Uber must be short for “ubiquitous” because just about anywhere you check, a dozen Uber vehicles are cruising around. According to Stephanie Sedlak with Uber communications, the Santa Barbara area is home to more than a thousand people signed up to drive for the online taxi service. With that kind of drivership, a new one must sign on every day. At the makeshift upper State Street headquarters for area Uber Expert Joel Ruiz, an enthusiastic new driver, daylighting from her evenings singing opera, was “ready to go make some money,” she exclaimed. And she probably will, as Uber app updates now let passengers tip the driver or even have them bring a meal from a nearby restaurant.
Ducati of Santa Barbara
17 W. Montecito St., 884-8443, ducatiofsb.com
“Thank you, Santa Barbara,” said Carlin Dunne, when he heard Ducati of Santa Barbara had won Best Of once again. The coolest motorcycle shop in town just got even more chill this year through a partnership with KickstandRentals.com on Vespas by the hour. It’s an add to the amazing range of new and used bikes of the exotic variety that this shop offers at every price, small and large, as well as fabrication and vintage restoration. “The real backbone of our dealership has always been our service department,” said Dunne. “We work on almost all makes: dirt, street, scooter — you name it!”
Finalist: Santa Barbara Motorsports
629 E. Haley St., 965-8101, ootyscooters.com
Ooty’s Scooters has more to celebrate this year than its continuing clean sweep of this category: a full decade providing relatively inexpensive, high-gas-mileage scooters to Santa Barbara. Named for current proprietor Ryan Neely’s father, Chris Neely, who gained the nickname during youthful summers spent in Yosemite Valley, Ooty’s brings the Euro tradition of small, minimally invasive, four-stroke two-wheelers to the mean streets of our town, providing all the education and maintenance support to allow the most timid among us to ride like a Wild One.
Finalist: Ducati of Santa Barbara
New Car Dealership
Toyota of Santa Barbara
5611 Hollister Ave., Goleta, (877) 572-1130, toyotaofsantabarbara.com
It’s a trope, but it’s true. There’s nothing like the smell of a new car. Fortunately for buyers, that tantalizing scent is still legal and can be found nowhere better than at Toyota of Santa Barbara. From preferred environmental alternatives that range in scale from the Prius to the RAV4 and Highlander to the gas-powered Tundras and Tacomas they are so well known for, Team Toyota has been affirmatively declared Santa Barbara’s cup of tea.
Finalist: Santa Barbara Auto Group
By Paul Wellman
Used Car Dealership
Santa Barbara Auto Group
402 S. Hope Ave., 682-2000, sbautogroup.com
Santa Barbarans looking for a good deal on a great ride have been browsing Santa Barbara Auto Group for some time now, and 2017 is the year they all decided to vote the company and its used-car sales staff The Best. “Our internal mission statement is to simply ‘Do ordinary things extraordinarily well,’” said general manager Duane Sanders, a guide to success he said only works when you have “great teammates and great teamwork.” The Auto Group stocks brands from Acura to Porsche, and lots of vehicular luxury in between, as well as parts, service, and new cars, a winning combination its customers have found irresistible. “We appreciate the recognition,” Sanders added, “and are grateful to be in such a wonderful community.”
Finalist: Toyota of Santa Barbara
Educated Car Wash
3735 State St., 687-8800, educatedcarwash.com
That so many people regularly brave the congestion of upper State Street to come to Educated to have the grit and grime bathed from their automobiles is a testimony to the allure of a beautifully polished car. Or possibly the cheapest gas in town, which is also what Educated touts, alongside biodegradable soaps, top-and-bottom cleaning, speck-free vacuuming, and sparkling-clean windows — all in the space of 15 minutes and a couple of sawbucks.
Finalist: Fairview Car Wash
Quick Oil Change
Multiple locations, jiffylube.com
Gas stations may not offer much in the way of services any longer, but a place like Jiffy Lube does most everything they used to, except pump gas. Once your vehicle glides into an open bay, by the time you’ve inspected the doughnuts on offer in the waiting room or made a cup of coffee from the Keurig machine nearby, you’ve barely got time to enjoy them before the gentleman behind the counter informs you your car is ready to go. You’re soon on your way, truly in a jiffy.
Finalist: Fast Lane Oil Change
By Paul Wellman
The friendly fellows at Big Brand Tires get rave reviews and lots of votes not only for being the best about replacing tires quickly and efficiently but also for dealing well with all the ancillary bits and pieces that your wheels require every so often: the fluids hidden under the hood, battery and lights, wiper blades, brakes, even engine services. But it’s tires — in need of fixing, rotating, balancing, aligning, or abandoning for new ones — that they seem to have a special affinity for, rarely letting a customer down, even when they’re flat.
In a place like Santa Barbara, rental cars are essential, both for visitors and the many who greenly own electric cars that might not get them very far out of town. Enterprise stands out from its competitors, perhaps for the high-energy positivity evinced by Katy Daly, a management trainee at the airport location, who thought her company’s attitude that “the customer’s always right, no matter what” might be what keeps their customers happy and coming back. She laughed and said that she probably shouldn’t discuss what they found left behind in their vehicles, but dog hair was “always fun to clean” out of the cars they try hard to present spotlessly.
“Surprise me,” said Jeff Hurnblad before hanging up the phone. He was too busy with anxious customers and their broken cars to spend time talking with the Indy on why his place was The Best. It’s obvious. After around 35 years keeping his customers on the road with the know-how that only comes from time spent in and under the bowels of motorized vehicles, Hurnblad and his two sons have earned the trust and accolades of just about everyone who’s ever ventured down Olney Street in Goleta to find them, just shy of runway 25 and past the concrete yard.