American Pickers fans are enamored with the recurring expert and guest host, Jersey Jon.
The vintage motorcycle expert first appeared in the show during season 7, and he made a handful of cameos throughout the years. But when he filled in for former host Frank Fritz in 2021, he really made an impression.
The reason fans like Jersey Jon—whose real name is Jon Szalay—so much is because the guy just overflows with a genuine passion for his career. And who doesn’t love watching that kind of positivity?
So who is Jon? He is a general antique specialist who can give the backstory on some of the most obscure pieces. But he’s most trained in early 1900s motorbikes. And he didn’t learn his craft by taking hours’ worth of classes at some university somewhere. Instead, Jon took a more hands-on approach.
Jersey John began working as a professional motorcycle restorer when he was just 12 years old. And as a teenager, he branched off to become a professional woodworker.
When he was 17, Jon purchased an old bank that he converted into a workshop. And somewhere along the way, he actually met Mike Wolfe. But at the time, American Pickers wasn’t even a thought in Wolfe’s mind.
And now, the two are great friends.
“[Wolfe’s] a great friend,” Jon told the Antique Motorcycle Foundation. “When he is working on the East Coast, he sleeps on my couch. And when I go out west for the Davenport meet, he and I would go picking up and down the Mississippi River.”
The ‘American Pickers’ Guest Star Became a Vintage Motorbike Specialist Over 40 Years Ago
Sometime during the 1980s, Jersy Jon found his passion for antique motorcycles and eventually started focusing his efforts on collecting and restoring them. Today, he’s most interested in 19 and 20th-century engines.
One bike that the American Pickers guest host restored even went on exhibit at the Guggenheim. And after that, he was invited to participate in the pre-1916 Cannonball Motorcycle Rally with a 1911 Harley-Davidson.
After that accomplishment, Jon started building replica antique carburetors on the side. And he’s still running a shop out of that same old bank that he bought when he was a teenager.
His business is called First National Antiques Restoration, and it is located in New Jersey. At the shop, Jon will restore just about every type of antique there is.
According to the website, Jersey Jon has three restoration categories—furniture, metal, and the foundry and oddball. If you have an heirloom that you’d like to give the Jersey Jon, you can call or email his shop.
And for those of you who want more Jersey Jon in your life, don’t fret. It looks like he’s going to have a long-lasting presence on American Pickers.