'American Pickers' Trades Its Mercedes for a Ford Transit

Transit_AmericanPickers II

The History Channel's ultimate hidden treasure show, "American Pickers," has traded in its full-size Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van for a new 2015 Ford Transit.

"Pickers" features collectors Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel around the country hunting for buried treasure in backyards, backrooms, sheds and old garages. Moving from rustic location to rustic location, the pair search for collectible pieces of art and Americana that they can repurpose or resell.

The dynamic duo has teamed up with Ford in the form of a high-roof Transit with a 3.2-liter inline-five-cylinder Power Stroke engine; the van has almost 500 cubic feet of cargo capacity. To celebrate the start of the show's new season, they've hidden 10 scale models of the Ford Transit in 10 antique shops around the country (which includes Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, and San Francisco). If you find one of them, you'll get to use a real, full-scale Transit for two weeks doing anything you want.

The promotion ends July 1. Click here for all the details. To read the full press release, click here.

Manufacturer image



Very neat to see Ford here. I never did like watching the Mercedes on a U.S. television show that featured classic American history. Even if it had said Dodge Sprinter, we all know it's a badge job. Much like Chevrolet's Nissan. Or Nissan's Chevrolet. Whatever it is. If little, the Ford is truly a Ford. Even globally. That alone says much.

Good choice! I've this van a NAIAS last year. It's huge. I had a feeling you could park E150 inside of it.

*I've seen*

I watch this show all the time, but I would like to see the show do a seqment of how they do this show, Do they travel by driving or fly? Any support vehicles and people involved? Do they really make cold calls, or does a support team go in first and set up the arrival of Mike and Frank, etc? Glad to see the arrival of the new Ford.

I've seen two shows where their MB Sprinter crapped out due to engine problems.Good move on getting the new Ford van.They put a ton of miles on every year.I wonder why GM is ignoring their vans?

Here are some links for vans that are based on the Renault Master and used by GM Vauxhall and Opel.

The use a MR Series diesel, which I think is the same 2.5 litre diesel engine used in our small diesel engine Navara.

If Chev is using the Nissan NV200, why not use the Nissan NV400 from Europe?




After driving that MBZ Sprinter for many years, I wonder if Frank and Mike had a say in the engine choice in their new Transit??

Can't say I've ever watched that show. Must be pretty boring if the most exciting topic to discuss is what van they are driving.

I'm sure they will go through a lot of windshields. That thing is huge and pretty upright.

@Gregory J
Then you have a good idea on how big the Cab Chassis variants are as a Pickup

Mercedes is not that prominent in Australia. You see more light trucks doing the same job, that the Sprinter would do in the US

Can these Vans get any uglier? I feel like Goldilocks. This Van could haul all my filters and tools for HVAC, however it's too tall for down town LA building under ground parking. :((

"The would even make a cheap van to tour around in. All you need is a matress, and some space for a 12v fridge and some supplies." - Big Al from Oz

I know he was thinking about the Chevy. But this van might work better for BAFO's sole proprietorship male escort service.

Anyone know what size mattress can fit on the floor?

I have noticed that they never had a van partition safety cage behind the drivers and passenger seats, they had a blanket instead.
I wonder what would happen if they had the van loaded up and hit the brakes suddenly in an emergency stop and all that stuff in the back would fly forward and injure the driver and passenger.
Of course they took the Ford cause Ford gave the van to them or paid them to use it cause they promote the van on TV, but they will never talk about how good or bad that van is on the TV show.
Those vans have bad blind spots when backing up out of a parking lot space where you have to totally rely on the outside mirrors similar to a semi truck driver and I believe its a serious safety issue not having heated mirrors on them.

Their Sprinter was a 1st gen model. And definitely well worn.
@ToxicSludge- can you share how many miles the old girl had on her when that happened? Part of the challenge with the Sprinter is getting someone qualified to work on them- the volume just isn't like on an Econoline, Express, or even Ram Van.
@Big Al- Something like that may happen, but GM is supposed to be extending the life of the GMT610 van with an overhaul. Seems to me, an optimal development would be a FWD chassis like the RAM/Fiat that could also ride on the HD pickup frame, for HD variants.
@Ed- Interesting- both are 5cyl engines, which have never been fully embraced in the US. Should have a good bit more snort though.

I'll watch once in a while, I'm not really into antiquing but I have to say they find some pretty cools stuff.

WHOOPPPTEEEE FRICKIN DO!!!!!! Looks like the Pickers picked themselves a ROYAL UGLY PILE OF JUNK. I would not be CAUGHT DEAD driving that thing even if someone paid me to! Oh well most everyone is for sale for a price.

Michigan Bob nobody cares if you like it. Most of us think its a very practical choice that should serve them well in what they are using it for.

@Hemi V8 .. That's exactly what I'm saying! These vans are too tall and too big for the work a lot of guys do. You can pull a E-350 into a parking garage or indoor worksite. You can't get this monster into those spots. It's going to be hard to park. It's going to drive like crap in a crosswind. It's going to be underpowered. These vans are a terrible choice for the working man.

And people talking about Mercedes on an American show...do you really think this Ford van is American? Better look again.

They put hundreds of thousands of miles on these vans for the work they do on the show. A couple of problems with the Mercedes will be expected...and the same will happen with the Ford. But since Ford is doing this as a promotion, you'll never hear about all the break-downs they have now.

There is a good chance this van was provided by Ford. When the contract is up, 3 yrs, or ??, they'll be driving something else.

@Gene in Ohio

Are you in Zone 1 or Zone 2 (in Ohio)?

There are 3 different heights and lengths for each person's requirements.

The vans are not too tall for garages. If you want the low roof like the current van, the new van is actually .2" lower.

Only difference now is there is MORE choice. Educate yourself.

The way this works is History Channel is paid money and given free use of the van from Ford and in exchange the show will have various views of the van (exterior and interior) with the Ford badge prominently displayed. Mike and Frank may even talk up the van a bit. A lot of broadcast shows and movies do this. The agreements are usually on a season-to-season basis so yes, next season they could be driving something else.

For all of you out there commenting on the height, you do know there is a low standard height model right? but when these guys go out on the "hunt" it is best they have the height to get the items home than to have to ship them, however I do suppose that at one time or another they will have to drive into a garage of sorts with height restrictions, and that would mean they have to carry something's out to the van, also there is more than one wheelbase to choose from. I went onto the link to "build" one, and the diesel engine on the window van is only available with the long wheelbase 3/4t van! and cost over 9k!! but if you want one in a reg non window work van, you can get the diesel across the board with any length or height van for just over 5k! the diesel engine has 190hp @3,000rpm and 346ft/lbs@ 1,750-2750rpm, while the ecoboost is rated at 320/400!!! for a lot less money!

@Sandman 4x4

If you know anything at all about Frank and Mike, the height of the van is not important.

Fyi, I just read this info from a friend that is a Ford dealer sales rep. I asked him about more general info. Some will have a diesel option. This is what he said:
The repalcement will be the Transit.No more Econoline vans, only cutaways for Fords Chassis Pool Companies like the one I work for, only till the year 2020, then it will be all Transit.Ambulance co. will especially love them since it will now have a diesel motor in it. The Econoline does not have the newer 6.7 diesel (Ford built,not International) since it is to big to fit in the Econoline engine bay so they have lost some business because of it. The 5.4 gas motor is in the Econoline now and when they are done with them the V10 gas motor will be the only gas motor available in the Econoline. The new Transit will be available with a low,mid, and high top version (and three different wheelbases and 3 different motors,way more versital than the Econoline) which will suit ambulance etc. perfectly. Most ambulance companys build their bodys on cutaway,dual rear wheel chassis, so they can get a taller body and wider because of dual rear wheels and much less restictions on height since the body is seperate from the chassis.Now they can do the same but not having to buy a seperate body to fit on a cutaway body. Good for Ford, not so much for the body company.

All these vans look the same, white with grey plastic bumpers and a grey strip down the sides.

pap jim: while I do watch the show a lot, I do not profess to know a lot about Mike and Frank, but from what I have seen in more than one episode, there have been "finds" that they have had to ship home because it would not fit in their van, and they have had to pay a lot of money to get it back to Iowa by common carrier! where as it might fit in the new van now! If I remember correctly, the "old van" was not a high top!

Do these guys really need to pick to make money now? I mean they have to be getting 1,000's every episode, I'm sure its for they are doing it to make a show at this point.



That's the ad campaign for the old E-Series vans, and no doubt a dig at Sprinter vans having a reputation for the (repair) shop queens that they are.

The way techs drive vans is: Full-Throttle, brake. Full-Throttle, brake. Full-... Same as ambulance drivers (doing code 3).

The old E-vans can take the rigorous abuse. "Down time" is a big deal in industry. MPG, not so much. And it's not proven that full-size vans with small diesel engines, return appreciable MPG #'s when driven hard constantly.

In not so many words, the campaign reminds commercial buyers, the bulletproof 4.6 V8 and 4-speed auto are still alive and well. Just servicing/maintaining a van is downtime. "Simple" is the rule here.


@sandman 4x4

Tonto wasn't really an Indian. Dean Martin wasn't really drunk on his show.

Andy Griffith wasn't really Opie's father and Frank and Mike fly from town to town on a private jet, and their TV producers and crew make it "look" like they spend their time driving around. It would not matter if they had a Mazda Miata because they aren't really driving that stuff back to Iowa. It's on a LTL trailer.

That was the reliable mb sprinter and only had 200k miles, I much as they drive I thought it would be double that. The 07 and newer sprinters are really suppose to be pos.

They said on the show last night the Mercedes Sprinter was GROSS and kept breaking down all the time.

Here is the full episode where they get the new Ford if anyone wants to watch...


It's called "Enter the Negotiator"

@DenverlllMike - poorly trained ambulance drivers perhaps.......... driving full throttle on acceleration and then on braking is hard on equipment and is a much more dangerous way to drive.

If you drive like that with a patient in the back and your partner attending to the patient, you risk injuring them both.

Some may drive like that but not for long. I've seen paramedics disciplined for not adhering to operational policies. The BC Ambulance Service will NOT defend or protect a Paramedic against liability/litigation if they are in a crash, injure the public etc. if in violation of driving protocol. That is a great way to ruin your life; getting fired and then having to face a multimillion dollar law suite on your own.

Even in the USA(this came out of the USA), if an Ambulance is involved in a crash: a. the paramedic is held to a higher standard than a civilian and b. the courts will look at the end response to see if the "Code 3" level was really required.

Lou_BC - I didn't say "brake hard", you did..That's when things go flying forward. If you're not co-piloting the ambulance, you can't really anticipate stops, gradual to standing on the brakes.

But riding in the back, you would anticipate acceleration. Usually happens shortly after reduced speed or a stop. And even standing on the gas pedal won't produce too much G-forces in ambulances. How fast do you think they can accelerate?

Point is, it's the repeated, constant WOT acceleration the causes excessive drivetrain wear, and break downs. And hard braking is only hard on what we call 'wear items'.

There's a lot a stake, driving an ambulance, code 3 or otherwise. At least what I've seen, ambulances (almost completely) stop at every stop sign an red light, regardless. They drive them with their head on a swivel, and leave absolutely nothing to chance.

An accident while behind the wheel of an ambulance wouldn't be unacceptable. I've driven a million plus miles, and in all my travels, I've yet to see or hear of a crashed ambulance.

@DenverMike: I've heard of crashed ambulances and quite honestly considering the miles driven it's almost impossible NOT to hear of a crashed ambulance--but in every case that I've heard/read about, it was ALWAYS the 'other vehicle' at fault.

How can you produce this remark, ie;

"And it's not proven that full-size vans with small diesel engines, return appreciable MPG #'s when driven hard constantly."

Have you not used google before? Google "diesel vs gasoline".

I think you'll find your answer.

You tend to make these kinds of outrageous comments very well knowing it's a troll. You must know you are trolling.

I don't think the diesel makes as much sense in America as other places. They want a $7,000-9,000 premium for it?! I'd go for the EcoBoost V6!



Worse than that, American's are going to get over their love affair with diesel unless and until gasoline pump prices head way north again.

In the meantime, for all but about 10 percent of buyers, the costs of diesel seriously outweigh any advantages--to the average consumer.

@DenverlllMike - incorrect. Hard braking can and does cause excessive wear. I used to teach driving on occasion and extreme threshold braking was one of the drills taught. This was pre-ABS and early ABS where they were on the back in early trucks. There were several times where we broke suspension components. The units we had were old spares but non-the-less, things break. Another thing is brake fade. Hard braking and heating up the brakes causes incredible brake fade.

Hard acceleration i.e. WOT does occur but as one becomes more experienced, you get better at being smooth and picking when and where to go, slow down and speed up. Statistically, very little is gained by driving extremely hard.

As you have pointed out, most come to full or near complete stops at intersections. That is because most EMS services have protocols in place that demand full stops before entering an intersection on a red light.
Most motor-vehicle codes do not stipulate how an Emergency unit is driven other than the fact that a warning light or audible device gives them (police, fire, ambulance) the right to go through red lights and other traffic has to yield the right of way.

@Lou - You're grasping at straws, but still proving my point for me. Abuse is abuse. For ambulances drivers especially, it's a normal day at the office. For techs paid by how many locations they can hit in a workday, and someone else pays for the gas, maintenance and breakdowns, it's WOT all the time, every time.

@BAF0 - We're not taking straight EPA trials here. I'm sure you know this, dumbing it up, and or just trolling.

You've no doubt seen the episode of TopGear when they ran the Prius all-out on the track and the BMW M3, just following behind got better MPG.

Small fuel efficient engine drink incrementally and substantially more fuel that big engines when both are pushed to repeated, WOT abuse or race (to the next light) conditions.

@DenverlllMike - Dude, you are the king of straw man arguments.

The Owner/Operators I've encountered doing deliveries don't abuse their equipment because they pay the repairs. Larger delivery fleets often go to GPS tracking etc. to curb abuse of vehicles.

My brother's company downsized in 2008 and has a hard time attracting new staff. The junior employees in the field do abuse the sh!t out of the pickups and are hard to discipline because of the shortage of trained staff. What does happen is they are trying to offload those who abuse equipment and don't perform and contract out the more rudimentary jobs.

It eventually comes back to haunt those who abuse equipment.

@Lou_BC - Owner/operators of course, are a different story. Why even bring them up?

Thing is, the more jobs tech accomplish in a day, the more revenue their companies make. So there's a balance there. If the highest grossing, most revenue producing employee has the most problematic vehicle, the company will likely look the other way. That's unless we're talking major repairs, accidents, tickets and or, complaints from motorists.

If techs are hard to find for a given industry, more reason to look the other way. OTOH, the tech that takes his time getting there, probably takes his time doing the work too. And of course produces reduced revenue. There's a "balance" there too, for other reasons.

GPS is one thing, but without telemetry acquisition type software, you're not gathering RPM, shift points, WOT, G-forces, etc. "Speed" doesn't necessarily mean abuse. And abuse doesn't always mean "speed".

But when it comes to emergency medical response, fire and rescue, "abuse" comes with the territory. As long as it's a dispatched 'code 3', and on the way to the scene or medial center.

They are virtually all Mercedes Vans in Australia , except some extreme country areas for Ambulance work.

You state;
"Thing is, the more jobs tech accomplish in a day, the more revenue their companies make. So there's a balance there. If the highest grossing, most revenue producing employee has the most problematic vehicle, the company will likely look the other way. That's unless we're talking major repairs, accidents, tickets and or, complaints from motorists."

Where I work we have high flyers or whips. They live and breathe by the same regulations as rules as everyone else. The guys we pick also need to have what is termed leadership capability. We don't tolerate different rules for different people. All this does is create dissention in the work place.

You claim to run a business?? What some lemonade stand in the front of your 10square home with a beaten up F-150???

So you as a UAW guy believes in a stratified or layered structure for employees?? A pecking order?? Especially for behavioural performance??

I don't know what country you live in. But from your comments you really don't have much of a clue about free enterprise, freedom of choice, freedom of speech, etc.

It seems almost every title with freedom in it you have a very distorted view.

The world isn't free. Nothing is free, even speech. There is freedom until you pi$$ someone off.

What country are really from?? You can't be an American with some of your ideals and comments. You are not Spanish as you don't have a clue about Spain or have ever been there.

@DiM - those who abuse equipment aren't the best employees. If one cannot conscientiously operate a machine they aren't going to be conscientious at their job.

I've read studies on Code 3 responses and aggressive driving makes little difference in response times. The risk isn't worth it and I have seen MVC's that were entirely the paramedic's fault. They were not following established driving protocol born from incident analysis.

There is a difference between hard use, misuse and abuse.

@Lou_BC - I said nothing about "aggressive driving", you did.

I'm talking constant, repeated WOT. Full-throttle, brake, Full-throttle, brake. Full-...

On heavy vehicles, so you're not going to notice WOT when normal traffic is keeping up or pulling away from the plumber's van. Looks professional enough. 0-60 in 15 seconds at WOT. And while only running the same top speed as other traffic.

But WOT acceleration, every time, none the less. From every light, stop sign, break in traffic.

That's why "owner operator" means a hell of a lot in the commercial, industrial trucks world.

Used commercial trucks are normally a bad idea. You bite the bullet on new equipment as soon as you can. I hate buying new trucks, but it's what you have to do.

@DiM - "The way techs drive vans is: Full-Throttle, brake. Full-Throttle, brake. Full-... Same as ambulance drivers (doing code 3)."

Full throttle, brake.......... full throttle, brake............. full throttle, brake................

and that ISN"T aggressive driving???????????????

The comments to this entry are closed.