Watch ‘American Pickers’ Give Back Aerosmith Their Vintage Van

Watch ‘American Pickers’ Give Back Aerosmith Their Vintage Van | I Love Classic Rock Videos

viaHISTORY / Youtube

This reunion wasn’t just with a band member, but with a long-lost friend. Aerosmith’s original tour van from their early days in the 70s—a 1956 International Harvester Metro Van that was abandoned and forgotten in the woods—finally made its back to the legendary rockers.

The van was discovered by the eagle eyes of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, hosts of TV show American Pickers. Recognizing its historical significance, they purchased it and embarked on a meticulous restoration.

Now, after a journey spanning decades and miles, the van has been returned to its rightful owners. In a September 2019 episode of American Pickers, Wolfe and Fritz presented the fully restored van to Aerosmith in Las Vegas, marking a poignant moment for the band and a testament to the enduring power of rock and roll history.

The Band Was Thrilled to See The Van Restored

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry was speechless upon seeing their restored tour van for the first time. He expressed his gratitude to Wolfe and Fritz for their meticulous restoration work. “I think it’s f—— amazing,” Perry exclaimed. “You saved it… you guys did such a good job making it look like it did then.”

Drummer Joey Kramer shared similar sentiments, highlighting the van’s significance: “I’ve had some of my fondest memories in this van.” He also identified the man depicted in the van’s cartoon as Mark Lehman, their former manager and a crucial figure in their early days. “He drove the van, he serviced the van, he set up our gear, and he ran the sound system,” Kramer reminisced during the show.

Perry added a personal touch, acknowledging Lehman’s close relationship with him and bassist Tom Hamilton even before the band’s move to Boston: “Mark was buddies with me and Tom before we moved to Boston.”

Aerosmith’s Connection to the Hilltowns

Aerosmith’s long-lost tour van wasn’t just a random discovery in the Chesterfield woods. Locals, including Tiger Thomas, son of the former Lunchbox owner in Williamsburg, were aware of the van’s presence for some time.

“I had heard stories at the Lunchbox that the band members used to go swimming up at the Chesterfield Gorge,” Thomas shared, finally finding confirmation to these local legends.

News of the van’s sale and restoration brought mixed emotions for Thomas. While acknowledging the Hilltowns losing a piece of history, he expressed his satisfaction with the van ending up in the right hands. “I love that it has gotten into the right hands and will be restored,” he stated, highlighting the importance of preserving this piece of rock and roll history.

A Relic of American Rock ‘N’ Roll History

While their years scouring the country have led Wolfe and Fritz to countless hidden treasures on American Pickers, the discovery of Aerosmith’s long-lost tour van stands out as a truly monumental find.

The van’s journey began on the property of a Chesterfield resident who had lived there since 2005. Pulled from the earth by the owner and his son, the 1965 International Harvester Metro remained untouched, its connection to rock and roll royalty still a mystery.

Unsure of the van’s history and intrigued by its potential significance, the owner contacted Wolfe and Fritz. Their keen eyes and expertise in unearthing hidden stories came into play. With some detective work, Wolfe and Fritz began piecing together the van’s past, leading them closer to the legendary band and a reunion that would transcend time.

Tracing The Clues And Unearthing The Truth

Before the stadium tours and sold-out crowds, Aerosmith was a fledgling band from Boston in 1970. This detail resonated with Wolfe as the recovered van’s model was produced from the late 1930s to the late 1970s.

“If they used this van when they first started rocking, it would have been old enough where they could acquire it pretty cheap,” Wolfe reasoned in the episode. The van’s location in Massachusetts and its potential affordability during the band’s early years seemed promising, but confirmation was needed.

Wolfe, fortunately, had a connection to a crucial figure – founding Aerosmith member Ray Tabano. Tabano was the band’s guitarist before leaving in 1971. With Tabano’s knowledge, Wolfe arranged for him to see the van in person. Upon arrival, Tabano’s confirmation was unequivocal – this was the very vehicle that had transported Aerosmith in their early days.

A Full Circle Moment

The long journey of Aerosmith’s lost tour van has finally come to a beautiful end. After meticulous restoration, the vehicle was proudly displayed outside the Park Theater during the band’s Las Vegas residency. Unfortunately, the residency was cut short due to the pandemic, and the van was packed away once again.

While the van’s current location is unknown, it remains in Aerosmith’s possession. Perry has expressed his desire to see it enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Perhaps negotiations have already begun, or maybe the van is simply in storage.

One thing is certain: Aerosmith’s iconic tour van is back home, a tangible reminder of their humble beginnings and a symbol of their enduring legacy in rock and roll history.