The Chain Gang

Someone Stole Papa John’s Beloved Camaro

The Papa John's Camaro will ride again.
The Papa John’s Camaro will ride again. Photo: ABC7

It’s hard to one-up the Papa John’s origin story: To launch his global pizza empire in 1983, John Schnatter used the $2,800 he made from selling his 1971 Camaro Z28. While he loved owning a massively successful pizza chain, he regretted losing that classic car, so he spent the next 25 years hunting it down, and eventually bought it back for a cool $250,000.

After so much money and labor, it’s no wonder the car randomly appeared in so many Papa John’s ads:

This weekend, though, some jerk stole the car from him. Schnatter carted his baby to Detroit for a famous classic-car event called the Woodward Dream Cruise, and woke up yesterday morning to find that it (and the trailer it was on) had disappeared. Schnatter was said to be fairly “distraught,” but luckily for him, the car is unique-looking, bright gold, and pretty famous. It turned up in an abandoned home’s driveway on the west side of Detroit this morning.

A landscaping team showed up to mow the yard, and one of the workers tells ABC 7: “We looked over and saw a Camaro sitting over there, and I was like, ‘Wow, that looks like the Papa John’s vehicle.’”

It was returned to Schnatter mostly unscathed — the license plate holder got bent, and the plate’s MIA. USA Today notes an Altoids tin was also wedged behind the steering wheel, perhaps the work of a Papa John’s enemy who hated the breath-ruining Fritos Chili Pizza.

[USA Today, ABC 7]

Someone Stole Papa John’s Beloved Camaro