Detroit Police confirmed Monday that a 1971 Chevrolet Camaro belonging to John Schnatter of the Papa John’s pizza empire has been found. The iconic car was reported stolen during this year’s annual Dream Cruise festivities on Sunday.
The car was inside a trailer attached to a truck that was parked in the city at midnight Saturday. At 7:30 a.m. Sunday, the truck, trailer and classic car were reported missing, according to police. The vehicle was found on city’s west side early Monday abandoned between two boarded-up, derelict homes.
The 1971 Camaro Z28 owned by the Louisville, Kentucky-based company was displayed for the Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday in suburban Detroit, a Papa John’s spokesman said. Papa John’s founder John Schnatter sold the gold-and-black car years ago to help his father’s tavern in Indiana; that led to the start of what would become Papa John’s. Schnatter longed to have the car back and created a website to aid in the search, held promotional appearances and eventually offered $250,000 to whoever found it. His efforts paid off as he was reunited with the car and regained ownership in 2009.
Police said media attention and actions from citizens, led to the swift recovery. According to police the discovery of the car was made by lawn maintenance man Ernest Webster.
“I saw the car parked between those two houses,” 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.”
Authorities in the Detroit are still searching for two other classic Dream Cruise cars reported stolen. The first car, a red 1966 Chevrolet Corvette, was reported stolen Saturday afternoon. The convertible was taken from the Park Street parking structure between 12:30 and 2 p.m. Police confirmed Monday they were still looking for the vehicle. In addition a black 1966 Chevelle 300 Deluxe was sitting on a trailer overnight in the parking lot of a hotel. A 2007 Chevy Silverado that had been pulling the trailer and the Chevelle was also taken but was recovered on Sunday by Detroit police. The classic car remains missing.
The 21st annual Woodward Dream Cruise was Saturday along a 16-mile stretch through nine host communities in the Detroit area: Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac and Royal Oak. The one-day automotive event is billed as the nation’s largest, drawing about 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year, organizers say.