012: Driving

Motorcycle Dealership

Ducati Santa Barbara

17 W. Montecito St., 884-8443

Believe it or not, this is another business unofficially charter-membered into the 35-Year-Old Club. (Apparently 1977 was a big year around here; did anybody notice at the time?) Ducati Santa Barbara is the oldest Ducati dealership in the state and offers two generations of experience selling Italian two-wheeled glory, new and used. Honda? Hardly. Harley? So last year. This town rolls on Multistradas, Diavels, and, well, okay, the occasional Vespa. Just another of the manifold quirky reasons this town is so odd and so awesome.


By Paul Wellman

Ooty’s owners Chris and Kathy Neely scooting.

Scooter Dealership

Ooty’s Scooters

629 E. Haley St., 965-8101

Chris Neely came back from a trip overseas knowing that something was wrong. Everywhere else but America, he saw people employing forms of transportation that were small, fuel-efficient, and far less polluting than the monstrous vehicles that seem to rule the roads here in Southern California. He decided to do something about it and in 2007 opened Ooty’s Scooters. “We’re offering alternative affordable transportation. Our license plate frames read, ‘One Less Car.’ And we’re improving the environment one scooter at a time.”


New Car Dealership; Used Car Dealership

Toyota of Santa Barbara

5611 Hollister Ave., Goleta, (877) 572-1130

In the 1970s, Volkwagens ruled the town. After 10 years, it looked like Santa Barbara had somehow become a suburb of Sweden, so many Volvos paraded the streets. Nowadays, it’s the Toyota Prius — though the other models do all right, too — that defines the townspeople’s connection to automotive bliss. Voted top dealer for more than a decade, Toyota of Santa Barbara promises big-city deals with a small-town feel, and the readers must insist they agree.


Car Wash/Detailing

Educated Car Wash

3735 State St., 687-8800

Another annual prize taker, Educated Car Wash fans always cite the convenience of a one-stop gas-up (for cheap) and washup service so you can return to the freeway before any of your traffic-jam buddies notice you’ve gone. Actually, in a town where a slower pace is appreciated, Educated still gets good grades for the thorough cleaning and low prices.


Quick Oil Change

Jiffy Lube

Three locations

There are a few jobs that must be done, though few people take pleasure in doing them or getting them done, and the rewards afterward are a little abstract. An oil change is a perfect example of something you know must be done, but experience as pleasure only for a few seconds. The best way to do it, then, is quick, cheap, and convenient. This is the essence of the term no-brainer. It’s hard to argue with the readers’ annual pick of this solid, inexpensive chain.


Place to Get Tires

Big Brand Tire & Service

Four locations

Which Big Brands? Bridgestone, Michelin, Firestone, Cooper, and Goodyear, to name the ones it has. A favorite for two years running now, Big Brand offers full service, doesn’t do “bait and switch” special sales, and even posts the president’s phone number on its website and encourages you to reflect on how the rubber met the road.


Car Rental

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Many locations

These are the voyages of the Enterprise. Its mission? To boldly rent split infinitives to Santa Barbarans, coupes and SUVs, too. With an advertised rate of as low as $10.95 a day, numerous locations, and a nationwide base for getting and leaving your rental, it’s no wonder this chain wins year after year.


Auto Repair

Richard’s Accurate Import Service

401 Santa Barbara St., 962-1741

“We’re AAA approved,” said owner Michael Bishop. “And our pricing is really good, and we never do unnecessary repairs. In fact, since everything is on a computer, we can tell you what needs to be fixed, and then tell you, well, somewhere down the line you’ll have to look at this other thing. But we never push it, and we’re so happy that we win.”


To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Newly Restored Wetlands Opens Public Trails

North Campus Open Space near UCSB is seeing wildlife returning already.

Mental Health Experts Consider More Psychiatric Beds

Hospital leaders are in talks with county Behavioral Wellness and Sheriff's Office.

Report on Disasters Praised, Criticized

A representative with Montecito's volunteer responders found the report lacking.

Bellosguardo Fundraiser Draws Big Donors and Heavy Criticism

The nonprofit foundation, set up to fulfill Huguette Clark's legacy, also faces a legal challenge.

Arts and Honors Scholarship Deadlines Approach

High school seniors can now apply to S.B. Scholarship Foundation for financial awards.