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Jerry Costacos is the son of Greek immigrants and was born in Longview, WA in 1926. He graduated from West Seattle High School in 1944 and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving on the U.S.S. California and seeing combat in the South Pacific including such campaigns as the battles of Okinawa and East China Sea. After the Navy he enrolled at the University of Washington, graduating in 1950. His love of cars led him to start leasing and operating a parking garage on 4th & Columbia in downtown Seattle in 1954, where he began renting the three cars he owned, a 1953 Chevrolet convertible, a 1954 Plymouth, and a 1954 Chevrolet. He eventually purchased the garage and two adjacent ones, and built his rental car business to 600 cars, eventually merging with the Budget Rent-A-Car franchise for Washington and Oregon in 1983.
From the time he was a child, Jerry loved cars. He loved riding in them and was fascinated with all the different body styles and engines. Before he was able to legally drive, at age 14 and unbeknownst to his parents, Jerry bought a 1927 Pontiac for $10. After a few months of driving it and parking in front of a friend’s house so his parents wouldn’t know, they became wise to this and made Jerry sell the car, which he turned a $3 profit on by selling it for $13. While in high school during WWII, gas rationing allowed each car only 4 gallons per week, which wasn’t enough for Jerry, so he bought two cars, a ’30 Chevrolet and a ’37 Oldsmobile, giving him 8 gallons per week. He also learned to double the weekly mileage in the Chevrolet by mixing the gasoline with a concoction of cleaning solvent and mothballs. With this mixture lowering the octane, the car could only be compression started so he always had to park it on a hill. Being in the car rental business, he continued to be fascinated with all the new trends and changes in each new model year, and enjoyed driving all the different brands and models. From time to time, he would come across a classic car that he liked and bought it.
As the ’31 Model A was a favorite from his high school years, Jerry had always wanted one. In the 90′s, he learned that a childhood friend named Bob Smith had a ’31 Model A. He continued bugging his friend to sell it to him and after 10 years, Bob agreed and Jerry had his Model A. At age 87, Jerry continues to drive to work at the garage six days a week. He’s been married to his wife Eva for 56 years and lives in West Seattle. This past January 1, he began his 61st year at his place of business.