A recent History Channel episode of “American Pickers” was titled “Beetle in a Haystack” as Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe, the professional hunters travel across the earth picking through treasures covered with dust. As the episode begins, the guys are driving in Illinois when Mike sees a photo someone sent him of a split-window Volkswagen Beetle in Pennsylvania. He calls his brother Robbie to see if he can go there and check it out. Robbie will try to clear his calendar and will call him back. Meanwhile, they get a call from Danielle with a lead from a 13-year-old boy named Kyle, who is helping his aunts clean out a farm they just inherited. They have no idea what they have but know it is stuff dating back to the Civil War. When Frank asked him if anything was worth anything; Kyle told him it was his job to find out! Kyle introduced his aunts Linda and Karen.
The house and barn were loaded with items in total disarray. Bob passed away in 2000, but the women have not done anything with his collections since. Now it is time to sort it out and sell it. Mike liked the fact that the sisters had no attachment to the items in the collections. A box of Big Little Books went for $65 and Frank found crow decoys.
Robbie high-tailed it from Iowa to Pennsylvania to investigate the Beetle. He met with Tracy Dixon, who showed him the car that was up in the loft with an exterior that looked gnarly. Their uncle Joe told them it was put up there with a trolley system. The Split Window in the real was produced from 1939 to 1953. In 1954, the Split Window was history. The car had semaphores, an early signal to alert other vehicles that they were turning. The car semaphore was inspired by the Royal Bavarian Railway signal arm, used first in the 1890s. The only difference since the car arm is halved down its length to fit flush with the vehicle’s exterior. The car was covered with about fifty years of dirt, but Robbie was very impressed, but the motor was missing. It was removed before hoisting it on the loft and was in another building on the property.
Robbie checked out the motor and snapped pictures of the car and of the serial number. He sent it to his friend who works on Volkswagens for them to verify if they matched. Robbie got a message that the car was built in July of 1952, and the motor built August of 1952, and they most certainly matched. Tracy wants $10,000 for the Beetle, so Robbie stepped out to call Mike. After a bit of negotiating, Robbie got the car for $9,500, but if it collapsed while getting it down; Robbie would suffer the consequences.
Back at the barn, the guys got lots of stuff they liked and the women were happy to be selling it. They got swords from the Civil War, diplomas from Embalming School for the 1800s and even gave them an education about some of the items in the collections.
They reinforced the loft floor from below, and Tracy’s friend had a forklift that offered to bring down the car. If Robbie did not have a heart attack watching the operation, he never will. When it was finally down and in the daylight, he was thrilled that it was still in one piece. They rolled it into the trailer, and Robbie was on his way. Tracy would like to see the car when it is restored and riding down the highway.
Back in Illinois, they received a call from Richard about the swords and the crow decoys. The swords were from the Civil War; only one saw action, but the women wanted to keep them. The crow decoys were bought by Frank for $150, and all of them were happy. The guys put a nice dent in the collections, and Robbie sent a photo of the VW.
Back in Tennessee, the guys headed to see Jeff Lane where he owns Lane Motor Museum. They sent him the Lloyd van they found at the Pioneer Auto Museum in South Dakota in the episode titled “If You Talk Nice to Me.” Jeff bought the Lloyd Van for $2,800 on this episode of “American Pickers.”