STRANGE BUT TRUE: Papa John Pays Big Bucks for Long-Lost Camaro - BodyShop Business

STRANGE BUT TRUE: Papa John Pays Big Bucks for Long-Lost Camaro

The value of a ’71 Camaro sold for $2,800 in 1983 jumped to a quarter million dollars just a quarter century later. Sometimes, it’s all in the buyer.

Papa John’s pizza chain founder John Schnatter sold his beloved gold-and-black Camaro Z28 in 1983 to help save his dad’s Indiana tavern and start what ended up being a global pizza chain, and he used his clout to seek out and buy back the car in August, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Schnatter so loved the long-lost Camaro that he commissioned a replica of it, which he drove on a cross-country promotional tour this summer. Papa John’s set up a Web site offering $250,000 for the return of the original Camaro, and Schnatter mentioned his quest at promotional appearances with the replica Camaro and in a TV interview last month.

As it turns out, the car had changed hands twice since Schnatter sold it, and lucky for the pizza magnate, the first buyers of the car saw his TV interview and worked to track down the Camaro’s current owner, who returned the car to Schnatter.

“When I first saw it, I still wanted to look it over to make sure it was the car even though I knew it,” Schnatter told the AP. “That kind of hit me emotionally. I was kind of numb.”

The Camaro’s last owner, who bought the car in 2004 for $4,000, received the $250,000 reward, while the person who bought it from Schnatter so many years ago received a $25,000 reward for helping to track it down.

To celebrate the reunion, Papa John’s gave away free pizzas to Camaro owners on Aug. 26.

Visit to see photos of the Camaro.

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