Papa John’s Golden Camaro Lost, Found, Then Lost Again?

Franchise founder Schnatter’s classic car boosted from Detroit-area exposition.

In 1983 the establishment owned by John Schnatter’s dad was struggling to keep its doors open. So–the story goes–Schnatter sold his black and gold 1971 Camaro Z28. He gave some of the proceeds to his father and with what was left he launched the pizza-delivering empire called Papa John’s.

In 2009 the wildly successful “Papa” John decided he wanted his Camaro back. With some assistance from the internet and $250,000, Schnatter’s vintage car was returned to him.

This weekend Papa John’s Camaro seemed to vanish again. It was stolen Sunday from an Oakland County, Michigan classic cars expo, the Woodward Dream Cruise event. 

Speaking to the Associated Press, a spokesman for Papa John’s said Schnatter was “distraught.” Jerry Anderson, a Vietnam vet whose ’66 Chevy Chevelle was taken with Papa John’s Camaro, told the AP that the thief or thieves were “low-life people. I mean really low-life.”

Turns out Papa John didn’t have to wait long to have his sweet ride returned to him. Monday morning the Detroit Free Press reported that the Camaro had been discovered on the west side of Detroit, sitting in a driveway across from a combined elementary/middle school. The vehicle was still in good condition. A Detroit PD spokesman said “intense media pressure” helped them recover the stolen property. 

There is still a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the car thieves. Maybe Papa John might consider kicking in a good helping of fresh, hot pizza?

Below: Report on the theft of the Camaro, made before its recovery.