Jerry Gay
Ballardite Frank Meyer has found a simple and affordable way of dealing with a lack of garage space in Ballard -- a car bag, which protects his collector's item: a 1958 MG Magnette.

A surprise package along NW 57th Street

With a lack of garages, parking is limited in Ballard. Yet Ballardite Frank Meyer found a simple and affordable way of dealing with a lack of garage space -- a car bag.

And hiding underneath this big mysterious grey package along NW 57th Street is a car collector's dream: a 1958 MG Magnette.  

Black with chrome detailing, wire wheels, and wooden interior, the car is "a beautiful example of an old car," said Meyer. "It's an English car. When it runs, it runs good. When it doesn't, it doesn't run at all. Typical English car - real temperamental."

The car's temper is why Meyer keeps a modern car around for everyday tasks.

"You just can't depend on a British car that much," Meyer said. "It's my fair-weather car."

Meyer found his MG when he was looking around on Craigslist for an old car in 2004.

"I had never even seen a MG Sedan before. I went to go look at it and bought it on the spot," he recalled.
Meyer has loved old cars since her was a kid. At 16 he dreamed of one day owning a hot rod. And today, a hot rod is still his dream car, said Meyer with a boyish smile.

Meyer had owned numerous cars he said, driving each vehicle "until they dropped".

His favorite among the cars he has owned was a 1970 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe.

"They are so rare, you can't find them anymore," he said. "But I let a non-mechanic work on it and he kind of ruined it. I sold and that was probably a mistake because five years later it was still running."

"Some people like working on cars. I don't," added Meyer. "I like something that looks distinctive and easy to spot in a parking lot but I don't even like talking about cars. Nothing beats hopping behind the steering wheel."

A Ballardite of over 25 years, Meyer initially came to Seattle from Southern California in 1975, with his entire belongings packed on a motorcycle.

"I came to visit a girlfriend and then never left. I'm still trying to figure out why," Meyer said.

His relationship didn't work out and neither did his motorcycle.

"I got caught in the snow one day and as I was slipping down the I-5, I decided I was done [with motorcycles]," he said.

Before riding his mototrcycle up from sunny Southern California to rainy Seattle, Meyer was driving tanks as a marine in Vietnam from 1966 till 1969.

"It was an interesting time," Meyer said. "But unlike at the stories you hear, I was treated well upon return. Still, maybe the draft should be brought back. Too many people making money of war and making it their career. When we were [at war] we were just there to do our job and get out. "

Meyer holds a degree in physical anthropology yet pays his bills with real estate. He will give Seattle five more years before he scoots out of here, he said, maybe taking his fair-weather car to Australia's fair weather, where he'll be driving it on the left side of the road.

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