Papa John’s stolen 1971 Chevrolet Camaro has been found in Detroit, and Papa is pleased

Papa John's 1971 Camaro
Jerry Edmundson/Flickr

Papa John’s pizza founder John Schnatter did not have a good past couple days. Business was fine, but his beloved 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 replica was stolen from Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

As part of a promotion for Papa John’s pizza, Schnatter coordinated his Camaro’s delivery to the car show from its home in Kentucky. Early Sunday morning, a thief absconded with a tow truck, trailer, and the ’71 Camaro … but not for long.

“We believe the pressure of the media forced them to dump the vehicle,” Sgt. Jonathan Parnell, of the Detroit Police Department’s commercial auto theft unit, told The Detroit News.

Ernest Webster discovered the vehicle stuffed between two abandoned homes while he was mowing a nearby lawn. Not far off, the stolen truck and trailer were found.

“I saw the car parked between those two houses,” Webster said. “I said, ‘Man, that looks like that Papa John’s car.’ I looked inside and it was really clean. I called my brother-in-law, who is a cop, and he told me to call 911.”

old papa john and camaro

The pleased Papa has pledged a $16,000 reward for finding the stolen car “once the investigation is closed.”

“Papa John’s can confirm that John Schnatter’s beloved replica Chevy Z28 Camaro, which was stolen this Sunday night from the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, has been discovered,” the pizza proprietor stated. “We are thrilled that a piece of our company’s history has been recovered, and we will continue to work with authorities during their ongoing investigation.”

“Thrilled” is probably understated as the story of how Schnatter found his long-lost Camaro is quite the tale. Schnatter sold the Camaro in 1983 to fund his pizza business, and in 2009, he offered $250,000 for any information that could lead him to his vehicle. As luck would have it, the car was located close to Papa John’s headquarters in Kentucky.

Unless John is behind the wheel (or within eye sight), don’t expect to see his golden Camaro far from its homeland anytime soon.

[Header image courtesy of Jerry Edmundson/Flickr]