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American Pickers’ Biggest Buys Over The Years



If you’re a collector in America, you’ve probably heard of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. The “American Pickers” have been the stars of the History and A&E series for over 20 seasons, and they specialize in finding and buying rare and vintage items that people are sitting on.
Whether they decide to resell them in their shops or keep the items for their own collections, Mike and Frank are willing to dig through anything in hopes of finding invaluable pieces that have been packed away. Read along to see the most expensive items the Pickers ever found.

Profits Galore

In a garage in Illinois, they uncovered a 1967 Ford Fairlane 390 GT that almost had its original engine. After spending a total of $11,000 on it, they still made a profit of $3,000 after flipping it.

The Little Train That Didn’t

Fritz doesn’t seem to have the best of luck, because he lost out big on this one. When he thought he came across an original, un-retouched Lionel Train set he obviously spent a cool $8,000 on it. They only received $3,400 for it at auction because their assistant apparently forgot to set a reserve for it.

Sideshow Steal

In an epic start to one of their seasons, Wolfe and Fritz came across a collection of worn-out sideshow banners. They were exploring an abandoned amusement park in Easton, Pennsylvania when their tour guide, “Balloons the Clown” (aka Neal Fehnel) led them to the collection. After paying $700 for all of them, they later discovered each one to be worth $5,000-$6,000. As a gesture of their good will, they gifted Fehnel $5,000 for the very productive tour.

Guitar Gold

They did, however, make a small profit on a 1958 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 guitar which they acquired for $9,500, along with two amps. They sold it to the guitarist and vocalist for the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach for just $10,000.

Airstream Woes

Spending $8,000 on a 1948 airstream didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time, but when they chipped in an extra $3,000 just to get it up and running again they weren’t as thrilled with the purchase. In the end, the pair traded it for $5,000 and an antique Indian motorcycle, so it wasn’t so much of a loss.

Reverse the Curse

On an episode titled, “Reverse the Curse,” Wolfe and Fritz went to New Jersey where they found a working 1960 Cadillac Fleetwood and spent a total of $10,000 on it, then had it appraised at $14,500.

European Adventure

At one point, the American Pickers thought they would try their luck in Europe and came across a gem. This Zundapp RS 750 motorcycle with a sidecar cost them $10,500 plus $1,000 to ship back home, but it was totally worth it when they sold it for $18,000.

Microcar Must Have

When Wolfe and Fritz came across a 1950s BMW Isetta 300, they just couldn’t part ways without it. They spent $13,000 on the microcar only to discover it’s valued at $18,000.

Motorcycle Museum

The British manufacturing company, Vincent Motorcycle, was only in production from the late 1920s to mid-1950s, making their products extremely rare and valuable. Fritz ended up purchasing one for $10,000 and made a nice profit of $2,000 when he sold it to the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa for a total of $12,000.

Still Waiting

Found in an old AMC dealership, two 1954 Nash-Healey coupes were sold to the pickers for the low prices of $21,000 and $26,000. One car has since been sold, but the other is still undergoing some repairs. Here’s hoping they can make a profit on them.

Mickey Rooney

When Wolfe and Fritz visited the Pioneer Auto Museum in South Dakota, they left with the motorcycle car that was driven by Mickey Rooney in the 1949 movie The Big Wheel. It cost them a pretty $13,000, but was well worth the money to them.

Making A Pretty Penny

Well worth the buy, this Ford Bronco U-13 Roadster was found in southern Indiana and bought for $31,000. Seeing how it’s worth $36,000, we’re pretty sure they’re happy about that purchase.

Original Glory

When Wolfe came across a dilapidated 1935 Auburn Phaeton 653, he had every confidence that he could restore it to its original glory. After spending $26,500 on just the car and another $10,000 on all sorts of repairs, he finally brought its face value up to an impressive $45,000.

Taxidermy Trouble

In one of the strangest moments on the show, the pickers traded a taxidermy elephant head for a photo booth and jukebox that belonged to Jack White. Don’t ask us why, but White was so desperate for the head that he was willing to make an even trade plus $1,000 for shipping.

Brewery Brothers

The Pickers were thrilled when they came across a motorcycle collection in Springfield, Massachusetts. It belonged to two brothers who owned a brewery and simply didn’t have the time to fix them up. Fritz and Wolfe spent a combined $62,000 on the bikes, giving the two brothers a nice chunk of money to invest in their brewery.

Double Trouble

The 1939 Indian 4-cylinder motorcycle’s nickname of the “Aristocrat” is well-suited to it. The Pickers spent an impressive $30,000 on it in addition to purchasing a 1930s Indian Chief motorcycle for $10,000. After an additional $4,500 for repairs to the Indian Chief, their combined value came to $58,000.

Is It Worth It?

After receiving a tip about a rare antique automobile collection, the Pickers went in search of it and found an extremely rare Ace four-cylinder motorcycle. They agreed to the whopping price of $90,000 dollars. Let’s hope they don’t lose money on that purchase!

Custom Treasure

This was one of the duo’s once-in-a-lifetime finds. This 1966 custom Von Dutch XAVW motorcycle was made primarily from Harley Davidson and Volkswagen parts making it an incredibly rare find. Found in the garage of a Mr. Randy Smith, he parted with it for $21,000 to an overjoyed Wolfe and Fritz.

The Original Gang

Given the fact that Americans have some of the worst hoarding habits, it’s no surprise that a show like American Pickers is so popular. Watching people dig through piles of trash only to find a priceless item resembles something of a treasure hunt…and who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? Take a look at some of these rare, unique and expensive buys seen on American Pickers.

Cycle Car

Although this buy wasn’t quite as complicated or impressive as the Auburn Phaeton, this little 1914 Henderson cycle car saw them a $2,500 profit when they bought it for $12,000 and sold it for $14,500.

Personal Prize

In what seemed like more of a personal purchase, Wolfe acquired a 1937 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead motorcycle for a whopping $20,000 and turned down an offer from someone who wanted to buy it for $25,000.

A Royal Acquisition

Royal Pioneer was an elite motorcycle company from the early 1900s that specialized in luxury bikes. Unfortunately, a fire bankrupted the company a year after they started production, so only 500 bikes were made and there are only five known bikes currently in existence. We’re not surprised then that Wolfe paid $55,000 for this bike and added it to his personal collection.

Peanut Motor

Despite referring to it as having a “peanut motor” Fritz fell head over heels for this 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. The total cost of $22,500 was worth every penny to him. Once it was valued at $26,500 we’re sure he was tempted to keep it for his own collection.

Tax Evasion

According to Radar Online, Picker Danielle Colby was sent an $11,973.42 bill by the IRS when she failed to pay retail taxes for some items she flipped a few years prior. They also placed several liens on her business, “4 Miles 2 Memphis.”

Polarimeter Problem

Fritz found himself in some hot water when he was ordered by a judge to pay $1,000 for a polarimeter he already owned. It turns out he was contacted by a man called Jerry Bruce to purchase it for $300. Fritz took the money, but never sent the polarimeter causing Bruce to file a $7,500 suit against him. When Fritz never showed up to court, the judge ruled a $1,000 verdict and Bruce left with no polarimeter but a nice bit of cash.

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