A show like American Pickers is bound to be a success because it combines a few things that Americans love: reality shows, shopping, and history. In fact, the show has been so successful that it has led to a whole family of similar shows, from Canadian Pickers to Picker Sisters and Picked Off. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest picks in American Pickers history.
$12,500 Dodge A100 Hot Rod Truck
Frank really stumbled across an item he enjoyed when he encountered a Dodge A100 hot rod truck. The truck was just sitting in the garage of a collector and Frank was all too happy to help the collector part with it. Frank happily paid $12,500 for the sweet truck.
$5,000 Sideshow Banners
During the opening show of the third season, the duo went to Pennsylvania to visit a creepy old amusement park. “Balloons the Clown” himself led a guided tour for Wolfe and Fritz, who paid $700 for some old sideshow banners. Eventually, the banners were appraised at an amazing $5,000 to $6,000 each! As a result, the pickers gave $5,000 to Neal Fennel, better known as Balloons the Clown.
Original Jell-O wagons are certainly hard to come by. When the American Pickers came across one in amazing condition, they knew they had to make a play for it. They found the piece in Western New York, not far where Jell-O was created. They ended up paying $6,500 for the item, which included original paint and parts.
$8,000 Train Set
During the start of season seven, the pickers found that they had made a big mistake in one of their purchases. Fritz paid $8,000 for a Lionel Train set in mint condition. However, when he went to sell it at an auction, the boys found out that the train set had replaced parts, and it only yielded a $3,400 selling price.
$8,000 Rundown Airstream
Another questionable deal happened when the guys bought a 1948 Airstream travel trailer for $8,000. They ended up trading it for $5,000 along with an antique motorcycle, which seems like a good deal. However, they had also put $3,000 into the travel trailer for repairs, worsening the deal considerably.
$9,500 Elephant’s Head
Wolfe purchased an elephant’s head that had been serviced by a taxidermist during a later episode, which made many viewers scratch their heads. White Stripes singer Jack White loved the item, however, and he eventually bought it. It yielded $6,000 and and other $6,000 in various antiques as part of the deal.
$10,000 Vincent Motor
Fritz spent $10,000 on a Vincent Motorcycle, which is a hard make to find due to a short production life and their British origin. Fritz was pretty proud of the acquisition, but again he eventually parted with it in a pretty noble way. Instead of maximizing his profit, he sold it to the National Motorcycle Museum for $12,000.
$10,500 Motorcycle and Sidecar
In one season, the Iowa boys visited Europe and found some cool items, including a Zundapp RS 750 motorcycle with sidecar included. They paid $10,500 for it, but then had to spend another $1,000 to get it to the U.S. It all paid off when they sold the bike quickly for $18,000, however.
The pickers found out about a 1937 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead motorcycle during one episode. They went to the owner’s barn to check it out and what transpired was quite a tense session of negotiation. Perhaps the difficult process is why Wolfe later rejected a purchase offer for $25,000, despite only spending $20,000 for the bike?
$21,000 Von Dutch XAVW Motorcycle
Among motorcycle collectors, a custom Von Dutch XAVW motorcycle is a pretty big deal. Mike Wolfe referred to it as a “holy grail” find when he came upon it in 2012. The bike was first built in 1966 and is completely unique. It had been abandoned in a barn for years and years, but they cleaned it up and sold it for $21,000.
The men have encountered some nasty barns and storage facilities during their travels. Wolfe had to take a barn apart to get out a 1935 Auburn Phaeton 653 in one episode. It cost $26,500, but after purchasing it and doing $10,000 in repairs, the value was closer to $45,000.
$35,000 Rare Merz Cycle Car
When Frank encountered a 1914 Merz Cycle Car, it would eventually end up being one of the bigger purchases in American Pickers history. The owner said that only two existed and wanted $37,000 for it, noting that it was missing a few parts. However, the pickers are excellent negotiators and eventually got the car for $35,000.
These Boots Are Made For Walking
The duo picked this rare gem from Johnnie Walker in Kansas on season two’s episode of American Pickers “Getting the Boot”. The fiberglass cowboy boot stands tall at around 10 feet high and weighs over 300 pounds. The 40’s era boot was originally a merchandising piece for a western wear store.They actually auctioned off the boot to raise money for St. Jude.
$40,000 Indian Motorcycles
The 1939 Indian 4-cylinder motorcycle that the guys encountered on the show was referred to as “the Aristocrat.” The Aristocrat eventually was purchased for $30,000, while the team also bought a 1930s Indian Chief motorcycle for $10,000, too. The bikes are thought to have a combined value of $58,000.
In one unforgettable episode, Fritz and Wolfe spent a truckload of cash on a pair of 1954 Nash-Healey coupes. The cars were found in an old AMC dealership, where the owner eventually settled for prices of $26,000 and $21,000 for the pair. Later on, it was confirmed that one of the cars had already been sold, with the other getting some needed repairs.
$55,000 Rare Motorcycle
The Royal Pioneer motorcycle brand was synonymous with luxury in the early 20th century. The bikes became very rare, however, when a huge fire put the company out of business, leaving less than 500 models produced and less than five available today. Wolfe was willing to pay $55,000 for the bike and said that he has no plans to sell it.
$62,000 for Five Classic Motorcycle Parts
You can tell that the pickers are big motorcycle fans, and they were more than willing to make the trip to Massachusetts in 2014, where a pair of brothers had a bunch of motorcycle parts and five motorcycles, to boot. The guys paid $62,000 for the lot, which the brothers said would help them expand the brewery that they were working on.
$90,000 (Rarer) Motorcycle
During the first episode of season seventeen, the pickers went to the Pacific Northwest and encountered an Ace four-cylinder motorcycle. The item was perhaps the most impressive in the show’s history at that point, and the guys decided to shell out an incredible $90,000 for it.
Bonus: Priceless Handmade Model T
A handmade Model T was featured in one episode. The car was made from wood but actually able to be driven on the road. In the episode, the pickers visited Brent, who built the vehicle over a seven-year period. Ultimately, it was one of the rare items that the pickers didn’t end up buying. Instead, they told Brent they’d help him place it in a museum.
During the episode called the $90,000 Question, a lot was uncovered. The pair needed to raise the roof money-wise in order to seal the deal. Throughout the episode, Mike fils the audience in on the Ace Motor Corporation, which first went into production in 1919, based out of Philadelphia. In a tragic accident, the upstart bike company’s main engineer and owner William Henderson died while test-riding one of the firm’s bikes, the Ace Sporting Solo, in 1922 when he was hit by a motor vehicle.
1956 Chevrolet Bel Air
This California car was Frank’s find. He fell in love with the ’50s icon at first sight, despite what he called its “peanut motor.” Purchased for $21,500 and shipped for $1,000, Frank valued the customized beauty at $26,500.
The Batmobile was the first car that the boys didn’t actually go home with. Yet, they still got to meet the King of Kustomizers and sit in Batman’s famous ride. Better yet, they eventually made a deal to acquire another Barris creation, a coffin car that he and his son built in the spirit of the “Dragula” car from the old Munsters TV show. Frank paid $5,000 for it and estimated its value at $10,000. That’s a double win.
In another memorable transaction, Fritz and Wolfe sold an antique to Dan Auerbach, one half of the Ohio blues rock duo the Black Keys. The item in question was a 1958 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 guitar. They bought the guitar and a pair of amps for $9,500 and sold the guitar and an amp to Auerback for $10,000, so it was a memorable flip, but not an extremely profitable one.
In one memorable episode, Fritz actually paid for an item that he already owned. The item was a polarimeter that a South Carolina man saw on the show and asked Fritz about purchasing. He sent $300 to Fritz and never got the item. The whole thing became a fiasco, with a lawsuit that Fritz didn’t show up in court for. He eventually was told to pay the customer $1,000.
Is It All A Farce
There has been hearsay that the show is a farce and not actually based on two men traveling America for rare finds. But is this rumor true? There are many fans hitting out that it is just like any other staged reality show.