‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Spent Huge Money on Nostalgic Coca-Cola Machine From ’50s

by Michael Freeman

Since its 2010 debut, American Pickers hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz have seen a plethora of items, some much more expensive than others. In one notable case, Wolfe dropped a good chunk of change on a Coca-Cola machine from the 50s.

In season 18 of the show, Wolfe and Fritz visited Francis Turner in Moundsville, West Virginia. The Exponent Telegram reports Turner ran a storied Marx toys museum for 16 years. Hoping to sell off some of the pieces there for extra cash, the American Pickers duo naturally took notice and came by.

After examining what Turner had to offer, Wolfe saw a Coca-Cola machine from the 50s. Wolfe mentioned it wasn’t the best-looking model ever, but would still be an easy sell. Its connection to the Coca-Cola brand and it being so retro all but ensured he could get a good sale out of it. The two parties agreed on a $2,000 deal and Mike walked away with his own soda dispenser.

Turner spoke to The Exponent Telegram about the experience, saying “Filming is just like it is on TV — there’s no rehearsal, it all happens right then. Nothing is planned out ahead of time. It was a really good experience.”

He also spoke about Mike’s integrity. He was going to sell the Coca-Cola machine originally for $1,200, but Wolfe offered him a cool $2,000. “I thought for a minute and said ‘yeah.’ I’d kind of made up my mind beforehand I was going to ask for $1,200. That kind of told me something (about their character).”

Although the museum is now closed, Turner donated some of his items to be a part of the community display. Saying they should “stay in Marshall County,” they help illustrate its history.

Mike Wolfe Discusses Career Philosophy and Adapting with Success

Though American Pickers is still wildly popular now, did you know Mike Wolfe pitched the idea for five years to networks? Constantly fine-tuning the concept, Wolfe explained how his ideas adapt and how the show came to be.

My ideas are always organic,” he said back in 2013, “meaning they grow with the situation — just like all of us do. But I’m not fixated on my idea to the point where it has to be there.” Continuing, he said when faced with an obstacle, he tries a different approach. “I would take my alternative energy and think from a different angle.”

In the case of American Pickers, Wolfe started with a camera on his car’s dashboard as he drove around. Posting picking videos to his website, they never really picked up steam. He then changed his approach, realizing the picks themselves wouldn’t attract people, but the stories. After making the footage more about the people he met and the items’ histories, The History Channel bought the show.