Now starting their 20th season American Pickers has become a show that many people don’t dare miss each week. It began in January 2010, is produced by A&E and appropriately airs on the History Channel. The stars of the show are Mike Wolfe and his longtime friend, Frank Fritz, along with fellow antique collector and office manager Danielle Colby. They call themselves ‘pickers’ because they travel around America ‘picking’ old stuff out of strangers barns, attics, weed-filled yards, and basements.
They look for the stories behind the things they find, hoping to remind Americans of a bit of the history that has gone down the road. For a bit of fun, here are 10 of the coolest vehicles they have rescued from oblivion.
10 Zundapp RS 7450 Motorcycle with Sidecar
On a special trip to Europe, the fellows came across this German-made WWII motorcycle with a sidecar attached. It wasn’t much to look at when they bought it for $10,500, plus another $1,000 to ship it home to Tennessee. Once they got it home and word got around, they were able to sell it for a cool $18,000 to a motorcycle shop in Georgia whose specialty is restoring vintage motorcycles.
Not a bad profit. After the shop finished with it, it looks shiny and new and definitely ready for a fun trip down the road. We’re sure another antique collector is going to enjoy breezing down country lanes on this, maybe a trusty, goggle-wearing canine riding gunshot.
9 Auburn Phaeton 653 (1935)
Somehow the boys learned about this older couple in South Dakota that owned a 1935 Auburn Phaeton 653. The problem was that it was stuck in a metal barn and the doors no longer opened. They had to take down the barn to get the car out. They hadn’t even seen the car yet, but went to a lot of trouble to obtain it. They bought it for $26,500, spent another $1000 to ship it to a shop an additional $10,000 to have it restored. The car is currently valued at over $45,000. We think it turned out pretty nice.
8 1950s BMW Isetta 300
Once upon a time, there was a man named Renzo Rivolta, who owned a refrigerator company and he decided he wanted to build cars. Enter the Isetta; a little tiny, odd-looking car that opened from the front – no doors on the side – with part of the steering wheel attached. The car was popular in Italy because of its small size and great mileage (50 mpg). Rivolta eventually sold everything to BMW. Now comes Mike Wolfe who meets Al and Deb and buys their little Isetta for basically $16.37 per pound ($13,000). BMW eventually put in a four-stroke, 297 cc engine and by 1962 there were 161,728 on the road.
7 1967 Ford Fairlane 390 GT
Poking around a garage in Illinois Mike and Frank found this 1967 Ford Fairlane. It didn’t appear to be in too bad of shape and still had the original paint job. Another big plus was that it also had nearly all of its original engine parts from the 428 headers. They purchased it for a nice price of $7000. It then required another $1000 to ship it home and needed another $7000 of repairs and restoration. The end result is a handsome car reminiscent of a good-looking guy wearing a tuxedo. In the end, they sold it for a $3000 profit.
6 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad
On an antiquing trip to California, Frank came across this beauty and decided he just had to take it home with him. We certainly can’t blame him. The Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad, a station wagon, would have been awesomely cool in California with all that room in the back for the boards and a bench seat for the babes!
After doing some bickering, Frank purchased the totally tubular car for $21,500 and another $1000 to get it home. They certainly don’t make them like they used to. The shiny chrome, white-wall tires and more room than many modern bathrooms, this was a car to take cruising down Pacific Coast Highway.
5 1939 Indian Motorcycle Aristocrat
This Indian Aristocrat motorcycle was found by the guys in a shop full of old motorcycles and other goodies. Mike Wolfe’s company, Antique Archaeology, purchased this rare motorcycle for $30,000. It was in good shape. At the same time, they found another Indian motorcycle, a 1930’s era Indian Chief, which they purchased for $10,000. After a bit of work on the bikes, they are now believed to carry a value of $58,000 together. Seeing as these two motorcycles are from the late 1930s, they are especially rare because those were the years of the Great Depression, and just prior to WWI. There wasn’t much of a market for bikes with motors.
4 Dodge A100 Hot Rod Truck
This was probably one of the rare moments when Frank was glad to be short (he’s 5’5” to Mike’s 6’). When they found this neon orange Dodge A100 truck, Frank was supremely happy since only he could fit in it for the test drive! The Dodge A100 was created to be an alternative to the Chevy van and the Ford Econoline van. Based on its odd shape we wonder how much it could haul around. But, Frank was happy to hop in and take it for a spin around the block. It had just been sitting in a collector’s garage and the guys snatched it up for $12,500. It is currently valued at $15,000.
3 Ace 1920s Four-Cylinder
On a picking trip to Oregon, Mike and Frank met Zane Leek and his mother Linda. The two were keepers of Zane’s dad’s collection of antique cars and motorcycles. Among the Packards and Studebakers was a selection of extremely rare Ace motorcycles that were over 100 years old and were in fair condition. Amazingly they still had their original paint jobs. They guys made one of their biggest purchases and bought the three Ace motorcycles for a hefty $85,000. The cream of the crop was a four-cylinder Ace that was many decades old and one of the rarest motorcycles in the world.
2 Handmade Wooden Model T
Maybe one of the most unusual finds that the guys made is this Model T made of wood, or at least pretty much everything is covered in wood. While visiting Brent’s property to look at some old concept cars his father had designed they came upon a trailer with the big words “Wooden T” painted on the side. This handmade, wooden Model T was bound to have a very interesting story. Brent’s father built the hot rod Model T and covered everything with wood and then raced it against some of the best. The guys didn’t buy it, but they helped Brent get in touch with some museums where a world of folks can enjoy his dad’s handiwork.
1 Two 1954 Nash-Healeys
Strolling through an old North Carolina AMC dealership Frank and Mike came across a rare find. Two 1954 Nash-Healey two-seater sports cars in pretty good condition. Nash-Healey only produced 90 vehicles in 1954 so these two were exceptionally rare. One vehicle was red and stored outside, while the other was grey and stored in a shed. The red one had a Cadillac engine in it. The grey they managed to purchase for $25,000 and the red one without the original engine they bought for $21,000. Today, one of the classic sports cars is valued at $36,800. That’s a pretty nice profit.