Kids are usually very enthusiastic about owning a tank one day. Todd Chamberlain made sure his dream becomes a reality. He bought a broken Russian tank from eBay and started working on its restoration at his employers’ farm in England. Restoration work was going great until he found something special in the tank. In England, it is straightforward to buy and operate a tank with places like ‘Tanks-a-lot’ where you can rent one for use and even go on a tank tour through England. ‘Tanks-a-lot’ is run by collector Nick Mead and he also offers to give tank driving lessons, rentals for film shoots, and for private events as well.
Nick Mead’s farm is a perfect place to run over cars and have fun. However, sometimes when you buy a tank, you can also expect some unexpected gifts. Nick Mead has collected and restored more than 150 tanks over the last years on his farm in Helmdon, England. There is arsenal containing tanks from British, US, Russian, and Chinese armies. His collection is very highly regarded especially because of the number of tanks he has and also because he is the only collector who has the Challenger 1 tank.
He found a Russian T-54 tank which was built by the Chinese. Nick wanted to do a “From Russia With Love” experience where people can come and drive 3 Russian tanks. Little did he know that the tank he was buying had some treasures and some secrets as well. Joe Hewes was 23 years old owner of the Russian Tank, and he was also unaware of what he had in his possession. He traded Nick the tank for an Abbott self-propelled gun and an army lorry, both of these worth $39,000. The Russian tank had a relatively low 1500 miles on it, and it was deployed in Iraq during Saddam Hussein era.
When Iraq was invaded in 2003 and Saddam was removed from power, he had gold plated guns, rolls of ‘money’ toilet paper, bunkers, palaces, and hideaways full of gold. He seized power in 1979 and from 1979 to 2003 he was known for his lavish living and use of gold on everything. With so much gold everywhere, one can expect to find some anywhere. When Nick Mead bought the tank, it needed some maintenance. When Mechanic Todd Chamberlain started working on the tank, he uncovered a stash of live ammunition. The Russian T-54 was used as a repository to hide things, but when he dug a litter more in-depth, he indeed found the treasure.
He was working to clean up the tank and prepare it for deployment into the Tanks-a-lot fleet. When he was working on the external fuel tanks, he felt something cold and dense inside. He reached into the tank and pulled out a bar of gold. He was surprised to find it and then immediately grabbed in again and found that the bar was not alone. He saw two bars, but his luck didn’t stop there. Bar after bar kept coming out of the tank and at a point they decided to film the whole thing.
After pulling out all the gold, they estimated that it was around 2 Million USD. Nobody knew what should they do with the gold bars, so they reported the finding to the Emergency Services. The reason they reported was that they were not sure if the original owner of the gold might come looking for it. They found five bars of gold which were estimated to be around 2.5 Million USD.
While Nick and Todd never expected to find 2.5 Million USD of gold bars in their eBay purchase, they still don’t know how it got there. A guess is that the gold might have been placed in the tank when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. The UN ordered Iraq to return whatever had been stolen, but they never returned a good chunk of property. The investigators who inspected the situation also believe that the gold bars are the result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. However, it is still a guess, and there could be a very different origin.
After a short use by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces, the tank was sold by the Coalition after the conflict ended. Nick Mead eventually became the owner after winning it in an auction. Even though he had to surrender all of the gold bars that he found in the tank, he is still optimistic that he got a beautiful tank. He said, “Even if I don’t get any of the gold back I will still have my beautiful tank.” Nick is the name that is associated with this golden tank story, but he started as a collector and military aficionado, who used to buy things on eBay. He is also known as the Tank Guy in the town. Todd Chamberlain is a military enthusiast and mechanic and has a significant position at Tanks-a-lot crew. Todd and Nick had to show what they found when the bomb squad came to call. Not only they handover the gold but they polished it as well. Todd and Nick enjoyed their little fame and discovery which was featured on multiple newscasts and reality shows.