‘American Pickers’: One Collector Has an Impressive History of Collecting

by Amy Myers

When we first met Jon Szalay on American Pickers, he was one of the many collectors that the hosts met. But now, he’s better known as “Jersey Jon,” a.k.a. the most dedicated motorcycle collector on the East Coast. Szalay first appeared on American Pickers Season 7 Episode 6, “Sturgis or Bust.”

During the episode, we began to understand just how vast his knowledge was of collectibles. Since our introduction to Szalay, he has reappeared for another 16 installments of the series. Each time he astounded both the experts on the show as well as watchers at home. His expertise mostly comprises 1900s motorcycles, which is perfect for someone like Mike Wolfe who lives and breathes anything antique and on wheels. Needless to say, he quickly became a fan- and host-favorite guest.

The American Pickers collector has a remarkable history with antiques. His interest began when he was just 12 years old. At the time, he was already working as a professional craftsman and furniture restorer, according to Antique Motorcycle Foundation. Growing up in South Jersey, Szalay found his calling in woodwork. By the time he was 17, he had saved up enough money to formally start his own business. In the 80s, he decided to shift his vision to collecting and restoring antique motorcycles, particularly focusing on repairing engines from the late 19th century and early 20th century motorbikes.

In fact, at one point, one of Szalay’s restorations made it to a Guggenheim exhibition, leading him to his new talent: creating replica carburetors. To top it all off, the American Pickers even participated in the pre-1916 Cannonball Motorcycle Rally.

‘American Pickers’ Explore Vintage Cadillacs

Of course, Jersey Jon is far from the only vintage vehicle collector in the country. The American Pickers duo has visited plenty of fellow car and bike fanatics that understand just how special each model is to Americana.

Recently, Mike Wolfe and his brother Robbie took their operation to a California ranch that housed a collection of dusty and rusty Cadillacs. And, as we know, the moment the Wolfe brothers catch wind of some one-of-a-kind vehicles that need a little love, there’s no stopping them from bringing the cars home.

Ahead of last week’s episode, American Pickers posted a photo preview of the Wolfe brothers’ antics. In the photo, Mike leaned on the hood of a car that looked to be in rough shape. He smiled at his next project with the current owner of the vehicle nearby.

“On tonight’s NEW @americanpickers Robbie and I explore a California ranch packed with vintage Cadillacs that have been parked long enough for a forest to grow up around them. Can’t wait to show you around tonight at 9/8c on @history,” the show wrote on Twitter.