In 1983, John Schnatter, founder of Papa John's Pizza, sold his prized 1971 Camaro to start his Pizza business and save his father's tavern.

He vowed that he would one day get the car back and, in recent years, Schnatter resumed efforts to find his beloved Chevy.

Now, 26 years later, he has finally found and repurchased the Chevrolet Camaro Z28.

The famous pizza entrepreneur had to sell the gold and black Chevrolet Camaro when he returned from college, aged 22, to his home in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

The money went towards $1,600 worth of used restaurant equipment. Schnatter began delivering pizzas out of the former broom closet in his father's bar and the rest is history.

According to a Papa John's statement, Schnatter originally offered a $25,000 "finder's fee" to anyone who could locate his Camaro - but his proved unsuccessful.

Schnatter then put his entrepreneurial mind into the search. He and Papa John's started a summer nationwide tour to promote the car search effort, upping his reward to $250,000.

The car was particularly hard to find due to confusion over its date of manufacture. Though easily mistaken for a 1972 model, the car was technically 1971-and-a-half and titled as 1971.

The Camaro eventually cropped-up in Kentucky, owned by Jeff Robinson from nearby Flatwoods, Kentucky.

Once the car's title and VIN number were authenticated, Robinson was paid $250,000. The car had been modified with larger back tyres, and the black back panel had been repainted gold.

Robinson had owned the car since 2004 and used it for racing, said the Papa John's statement.

"What a complete shock to know that the car in my garage was partly to thank for starting a company like Papa John's," said Robinson in a statement issued through the company.

"When I realised this was Papa John's Camaro, I immediately wanted to get him his car back."

"The Camaro represents what I gave up to start Papa John's," said John Schnatter.

"Words cannot capture the emotions I am feeling in getting back that part of my history.

"I didn't have much back then, but for my business dreams to come true, I had to part with the one true asset I had to my name, and even then, there were no promises of success.

"I never gave up hope that someday I would get that car back."

Schnatter and the Camaro were reunited in August, according to local newspaper the Raleigh Telegram.

In celebration of its founder finding his beloved car, Papa John's offered a free pizza to any Camaro owners who drove up to their restaurants in their cars for one day on August 26.

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