Best of Santa Barbara® 2018: Driving
Ducati of Santa Barbara
17 W. Montecito St.; 884-8443; ducatiofsb.com
Ducati of Santa Barbara wins this category time and time again, possibly for the ultra-high-end, race-bred motorcycles Ducati is known for, or possibly for the vigor of the crew. “We are all enthusiasts,” said owner Carlin Dunne, noting that the gal on the phone could be restoring her vintage bike and that the guy delivering a Vespa could be in a 200 mph race over the weekend. This has been the year of the woman for Ducati, he added, with a record number of bikes big and small sold to female customers. “If you get a chance, come by,” he invited one and all. “You never know what wild project we’re working on.”
Runner-Up: Santa Barbara Motorsports
629 E. Haley St.; 965-8101; ootyscooters.com
With a name like Ooty’s Scooters, who could lose? But far from relying exclusively on name appeal, Ooty’s scions — the company name comes from owner Ryan Neely’s father’s childhood nickname — keep it lively with a reliable variety of scooters (including a zippy, two-tone blue bike with a big engine that has been the scooter of the year), motorbikes, and all the wrench work that goes into keeping people scooting.
Runner-Up: Ducati of Santa Barbara
New Car Dealership
Santa Barbara Auto Group
402 S. Hope Ave.; 682-2000; sbautogroup.com
Once upon a time, your home was your castle; now your car is. Accordingly, for those seeking the automotive equivalent of an extra turret or two, perhaps a gothic cathedral ceiling or even a flying buttress, there is no better place to go than the Santa Barbara Auto Group, a gleaming oasis of internal-combustion luxury located on South Hope Avenue just off the freeway. Offering one-stop shopping for no less than eight high-end car manufacturers, the Santa Barbara Auto Group proves you don’t have to die to go to heaven, nor do you have to pinch yourself to wake up. For those living the dream, it’s where you go to live and to dream. Beyond that, the technicians there boast skills on par with any surgeon.
Runner-Up: Toyota of Santa Barbara
Used Car Dealership
735 N. Milpas St.; 884-8102; milpasmotors.com
Anyone who lives here knows how important it is to drive the right car. And I don’t mean the flashiest or the most expensive, but the right one for you. This is what Milpas Motors has done consistently for thousands of Santa Barbarans — put them behind the wheel of something that does what they need and does it in style. It’s true that in some cases that means a Rolls-Royce, as they have sold their share of those. But for others, it’s a sweet, gently used Prius that will make getting around this town one big step closer to heaven. Whatever your automotive needs, Len Hartmann and his team are more than capable of handling them. These guys know what you should be driving.
Runner-Up: Toyota of Santa Barbara
Educated Car Wash
3735 State St.; 687-8800; educatedcarwash.com
There’s nothing else like it in Santa Barbara. From the statue of the butler on your route to the register to the amazing thoroughness with which the Educated Car Wash team executes each Super Wash, the experience is consistently first-rate. Proprietor Chester Wasem expressed his appreciation for this acknowledgement by the public and promised that a new rewards program for loyal customers would be up and running before the end of October.
Runner-Up: Prestige Hand Car Wash
Quick Oil Change
Ian’s Tires & Auto Repair
4299 State St.; 683-0716; ianstire.com
Democracy being a strange and wonderful thing, our readers elected Ian’s Tires & Auto Repair the best quick oil change shop in town even though that’s not really Ian’s thing. Ian’s — located on outer State just shy of Ye Olde Butcher Shop — has been changing tires with service that’s both down-home and hometown since 1987. While Ian’s does perform lube jobs and oil transfusions, it typically takes a couple of hours. That’s hardly speedy in the hyperkinetic world of automotive bodily fluid swaps. But Ian’s is so straight-from-the-shoulder honest that its employees will tell you this. In fact, they told me if I was looking for a quick oil change, I should go somewhere else — specifically the shop right in front of theirs, Fast Lane. With honesty like that, no wonder Ian’s won.
Runner-Up: Jiffy Lube
Place to Get Tires
Big Brand Tire & Service
Multiple locations; bigbrandtire.com
Big Brand is one of those regional chains that got just big enough, with 18 outlets throughout Southern California, but not too big. Headquartered in Camarillo, Big Brand has two shops in town — one on Milpas and one on Hollister — and both convey the right mix of hump-busting, get-it-done competence with the manly hangout qualities of a neighborhood barber shop. Oh, and did I say they have every brand of tire under the sun, good prices, and the know-how to steer you right? Well, they have all that too. Just don’t get too entranced sniffing all that brand-new rubber.
Multiple locations; enterprise.com
Maybe readers like Enterprise because it has a green logo or maybe it’s because its workers knock themselves out. But like it they do. Once upon time, Avis was number one, and Hertz tried harder — or was it the other way around? — but today Enterprise has eclipsed them all and is now the biggest rent-a-car company on the planet. In fact, it’s bigger than Hertz and Avis combined when it comes to fleet size (roughly one million) and net worth (roughly $14 billion). Enterprise was started in 1957 in Clayton, Missouri, by a Cadillac car salesman with an itchy entrepreneurial spirit named Jack C. Taylor. It was his inspired idea to rent cars to people whose cars were in the shop. He named the company after the battleship on which he was deployed during WWII. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite Enterprise’s massive size, front-line workers take pains to treat you right. And wherever you want to go, there’s an Enterprise outlet already there. Enterprise is more than convenient; it’s irresistible.
2703 De la Vina St.; 962-8015; schneiderautohaus.com
If you want the creature comfort of driving a high-performance machine — a Porsche, Audi, or BMW — then you absolutely need a good garage to keep its motor purring. Schneider Autohaus — always fun to say in a thick Bavarian snarl — is just the place. Located by De la Vina and Alamar streets — long before real estate gurus started calling the area “the Wishbone” — Schneider’s was started back in the day by former NASA engineering marvel Joe Schneider. If Schneider could figure out how to land lunar space modules, then keeping other people’s internal combustion machines shipshape would seem like child’s play. Schneider brought to the task the right mix of mad scientist and grease monkey, and soon he was beating customers off with the proverbial stick. Later, he would sell to current owners Henry and Paula Hinck, who are endowed with a mojo all their own. We hope they stay for years to come.
Runner-Up: DiMauro’s Automotive