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For sale on AutoTrader: Papa John's Dodge Viper

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author photo by J. Mark Sternberg August 2011

"So I was in the Viper when..." Not many people have stories that start this way. Brand new, a super car is usually only attainable for celebrities or ultra successful businessmen. Sometimes both.

For sale right now on AutoTrader.com is a 1993 Dodge Viper that once belonged to John Schnatter, or as he is known to most of us: Papa John.

Schnatter may be best known for his 'better ingredient' pies, but he is also a certifiable car nut. In 1984, he famously funded the pizza empire by selling his beloved 1971 Camaro Z28. Today, Papa John's is one of the largest pizza companies in the world with over 2,600 restaurants in the U.S. alone.

When the company first went public in 1993, Schnatter decided to celebrate by buying a brand new Viper RT/10, said the car's current owner, Bill Meyers. But like the Camaro before it, Schnatter eventually gave the car up for a better cause.

In the late 90s Pizza Hut filed a lawsuit against Papa John's over the "Better ingredients. Better Pizza" slogan the company adopted.

The case lasted for several years and eventually went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with Papa John's. According to Meyers, taking on the world's largest pizza empire in court became a bit of a financial burden for Schnatter. When his wife's birthday rolled around, Schnatter decided to sell his Viper in order to buy her something special.

The early Viper was an interesting breed of car. The doors have no outside door handles, or even windows for that matter. There is no airbag, no satellite navigation and no trunk space to speak of. Pretty much everything has been left out because it would be a distraction from what the car is really all about: an 8-liter V10 monster that lives under the hood.

Meyers recalled a time when the car's raw power was a little too much to handle. His daughter was competing in a local beauty pageant and was invited to take part in a parade. Sitting on the roll hoop behind the two seats, she was being chauffeured through the parade by Meyer's teenage son.

At one point, the son got a little happy with the gas pedal and the 400 horsepower Viper nearly bucked the young woman onto the pavement. Nobody was injured, but the sister's dress was torn in all the commotion.

Luckily, some quick thinking moms banded together and repaired the dress before the parade was even held up but the son wasn't so quickly rescued from his mistake. "She'll never let that one down." Meyers said.

The ad asks for $32,000 for the Viper, which is average in price when compared with the estimated KBB value.

Supercars mean a lot to people. It's easy to get caught up in massive price tags or 0-60 times and forget about what really makes these cars so great. When they're taken out of the garage, even only a few times each year maybe, they rack up more memories and great stories than a gas-sipping commuter car could in hundreds of thousands of miles.

This Viper has only logged 5,800 miles, and in that time it has been the star of some great memories. Meyers is selling the car so he can move to Hawaii, and now the question is: Who will be next to log some time with this unique Dodge dream machine.

See the listing here.  Check out the archived copy after it sells.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
For sale on AutoTrader: Papa John's Dodge Viper - Autotrader