Nick Mead is obsessed with military tanks. He is fascinated by their size and power. So, when he bought a tank off of eBay, he was surprised to find a small fortune inside the tank after it was delivered. His story was swept up by the media and his story has been told internationally and could even impact the political climate of two countries in the Middle East.
Nick was scrolling through the Internet looking to buy a tank to add to his collection. He stumbled upon a Russian T-54 on eBay and decided he would bid on it. How would he pay for it? He wanted to start a business, Tanks-Alot, where people could ride and drive in the tanks. “I saw it advertised and I had this idea for doing a From Russia With Love experience, where people would come and drive three Russian tanks,” he told the Daily Mail.
The Russian T-54 was used by the Soviet Union after World War II. However, they stopped being made in 1979 due to newer models and technology. While they were created in Russia, they are used all over the world including Vietnam, Angola, and the Middle East.
Joe Hewes was the man selling the tank online. Rather than having Nick pay for the vehicle, they decided to trade. Nick gave Joe two armored vehicles that were worth $42,000. Unfortunately, Joe had no idea what was inside the tank that he had just traded.
In Nick’s experience of collecting military vehicles, he has discovered that there is more that meets the eye. When tanks are used to attack the enemy while protecting it’s passengers. They have been used to transport people and items to safety too.
The tank that Nick bought has an interesting history. While it is a Russian tank, it was made in China and used by the Iraqi army while Saddam Hussain was leading the country. The war between Iraq and Iran lasted for a total of eight years and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. When the war ended in a stalemate, Iraq invaded Kuwait and stole many treasures from the Persian Gulf and hid them in tanks.
Restoring the Tank
Nick and his team at Tanks-Alot got to work restoring the tank. They cleaned, examined, and restored the tank so it looked brand new and working. While examining the tank, the team searched every corner to ensure the tank would operate well and not put any passengers in harm’s way.
During a once-over of the tank after hours of working on it, the team discovered something odd about a fuel canister. The canister had been disabled and felt like something was inside of it. The boys took the canister to see what was hiding inside.
The team had no idea what to expect to find in the canister. They found a lot of ammunition hidden in the canister. These bullets would be turned over to the authorities for them to properly dispose of the ammunition.
Another Fuel Canister
Now that they discovered the ammunition, the team was sure there were more objects hidden within the tank. That’s when they saw another fuel canister that had been disconnected. They removed the canister to see what could be inside.
Unsure of what could be in this second canister, the team decided to record opening it in case they came across any illegal objects so they could document that they discovered it. They weren’t prepared for what they did find, though.
It took two team members to lift the canister out of the tank. When they finally got it open, one of them put their hand in to feel around. Finally, he pulled out a block from the canister. With a little rubbing of his shirt, they saw that it was a brick of gold. They had found valuable treasure!
Todd Chamberlain reached back into the canister and pulled out another gold bar, then another, and another. They emptied five gold bullions from the canister.
Who Do They Belong To?
The Tanks-Alot team knew that they could find hidden objects and valuables in tanks, but they never thought that they would find bricks of gold. However, they weren’t sure who the bricks belonged do. Did finders keepers count in this situation? Nick decided to let the authorities know what they had discovered.
Contacting the Authorities
Nick contacted the police, who came to his property and took the gold bars from him. They left him with a receipt that he handed the gold over. The police assured Nick that they would investigate to see who the gold belonged to.
eBay is a convenient yet mysterious part of the Internet. You can buy almost anything on the website and sometimes you never know what you’re going to get. Nick never expected to find pounds of gold sitting in a tank that he bought off of the Internet.
Nick Mead undoubtedly had a strange hobby collecting military arsenal. Before purchasing this tank on eBay he already had a small collection of vehicles and military equipment. Some may think he was trying to start his own army to overthrow the government. Others thought he just had a strange hobby.
While Nick collects these vehicles out of interest, he also has a business with them. He restores the vehicles and rents them out to movie and television sets to use during filming. It’s a genius idea!
Along with renting out the vehicles to movie sets, people can also come to Nick’s farm in Helmdon, England to ride in the tank and crush cars with their massive wheels. Customers can even learn how to drive a tank and receive a license so they can buy a tank of their own.
Process of Buying a Tank
It’s surprisingly easy to buy a tank in England and America. As long as the main gun is decommissioned on the tank, you’re good to go! There are many businesses similar to Nick’s around the country.
Over the years, Nick has built an impressive collection of 150 tanks. It’s almost like his own personal army. The tanks are from all over the world. Nick has learned that tanks aren’t always used in war, sometimes they are used to smuggle items across borders.
There is one tank, the Challenger 1, that causes some controversy in Nick’s collection. The tank is still used by the British military and Nick is the only private citizen in the country to own one. Many people wonder how Nick came into possession of such a vehicle.
Nick is pretty well known in his community for his business. There is no secret that he collects tanks and military vehicles. They would be pretty hard to hide from everyone, that’s for sure.
Nick is no stranger to the press. He has made headlines for multiple things, including driving his children to school in one of his military tanks. Talk about being the cool kids in school!
Did you know that tanks are street legal? “People often do a double take. They can’t believe it, and when they see the tax disc which verifies it’s road legal, they’re even more gobsmacked,” Nick said about driving his tank on the streets.
Taking to the Street
Nick enjoys taking his tanks out on the road and waving to people they pass by. He likes the attention, especially when the police get involved. “The police often grin or look the other way and most of them don’t know what to do, it’s not every day you see a tank rolling into town,” he said to The Telegraph.
It’s very different driving a tank than driving a car. One wrong turn and people can get seriously hurt. “In my 20 years driving tanks, I’ve never had one crash, I’m always extremely careful, especially with the kids,” Nick recalled.
The Gold’s Origin
Many people believe that the gold bars were stolen by the Iraqi army from Kuwait in 1990 during their invasion of the Persian Gulf. A total of 3,216 gold bars were stolen and then returned to Kuwait after the war.
The gold Nick found in the tank was worth $2.4 million. He made the right choice going to the authorities with it because having this amount of money in your home is an opportunity for dangerous burglars to come and steal it.
The story of Nick finding the gold bars in the tank went viral and gained a lot of attention worldwide. Everyone was shocked that you could buy a tank off the Internet and the fact that it could be filled with millions of dollars of gold.
The police who Nick handed the gold off to are still investigating and searching for the rightful owner of the gold. However, Nick keeps his receipt from them in a bank vault. He hopes that they never find the true owner and he gets to keep the gold. If not, he at least hopes he receives a finder’s fee.
When the story went viral on social media, many people had an opinion on what Nick should have done with the gold. Some thought he should have sold it for cash or made it into jewelry.
There is a heated debate about who the gold rightfully belongs to. Some people say it belongs to who it was stolen from while others believe Nick is the rightful owner because he legally purchased the tank. In fact, a similar situation happened in San Jose, California where a man found gold coins in his storage unit. He was able to keep the gold and make $500k.
Impossible to Track
Many commenters disagreed with Nick’s decision to go to the authorities on the gold. One person even said that it was virtually impossible to track down the gold’s owner. Maybe next time Nick will keep the gold for himself and skip the media attention.