Martinico is Trailer, Collectible Savant

April 9, 2010  |  Main Blog

Vintage trailers, pre-1916 motorcycles are Vince’s specialties; is there a classic trailer show in Old Town’s future?

After purchasing my borderline vintage Airstream—it’s a 1972 model, so technically it isn’t old enough to be considered a classic—I located four books about old trailers.  One name was prominent in each:  Vince Martinico.  Photos of his meticulously restored trailers appeared in all of the books, and he was acknowledged as one of America’s leading authorities on vintage trailers.  His expertise is not limited to Airstreams. . .it extends to all pre-WWII brands and types. . .Bolus, canned hams, housecars, streamline cars, trucks—you name it, he’s the man.

Like new again. . .my 1972 Airstream looks as though it just came off the factory assembly line. Uptown Signs applied graphics this week, so the trailer is finally finished. . .for now.

The cool thing is Vince lives right here in Placer County, just outside of Auburn, and he manages his collection in Newcastle.  I finally met Vince earlier this week, after Carpe Vino Wine Club members Gary and Jo Rust put me in touch with him.  The four of us met in the wine bar to talk about the potential for hosting a vintage trailer show in Old Town Auburn in the fall.

Vince and I chatted for three hours, and we could have gone on longer, but after we drained a bottle of the 2006 Bjorn Cabernet Sauvignon, I figured it was sensible to wrap up the conversation.  It was long enough of a visit to know this is one remarkable fellow who starting collecting when he was in grammar school.

He started out modestly, hording cigar wrappers, stamps, door knobs and the colorful labels of fireworks wrappers.  “I liked putting things in rows,” he told me.  These days, the rows consist of, in addition to vintage trailers, pre-1916 motorcycles, race bikes and memorabilia of all genres. 

What is his favorite collectible?  “Anything I can buy that is under its appraised value,” he responded.  That’s because he makes his living trading in objects, and the deeper the patina of age, the better.  He travels the country seeking out new finds at swap meets and through his huge network of contacts, making him a high-end picker. 

In fact, he is long-time friends with both Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, antique foragers chronicled in the History Channel’s wildly popular “American Pickers,” cable series.  Vince says he has been friends with both for 18 years, and has Mike on his speed dial.  He trades frequently with the duo.

All pickers seem to have an issue with hoarding.  They are driven to collect but hate to part with anything.  In fact, Vince’s business card reads:  “Always buying—Sometimes Selling.”  The trick, Vince says, is to constantly seek to “trade up” his collections.

Vince Martinico's show-stopping 1908 Indian Torpedo Tank Racer (photo from Motorcycle.com).

Rare motorcycles are one of Vince’s many specialties.  His 1908 Indian Torpedo Tank Racer won four top awards—including Best of Show—at the 2008 Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in Half Moon Bay.  This show is widely regarded as the motorcycle equivalent of the Pebble Beach event for classic motorcars.  (Go to Motorcyle.com for full story.)

Both Vince and the Rusts are eager to participate in putting together a modest vintage trailer show to be held later in the fall.  After getting approval from the Old Town Business Association, the City, et. al., my hope is we get assemble up to 25 beautiful trailers for a show.  It would be a great event and a nice way to encourage people to visit Old Town.

And, I’m hoping to get to Newcastle sometime soon to see Vince’s assemblage of classic rolling stock.



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