American Pickers’ top 11 automotive picks: icons, rockets, and Italian race cars

To be Frank (and Mike), it has to be both stressful and fun negotiating deals on American Pickers, especially when a car is involved. But since they’re spending their money, not ours, it’s all fun on this side of the TV screen.

So whenever Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz roll out one of their automotive-related “Best of” shows, we’re glued to the History Channel. Much to our delight, American Pickers’ recent “Top Cars” episode gave us a baker’s dozen of sorts, naming the show’s top 11 car picks. Mike and Frank didn’t land all of the sweet rides that were featured, but their winning percentage was solid. Let’s look at their picks:

  1. 1960 Cadillac Fleetwood — Found in New Jersey, the fully optioned Fleetwood was purchased for $9,500 and shipped for another $500. Considering the Caddy is valued at more than $14,000, the Iowa duo definitely scored.
  2. 1967 Ford Fairlane 390 GT — Mike found another winner in an Illinois garage. The high-performance four-speed Fairlane wore original paint and carried a mostly original engine (it had 428 headers, adding about 25 horsepower). The Fairlane was purchased for $7,000 and required an additional $4,000 in repairs and shipping, and the pair still came out $3,000 ahead.
  3. 1933 Ford Coupe — It’s difficult to say who got the better end of this deal since Mike bought the ’33 Ford in California with the intention of keeping it for himself. The rusty, five-window coupe featured a lowered front end, an early flathead engine, and ’34 grille. Price tag: $16,000.
  4. George Barris’ Batmobile — The Batmobile was the first car on this list that the boys didn’t go home with. Still, they 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 win-win.
  5. Mickey Rooney’s movie cycle car — Mike and Frank visited the Pioneer Auto Museum in South Dakota and left with a motorcycle car that Mickey Rooney drove in the 1949 movie The Big Wheel. The custom cycle car, powered by an I-4 series Indian engine, cost Mike $13,000. He didn’t estimate its potential value nor hesitate to take it for a spin right then and there.
  6. 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air — This California car was all Frank. He immediately fell in love with the ’50s icon, despite what he called its “peanut motor.” Purchased for $21,500 and shipped for $1,000, Frank valued the custom beauty at $26,500. We hope he resisted the urge to flip it.
  7. 1950s BMW Isetta 300 — Mike paid Isetta owners Al and Deb $13,000 for their little BMW, which equates to about $16.37 per pound. Since Mike estimated the microcar’s value at $18,000, we’re glad he took it for a joy drive since he probably didn’t own it for long.
  8. Ford Bronco U-13 Roadster — It doesn’t get much better than the well-maintained, all-original early Bronco that the Pickers found in southern Indiana. Complete with soft top and doors, and only 29,000 miles on the clock, the Bronco cost Mike $30,000 plus $1,000 shipping. Valued at $36,000, it was well worth it.
  9. Custom Rocket car — Mike and Frank admired an amazing artist-built rocket car in California, but priced at $50,000 it was well out of their price range. The duo didn’t go home empty handed, however. They struck a deal for a hand-built wooden car that looked like a pedal car but wasn’t. On the bright side, it only cost $250, and it fit in the van.
  10. 1937 Cord Convertible — The all-original Cord came with an onboard microphone and loud speakers because it was used to disseminate information to the public in New York during World War II. Super cool, yes, but when the owner threw out a $150,000 price tag, the boys’ answer didn’t require an amplifier: Thanks, but no thanks.
  11. 1947 Cisitalia Nuvolari Spyder — A stunning vehicle and an even more stunning outcome. Dr. Fred Simeone, from the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, asked Mike and Frank to travel to Italy and negotiate a deal for a Cisitalia Nuvolari Spyder that competed in the 1947 Mille Miglia. But after the two travelled 5,000 miles to check it out and make an offer, the Cisitalia’s owner decided not to sell the car. Mike called it the “worst possible scenario.” Not wanting to leave Italy empty handed, the boys bought a Zundapp RS 750 motorcycle with sidecar for $10,500, then quickly found a U.S. buyer for $18,000. All’s well that ends well.
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