Dashboard Confidential
How does Katella look, Dave?

By Dave Sweetman, columnist

One of the fun aspects of dragging cool cars around the country for clients, shows and events is that, on occasion, a deal pops up that is too good to be true. I try to keep my hands and checkbook under control, but there have been some choice offers.

In the past I have bought a very nice Mercedes Roadster that a client wanted to sell to keep his ex-wife from getting it. I offered, he accepted, and I drove it away. Several years later, I traded it for a vintage Ferrari, which was one of the most fun cars I ever owned.

I am by no means a high roller, rather just another car-loving mope who watches his pennies, but enjoys a fun ride. One such ride was a very nice older Porsche I bought at a vintage car auction. Being a transporter, I loaded up the car and took it home to southern California.

Along the way, I stopped at a friend’s shop in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a service and new tires. Cashing extra Comcheks along the way, I had the cash to pay for my sins. My friend took my personal check, so I had a wallet full of cash.

At the time, I lived in Anaheim and parked my truck in the gated lot at Ferrari’s tech center on Katella Avenue in Cypress, Calif., a short five-minute drive from home.

Pulling the truck into the complex, I noticed several police units working a fender bender across the street. Unloading the Porsche, I threw my suitcase into the back and let myself out the gate. The car had an expired temporary tag in the back window that, although … (ahem) … was not exactly kosher, would look good on the short drive home to get my real plates and registration.

Stopping at the first traffic light, I saw a police motorcycle a few car lengths behind me. I noticed another coming out of the shopping center to my right. Getting the green light, I rolled down Katella and noticed several patrol cars coming at me.

As if on cue, the police cars turned sideways in front of me, blocking the street. I came to a quick stop as the car doors opened and all of the officers pointed their shotguns and handguns at me. I was instructed to exit the car and lie face down on the pavement, arms outstretched. With a half dozen weapons pointed at my head, I was told if I moved they would kill me.

I was then cuffed, searched and stuffed in a patrol car. I asked what I had done and was told to shut up.

About 20 minutes later, a patrol car pulled up and I was put on display. Hat on, glasses off, hat off, glasses on, turn sideways, all part of a one-man police lineup. Back in the car for another 20 minutes and I was photographed, handcuffs removed and released.

It was then explained to me that an hour before, a bank in Westminster was robbed and I fit the description. The robber was wearing brown uniform pants, a T-shirt with a logo on it, baseball cap and sunglasses, driving a brown Porsche, rounded in the back with a T-tag.

The police sergeant showed me a copy of the surveillance camera photo and it was scary. It looked like me. My mother would have thought I was the robber, it was that close.

In addition, the money taken was $1,500 in $100 bills and I just happened to have $1,500 in my wallet. The saving grace was the bank teller in the police car said I was too tall to be the robber. I then pointed out the repair bill in the glove box being the reason I had that much money, as my dealer pal took my personal check. I also pointed out that I was wearing a company uniform and would hardly rob a bank with a picture of my truck on the front. And why would a guy driving a Porsche rob a bank anyway? I was reminded that it was California.

Several of our drivers like to remind me of the episode, including the age old question, “How does Katella look, Dave?”

Pretty dang scary. Thanks for the reminder. LL