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.
FINALIST: SANTA BARBARA MOTORSPORTS
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.”
FINALIST: DUCATI VESPA OF S.B.
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.
FINALISTS: New Car Dealership: SANTA BARBARA AUTO GROUP; Used Car Dealership: MILPAS MOTORS
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.
FINALIST: FAIRVIEW 76 AND CAR WASH
Quick Oil Change
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.
FINALIST: FAST LANE OIL CHANGE
Place to Get Tires
Big Brand Tire & Service
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.
FINALIST: IAN’S TIRES & AUTO REPAIR
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.
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.”
FINALIST: TOP SHOP AUTOMOTIVE