When I finally reach Philip Corsano, 6,000 miles from Seattle in one of those central Italian towns known for its hills and Roman walls, he is in a jovial mood.
“I am over here gardening, and blissfully minding my own business,” the former north Seattle resident reports. “Or I thought I was.”
Nope. You’re going to have to go a lot farther off the grid to escape the clutches of this horror story.
Because like the killer in a Hollywood slasher flick, Corsano’s long-lost car, a “ghost” Jaguar that haunts him from beyond his reach, is ba-aack.
“It’s like a bounced check that won’t stop bouncing,” he says. “They’re going to hunt me with this car after I’m dead and gone.”
It’s now been two years since Corsano lost his beloved Jaguar Vanden Plas XJ8, a beige sedan described in reviews at the time as “like sliding into an English gentlemen’s club.”
The car was towed from in front of his Green Lake home in 2017, then auctioned off without his permission while he was working overseas as a ship’s mate.
As if losing the car wasn’t punishment enough, Corsano continued to get dinged with tickets racked up by whoever was out there squiring it around.
“My car is haunting me from beyond,” he said when I first wrote about his plight, in January 2018.
The whole mess supposedly got resolved when City Hall read the column and redirected $500 worth of tickets to the new owner, as well as apologized to Corsano.
But the haunting wasn’t done. Corsano filed a report with the state that the car had been sold, and so did Lincoln Towing, the company that auctioned it. But whoever bought it never registered it.
And now it has been towed again, once more by Lincoln Towing. If anyone knows Corsano doesn’t own this car anymore, it ought to be Lincoln. But still the company stuck him with the bill.
To date, he owes $251 for the tow, plus another $1,219 for storage and fees, according to Lincoln’s website, seattleimpound.com. It means the ghost Jaguar has racked up a grand total of $2,740 in fines during its wanderings.
“Might as well tack on the United States debt while we’re at it,” Corsano said when I read him the bill.
They took his Jag, but not his sense of humor.
Corsano petitioned the state Department of Licensing for relief. What he got back was a house of mirrors.
“I’m sorry to say that we are not able to remove your name from the title that was issued to you,” wrote a vehicle & vessel operations “liaison.” “In order to complete a transfer of a vehicle we need the proper paperwork, usually completed by the buyer including the ownership document.”
But Corsano doesn’t know who the buyer is, because he didn’t sell the car!
“It’s surreal,” Corsano said. “The car was effectively stolen from me, and I’ll never see it again. At the same time, I’m stuck with it until the end of time.”
A Department of Licensing spokesperson told me Corsano seems to be caught in some glitch, as state records do show his car was sold, which should be enough to clear him of liability. She wasn’t sure why he keeps getting bills. His only recourse now, she said, is to request a copy of the sale report from when Lincoln Towing sold the car and then use that to defend himself against the fees and charges, one bill at a time. From Italy.
“He might even have to go to court, I’m sorry to say,” the spokesperson said.
The impound notice also says Corsano’s driver’s license now “may be in jeopardy” due to the trail of fines left in the ghost Jag’s wake.
Incredibly, the state told me that Lincoln Towing has now sold the Jag for a second time. Corsano’s old friend was auctioned off again April 27.
Yet here we are three weeks later, and still no one has registered as the new owner. Something’s creepy with this car, isn’t it? I feel like it’s now haunting me, too. Will I have to chronicle its roamings for the rest of my journalism career?
The state has got to improve its databases, so that a car it knows Corsano doesn’t own won’t keep badgering him like this. After all, to date it’s only been supremely aggravating, he says.
“But if somebody gets run over by my car, can something serious like that come back to haunt me, too?”