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The Bike Engine That Cost American Pickers A Whopping $17,500

When you watch even just a few episodes of "American Pickers," one thing becomes readily apparent: Mike Wolfe is a motorcycle guy through and through. He loves checking out old, vintage bikes, and if possible, he'll take them for a test drive near wherever they're picking. 

Some of the most valuable items the guys have gotten over the years have been bikes and bike parts. Wolfe even once threw down $5,000 to get his hands on a cutaway Indian motorcycle display motor. It wasn't even an operational part you could put inside a bike; it only existed to help shops back in the day sell motorcycles. A lot of people may have seen a cut-up motor and not given it a second glance. But Wolfe has a rough idea of the value these items hold and knows when to make an offer.

And he's not afraid to go big when the opportunity calls. In Season 18's "The Jersey Jaguar," Wolfe spends $17,500 on a used motorcycle engine. You can find some used bikes that go for that much, but he spent it on just an engine. That's some dedication.

Mike Wolfe drops serious dough on a rare bike engine

The 1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead bike is widely considered to be one of the most important products made in the medium. You don't usually see too many around these days, so when Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz stumble upon an engine, they know they have something special in their midst. Wolfe doesn't mince words with the seller and initially offers $15,000 for the engine, but the seller wants a little more. 

As Wolfe points out, the problem is that the engine requires repairs to be functional. That's going to cost him several thousand more dollars, so for the purchase to make sense, he needs to save cash somewhere else. Wolfe goes as high as $17,500 for the engine, and that's where the two guys shake on it. 

Ultimately, the seller's just happy to get the motor back on the road. Wolfe is someone with the connections to get the parts he needs to put the engine back into a bike and restore a vintage 1936 Knucklehead motorcycle. From there, he can sell it for quite a pretty penny or keep it for himself to drive across the country on. But he's not going anywhere without the right motor. It just goes to show what kind of treasures you can find when you have the right eye for them.