Papa John's Owner's Famous $250,000 Gold Chevrolet is Found Dumped in Detroit a Day After it was Stolen From Classic Car Show

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The famous gold and black Chevrolet owned by Papa John's founder John Schnatter has been discovered between two derelict houses after it was stolen from a classic car show in Detroit. 

Jonathan Parnell of the Detroit Police Department said the vehicle - which has been used in pizza commercials and as a racing car - was probably dumped by thieves because it was very recognizable. 

Parnell told the Detroit News on Monday: 'We received a 911 call about the vehicle at about 9:30a.m. The vehicle was intact with minimal damage. 

'We took the vehicle into evidence to see if we can discover any information about the people who stole the car.

'We believe the pressure of the media forced them to dump the vehicle.' 

The car was discovered by lawn maintenance man Ernest Webster, who saw it parked in a driveway between two brick, single-story homes on a lot filled with tall weeds on Detroit's west side. 

Its Kentucky license plate of PZZA1 was missing and the holder bent backward - but apart from that it was in good condition. 

Webster told the Detroit News: '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."

Asked if thought there might be free pizzas for discovering the Camaro, Webster laughed and said: 'I don't need pizzas. I need money!'

Schnatter sold the car in 1983 to raise the money to start his business. But after a 25-year search he bought it back in 2009 for $250,000. He is now believed to be worth a quarter of a billion dollars. 

His car went missing on Saturday night after being displayed at Woodward Dream Cruise event in Oakland County on Saturday.

It was in its trailer parked near the showground when it was stolen. The trailer was found a mile away on Sunday morning.

Two other classic cars were also taken from Woodward Dream Cruise at the weekend. Police are still searching for the red 1966 Chevrolet Corvette and black 1966 Chevelle 300 Deluxe, reports CBS Detroit. 

The owner of the black car is Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Jerry Anderson. He told CBS Detroit: 'It’s very disheartening that people in the United States would ever do something like this to somebody’s property. They’ve got to be low-life people. I mean really low-life.'

John Schnatter, who has more than 3,400 restaurants around the world, was said to be distraught after his beloved car was stolen.

Despite his phenomenal success, he never forgot the 1971 Camaro, which he sold for $2,800 (£1,780) in 1983, reports Jalopnik. 

He used that money to save his father's tavern, which was on the brink of bankruptcy, and start Papa John's - then dedicated decades to trying to find the car again.

A friend of his looked for the car for most of the 1990s and even hired an ex-FBI agent to try and find it.

Schnatter initially offered a $25,000 (£15,900) finder's fee to anyone who could reunite him with his vehicle. He later upped it to $250,000 (£159,000).

In 2009 he got the Camaro back, and has been using it since to promote Papa John's pizzas across America.  


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