The Treasure Hunt Begins
One day, while Nick Mead was browsing the internet looking for another combat vehicle to add to his reputable collection, he came across a Russian T-54 that was up for sale on eBay. Inspired by the type of tank, he came up with an unusual business idea and just had to have the Russian tank for his tank driving experience company, Tanks-Alot.
“I saw it advertised and I had this idea of doing a From Russia With Love experience, where people would come and drive three Russian tanks,” Mead told the Daily Mail. Mead may not have been looking for buried treasure, but the treasure was certainly about to find him in the most unexpected way.
The Soviet T-54
This specific model of tank, the Russian T-54, is part of a series of main battle tanks there were introduced by the Soviet Union in the years immediately following the Second World War. These tanks have been involved in numerous armed conflicts throughout history.
Struck A Goldmine
It’s estimated that over 100,000 Russian T-54 tanks were built until production of the series was halted in 1979, being replaced by newer models. The Russian T-54 tank was used in active battle throughout the world, including the Middle East, the Vietnam War and Angola just to name a few.
A Rare Find
A 23-year-old man named Joe Hewes posted the old Soviet war tank on eBay for sale. He was happy to sell the tank but ended up trading it with Mead. Hewes traded the tank in for two other armored vehicles. Together, worth around $42,000Little did he know at the time that there was a fortune hidden inside the old tank he sold. A fortune that would be worth over 60 times what the bartered vehicles were worth. But along with that fortune came a dark secret.
Nick Mead has been collecting combat vehicles for a long time and he knows that some of them come with more than what meets the eye. Tanks are deadly war machines, but during times of conflict and uncertainty, they are also used for other means.
When political climates are uncertain and regimes are in a state of uncertainty or in danger of collapsing, tanks have been used throughout history to safely transport people and items of precious value. Whether that be important people or stolen treasure, each tank comes with a unique story of their own.
Origin of the Soviet Tank
The origin of the Soviet tank Nick Mead bought on eBay is undoubtedly an interesting one. The tank, while Soviet in origin, was manufactured in China and had been used by the Iraqi army under the command of none other than the notorious Saddam Hussain.
Tanks were used extensively during the Iran-Iraq war which lasted a grueling 8 years and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Shortly after the war, which ended in a stalemate, tanks were used during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During the invasion, Iraq looted the rich Persian Gulf nation of countless treasures, many of which were transported by tank.
Mead and His Team
Shortly after receiving the tank, Mead and his team at Tanks-Alot quickly got to work. They worked to examine the tank’s condition, started replacing parts that were damaged, and also restored parts that had eroded over time. All to get the tank back to pristine condition and fully operational.
As part of the process, the Tanks-Alot team searched every nook and cranny of the armored vehicle, knowing that they would have to be as thorough as possible. Overlooking just one part of the vehicle might mean it could critically malfunction or worse, put Mead’s customers in grave danger.
After putting in countless hours working on the tank, inspecting and restoring, the team ran across something out of the ordinary. One of the tank’s fuel canisters was not working, like it had been purposely disabled, but there was certainly something inside.
Something Was Hiding
The team could tell by the weight of the canister that something had been stored inside, in secret, something that wasn’t supposed to be easily found. After carefully removing the canister that was mounted on the tank the team found something that they had never expected to find.
The team cautiously removed the fuel canister and prepared themselves for what they were about to find. At best case it would be something valuable, at worst case it could be something that would put them all in danger.
Within the fuel tank, the Tanks-Alot team found a stockpile of ammunition. For now, they were in the clear. The ammunition would have to be reported and turned over to the proper authority for disposal. There was no telling how old the bullets were and whether they were even fit for use. Trying to use a corroded or faulted bullet in a gun could spell disaster, so the team took the cautious route.
Another Suspicious Find
The team grew more diligent after the first find, knowing that if the tank had been used to hide items then in all likelihood there were more hidden secrets inside. And sure enough, they ended up finding another huge secret. Just as they had discovered the ammunition, the team found another fuel tank that was not functional. This fuel tank, though, was much heavier than the last. Not heavy because it contained fuel or ammo, but something else altogether.
Proceed With Caution
This time the team was certain that the canister was holding fire arms. But after disconnecting it from the tank, suspicion rose that it was something else entirely. The team decided that this time they would take a video of the unveiling of whatever was inside the canister.
The Buried Treasure
The fuel canister was so heavy that it took two people with crowbars just to get it up high enough to reach inside. The underside of the canister had been broken open to get the mysterious items. Mead’s colleague reached his hand inside, not knowing what to expect. After a few nerve racking moments struggling with the weight of the item inside the canister, he pulled out a brick of sorts.
A brush against his clothes revealed a shine, a shiny gold bullion. The Tanks-Alot team had struck gold.
Excitement immediately filled the room and the two colleagues that were previously struggling to hold the canister up were suddenly filled with adrenaline-infused strength like they had never been before. Like magic, every time he stuck his hand in, it came back out with another gold brick. They found five in total. They could not believe what was happening. But it didn’t end there.
The entire Tanks-Alot team was overjoyed by the amazing find. Never in their wildest dreams had they thought they would find solid gold bars, a small fortune inside a tank that was purchased off eBay. But could they keep their new found treasure?
Police Gets Involved
Mead contacted the police to inform them of what the team found hidden inside the tank and they sent over police officers. The officers came to the farm and collected the gold bars, leaving Mead with only a receipt.
The Wonders of the Internet
That receipt is now Mead’s only connection to the gold bars that are locked away tightly in a UK police station. According to the police, they are going to attempt to locate the rightful owners of the gold. But where did they come from?
By the time Nick Mead set out to buy this particular tank, the one that would change the rest of his life, he already had a wide collection of tanks in his arsenal. But was he attempting to overthrow the government? Just a military enthusiast? Or was it something else completely?
The Reason Why
So just what exactly is the reason for Nick Mead’s tank collection? His job. Mead runs a rather out of the ordinary business that deals with tanks and other armored vehicles. Mead’s company rents out tanks and other armored vehicles to be used in movies and TV shows. But even he couldn’t anticipate what was coming next.
The name of Nick Mead’s company is ‘Tanks-Alot.’ At his farm in the village of Helmdon, England, you can drive tanks around and even experience crushing a car with the tank that you drive. Mead’s business also offers a number of other services and activities. You can even do a tank driving license course at the locations. After you pass your license test, you are able to buy a tank from Tanks-Alot. There is a wide variety of tanks in their collection for sale, in case you’re interested in making a purchase.
Nick Mead has collected over 150 tanks, to date, which is quite a collection. In fact, there are small countries that don’t even have that many tanks. The tanks that Mead buys come from all over the world, each with a unique story and background.
Mead also has a rather controversial tank in his collection, a tank known as Challenger 1. The Challenger 1 is a British made main battle tank and Mead holds the title of being the only private citizen in the world to own one. But that’s not what’s controversial. What’s controversial is that the Challenger 1 tank is still currently in use by the British military in war. This has led many people to ask, just how did Nick Mead get his hands on one.
Even prior to Mead’s amazing discovery of the treasure hidden in a tank, he was making headlines just for driving his children to school. You would think that driving his children to school is a pretty ordinary task. But Nick Mead is no ordinary man.
Makes News Headlines
Mead made the news for driving his two kids to school in a 17-tonne tank. Now that’s one way to impress your friends. Mead says that his kids love it but that they are so used to it by now that they are most likely bored of the novelty of it all. What did the police think?
“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 certainly seems to enjoy seeing people’s reactions. Even though the tank is street legal, that doesn’t mean that driving a giant war machine down a bustling city street is a simple task. One wrong move and the 17-tonne tank can easily crush a car or worse.
Mead admits that he has had some close calls while driving the tank in town but the worst that has ever happened was taking the fuel cap off a bus that got too close. “But in my 20 years driving tanks I’ve never had once crash, I’m always extremely careful, especially with the kids.” So what happened with the gold?
What About The Gold Bars?
It is believed that the gold bars were stolen from Kuwait by Iraqi soldiers during the invasion of the small Persian Gulf nation in 1990. Iraq looted billions of dollars worth of valuable items from Kuwait during the occupation, only some of which were returned.
Stolen Loot From A Certain Someone
After the war Iraq returned 3,216 gold bars to Kuwait, each of which was individually weighed. The return was overseen by United Nations forces. Another possibility is that the gold was stolen from Saddam Hussain’s personal stash. After the US invasion of Iraq troops found almost a billion dollars worth of hidden treasure, including gold.
Dangers Of Gold
While the thought of keeping the gold might have momentarily come across the minds of Nick Mead’s team, in the end it would have been a terrible idea. The gold Mead found in the Soviet tank is estimated to be worth around $2.4 million. Mead’s entire company quickly learned about the find as the word got out quickly. Had he kept the gold for himself, robbers would have done anything necessary to steal it, endangering Mead, his family and the Tanks-Alot employees.
The story of Mead’s incredible find quickly went viral all over social media and hit headlines worldwide. Everyone was amazed by the enormous find, but also by the fact that you can simply buy a tank on eBay. Who would have thought that was even legal?
Hunting It Down
Well, now you know. Reporters also hunted down the man that sold Mead the tank. Turns out, he isn’t bitter about not finding the gold himself. But he did say that if Mead gets to keep the gold, he expects to be taken out for a pint of beer.
Mead has stated that he keeps the receipt he got from the police in a bank vault to be safe. At most, he says, he might get a finder’s fee. But he still keeps his fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe, he will get to keep the five gold bullions he discovered inside the tank he bought.