A New Business Opportunity
Nick Mead was used to scouring the internet to find a combat vehicle to add to his already vast collection. One day, he came across a Russian T-54 up for sale on eBay, and this led to him coming up with an unusual business idea. “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 explained. However, Mead was soon to discover a real hidden treasure.
It’s amazing to think that one tank could be involved in so many conflicts over the years. The Russian T-54 has been a real powerhouse during the years of the Soviet Union, especially in the aftermath of World War II. Until production came to an end in 1979, over 100,000 T-54’s were built. After that, new models were created and these days, Russian T-54 are used all over the world, including in Angola, in Vietnam and even in the Middle East.
If Only He Knew
So it seemed strange when a 23-year-old man put up an old Soviet tank for auction on eBay, of all places. It turns out that Joe Hewes traded the tank with Mead, getting two armored vehicles in return, with a combined value of $42,000. However, little did Hewes know was that the tank was actually worth an absolute fortune. It was so valuable that it was actually worth over 60 times the vehicles he was given in return. But there’s more to it than that…
Although he has been in the combat vehicle collecting game for a while, Nick Mead is aware that some of his acquisitions have some stunning secrets attached to them. Usually, tanks used in battle can cause some serious destruction. However, when a country suffers political unrest, tanks have been used for other reasons. Most notably, to transport people, as well as valuable items. The likelihood is that if you have a tank, it has probably carried something, or someone, very important.
Nick Mead was made aware very early on what the story was behind his Soviet tank. Despite being used by the Soviet Union, the tank had actually been made in China. After that, it had been taken to Iraq to be used by its military, which at the time was controlled by Saddam Hussein. During the Iran-Iraq war, hundreds of thousands of people had lost their lives during these tragic eight years. Afterward, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, it took many treasures in its tanks.
Team Work Is Dream Work
It wouldn’t take long before Mead and his Tanks-Alot team gave a close inspection of the tank. Soon enough, they worked out what needed replacing and restored any damaged or weathered parts of the tank. The goal was to make sure that the tank could be properly used again. While dismantling the tank, the team explored every little nook and cranny, leaving no stone unturned. They needed to make sure that the tank was in absolute top condition.
Something Out Of The Ordinary
The team got together to inspect and restore the tank, putting in innumerable hours. Eventually, they came across something out of the ordinary. A member of the team noticed that one of the fuel canisters was not working and looked as though it had been purposely disabled. Given the weight of the canister, the team had suspicions that something was stored inside, possibly a secret that was not supposed to be found easily. Now their suspicions were confirmed.
The team carefully removed the fuel canister and were about to find something they never thought they would find. They thought it could be something either extremely valuable, but were also wary that it could be something that would put them in danger. The Tanks-Alot team found the secret inside the tank, a stockpile of ammunition. They would have to report and given to the proper authority for disposal. It was unclear how old the bullets were and whether they were fit for use. The team did not risk trying them out.
More Suspicious Findings
The team became very particular and careful as they realized that if the tank had been used to hide items, there was a high chance that these bullets were not the only secret goods hidden inside. Just as they had suspected, they uncovered more secrets. The team found another fuel tank that was also not functional. It was much heavier than the other one, and not because it contained fuel or ammo. Instead, there was something completely different inside.
Backed With Evidence
Since finding the ammunition, the team was sure that this other canister would hold firearms to go along with them. After disconnecting it from the tank, however, they began to question that it was something else altogether. They decided it was best to video the unveiling of the mystery inside the canister. The team had to protect themselves and continue with caution in case the items inside were illegal, and they needed to prove they were not theirs.
The Hidden Treasure
It took two people with crowbars to get the fuel canister high enough to reach inside given the enormous weight of it. In order to get the undisclosed items out, they broke the underside of the canister open. Mead’s colleague bravely reached his hand inside. He noticed the object was heavy and after a few antagonizing moments, he managed to pull out a brick which had a slight gleam. He brushed it against his clothes, revealing a shiny gold bullion. The team had struck gold!
Burning With Excitement
The energy inside the room was palpable as the team that had struggled with the weight of the canister moments ago was buoyed by their find. The mechanic, Todd Chamberlain, kept his hopes in check as he reached inside to see if there was any more treasure buried within. To their great surprise, he deftly pulled out a second gold bar, then a third, fourth, and finally a fifth. But still, waiting in the depths of the fuel canister were more surprises.
Even while the Tanks-Alot team began celebrating, they knew that keeping their payload would be far from simple. For starters, they had to decide if they would even report the find. However, the owner of Tanks-Alot, Nick Mead, immediately made it clear that he wanted to go through the process by the book, which would mean plenty of paperwork in their future. Suddenly, the purchase wasn’t simply a stellar find from eBay. It now had to be reported to the authorities.
Checking Out The Goods
Mead decided the best course of action would be to call the police, who hurried over to the farm. After checking out the tank and its gold bars, the officers realized they’d need to keep the gold as evidence for their investigation. Despite their previous elation, Mead and his team were swiftly left with only a receipt to tell the world of the incredible discovery they’d made. All they could do now was wait.
Cave Of Wonders
Barely 30 years ago, it was hard to imagine that anything like the fictional Cave of Wonders present in the Disney film Aladdin could exist in real life. As the internet’s reach has spread, however, it’s clear that e-commerce is not just for buying books, gifts, or other household items without ever leaving your couch. Most incredibly, it’s possible to buy out of the ordinary artifacts like tanks, even off of a website that’s as common as eBay.
Building A Collection
When most people heard that Nick Mead was a tank collector, they assumed he meant models or tanks, or something else that seemed more accessible. By the time Mead purchased the tank that would end up changing his life, he was already one of the foremost collectors of old tanks in the world with a sizable collection, as far as heavy artillery was concerned. Even so, this tank, in particular, was more out of the ordinary than he could have ever expected.
What legitimate reason could anyone have for collecting tanks? It turns out Nick Mead is in a niche business dealing in tanks and armored vehicles. But he isn’t selling to third-world warlords; actually, there’s a fairly good chance you’ve seen one of his tanks in a war movie, as his clientele are generally movie and TV production companies. Usually, we don’t think about where props on movie sets come from, yet there is clearly a market for it. Little did Mead know what would happen next…
Nick Mead named his company “Tanks-Alot,” as he offers tanks — a lot of them. If you visit Helmdon, England, you can check out his tanks firsthand on his farm. In addition to driving the tanks, you can even crush a car underneath the tank treads. But this isn’t the only thing Mead offers. There is a tank driving license course given there, and once you pass your test you are allowed to buy a personal tank yourself from Tanks-Alot. Mead has a wide variety on stock!
Easier Than It Looks
While it may seem impossible and illegal to own a tank (much less an army of them, like Mead does), it is actually not that big of a deal to buy one of them. There are numerous tank businesses like Mead’s in both the U.S. and the U.K that sell tanks. Often the turret must be decommissioned before any commercial purchase can be made, but the actual purchase itself is no big deal at all.
A Fine Collection
Nick Mead has gathered together over 150 tanks over the years, giving him a personal arsenal that rivals the national arsenals of some small countries. The ones purchased by Mead come from all over the world, and each of them has its own fascinating story of how it got into his collection. According to Mead, he learned after years in the business that tanks are also used for reasons other than war. Their massive size and vast storage capacity makes them great vehicles to hide and smuggle things.
One of the most controversial tanks in Mead’s collection is called the Challenger 1. Made in Britain, the Challenger 1 was the main battle tank of the U.K from 1983 to the mid-1990s, and Mead is reportedly the only private citizen to own one. Being the sole civilian in possession of a tank is one thing, but what makes owning the tank controversial is that it is still used by the British army to fight wars. This has raised eyebrows and brought people to ask just how, exactly, did Mead get his hands on that tank?
Up until this day, we’re wondering how Nick Mead managed to get his hands on the rare still-in-use tank. Although the origins of the tank is a mystery to all, it’s certainly no secret. Mead is famous among his community having a fiery passion for everything business and tank-related. Hiding a massive tank in a village is no easy task, much less an entire fleet of them. Nick is frequently seen driving his gigantic vehicle around, attracting customers who flock to his business to experience the thrill of driving one.
Even before Mead amazingly discovered the treasure hidden in the tank, he was making headlines just for driving his children to school. Dropping your kids off may seem like an ordinary parent-like task, but we all know that Mead is everything but ordinary. Here’s the proof: Nick was featured on several news channels for dropping off his kids at school in a 17-ton tank. In an interview, he noted how his kids love the rides but are so used to it by now, it’s no longer something special.
We were surprised when we discovered how easy it is to buy a tank, but when we learned that it’s okay to drive one on the roads, we were shocked. Apparently, but driving this massive baby is legal and you can drive it just like you drive a car. That being said, it’s no surprise Nick turns heads when he rolls through town in his gigantic machine. He admitted, “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.”
With it being legal and all, Mead takes advantage of the fact that he can drive through town in his massive tank. He says people wave as if their hands are going to drop off when they see him. Nick has admitted to having fun teasing the local police on the roads and seeing their reactions. He told The Telegraph, “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.”
Although the tank is just as street-legal as a classic ford, that doesn’t make it easy to control. It only takes on the wrong move for the 17-ton tank to crush a car. The tank-enthusiast has shared having some close calls while driving his vehicle down the road, with the worst being taking off a fuel cap off a bus that got too close. “But in my 20 years driving tanks I’ve never had one crash, I’m always extremely careful, especially with the kids.”