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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.