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Man Who Buys Tank on Ebay is Surprised By What He Finds Inside

Every kid dreamed of owning a tank at some point when they were young, but chances are 99.99% of people never see their tank dreams come true, but for Todd Chamberlain, his dream dream became a reality. Buying a broken russian tank off of ebay (of all places), Todd works on it at his employers farm in England. Everything was going great with the restoration until he stumbled upon something special deep inside the machine.

Why Purchase a Tank

You might be wondering why a man that lives on a farm in England would want to purchase a full-sized tank, and you wouldn’t be alone. After all, a tank takes up a lot of space, is expensive to operate, and the laws for operating a tank are less than vague in most places.

Nick Mead, Expert on Tanks

Thankfully in England, it is actually quite easy to buy and operate a tank, and with places like ‘Tanks-a-Lot,’ you can rent one for use or even go on a tank tour through England. ‘Tanks-a-lot’ is run by collector Nick Mead, and he offers tank driving lessons, rentals for film shoots, and even for private events!

Too Many Tanks

Nick Mead has collected and restored over 150 tanks over the years on his farm in Helmdon, England, with his arsenal containing tanks from British, US, Russian, and Chinese armies. His collection is highly regarded, not only because of the sheer number of tanks he has, but the fact that he has the only Challenger 1 tank currently owned by a collector.

From Russia With Love

Nick found a Russian T-54 tank, built by the Chinese, in an auction and immediately jumped at the opportunity. Taking after the famous Bond movie, Nick wanted to do a “From Russia With Love” experience where people would come and drive 3 Russian tanks. Unbeknownst to him, the tank he was buy held a couple treasures… and a couple secrets.

Bringing it Home

Joe Hewes was the 23-year-old owner of the Russian Tank, and he totally didn’t know what he had in his possession. Thinking it was just a pile of junk, Joe traded Nick the tank for an Abbott self-propelled gun and an army lorry, both worth a combined $39,000 USD. If only Hewes had know what was ferreted away inside the gas tank of the tank, his price surely would’ve changed.

Tracing the Tanks History

A tank is such an iconic piece of machinery, and with all of the data inside and outside available to those inspecting it, one can whip up quite a history. The Russian tank have a relatively low 1,500 miles on it, and it was deployed in Iraq during the Saddam Hussein regime. That right there should get your mind jogging about the possibilities.

What About the Treasure

You may remember the photos that flooded the media around 2003 when Iraq was invaded and Saddam Hussein was removed from power. Saddam famously had gold-plated guns, rolls of “money” toilet paper, and bunkers, palaces, and hideaways full of gold and riches. He’d formally seized power in 1979, and from 1979-2003 he was notorious for his lavish living and use of gold on everything he could. So with that much gold floating around at the time, you were bound to find it in unlikely places after the fall.

Tank Battles

It’s also important to understand where the tank has been active. Tanks played an important role in the Iraqi conflict, and historians have said that poor use of tanks in battlefront activities was a contributing factor in the heavy losses on the Iraqi side.
In one battle alone, the coalition forces destroyed 14 Iraqi tanks, and with such short-range battles at play, it’s not really that surprising that the Russian T-54 tank had only 1,500 miles on the odometer when Nick Mead purchased it from Joe Hewes.

Live Ammo Inside

When Nick Mead bought the Russian T-54 tank, you’d expect that the tank might require some maintenance. It’s unclear what other maintenance was done up to the point when Mead added it to his fleet of military vehicles, but when Mechanic Todd Chamberlain first started working on the tank, he uncovered a stash of live ammunition, which they promptly reported to the authorities. The Russian T-54 tank was obviously used as a repository to hide things, but it wasn’t until he dug a little deeper that he truly found his treasure.

Finding the Treasure Chest

Continuing his pursuit through the T-54 tank, Todd Chamberlain worked tirelessly to clean up the tank and prepare it for deployment into the Tanks-a-Lot fleet. While working on of the external fuel tanks, he felt something cold and heavy inside. He reached into the tank and pulled out a bar of gold bullion! Surprised by his findings, he immediately grabbed in again and found that the bar was not alone…

Struck Gold!

Todd was in utter disbelief. Not expecting to be a treasure hunter that day, he was ecstatic at the amount of fortune that had just fallen upon him. But while he just found two bars, his luck didn’t stop there.

Keep it Coming

Bar after bar kept coming out of the fuel tank, and a certain point they decided to film the whole ordeal, if not for bragging rights, for evidence that they weren’t part of some crazy heist you only see in the movies.

2 Million USD In Gold

After all the gold was pulled out, they estimated it was around 2 Million USD. But what now? What do you do with a large amount of gold? Who still owns gold? Where can you sell it? Did they inadvertently steal from someone? They had more questions than answers at this point, so Nick did the only thing he could think of: he reported the find to the Emergency Services.

Why Report it?

It was an exhilarating experience to report all of that gold, but after the viral news coverage and the high of the initial discover passed, it was very apparent that they had a ticking time bomb on their hands. What if they original owner came for them? People thought that it was part of Saddam Hussein’s treasures, but there is no definite evidence pointing towards that. So the reason they reported it is mainly because the cons outweigh the pros. But what happened next, they didn’t expect.

The Weigh In

In all, Todd found 5 bars of gold, with an estimated worth of around 2.5 Million USD. When his colleagues were asked what they would do with the money, they all gave the same answers: buy a new house, a Range Rover, a fleet of tanks, etc. You know, as you do. But how did the tank end up on Ebay?

How the Tank Ended Up on Ebay

While it’s safe to say 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 their. It’s guessed that the gold might’ve been placed in the tank when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. The UN ordered Iraq to return anything that had been stolen, but a good chunk of property was never returned. With two Northamptonshire police officers enroute to confiscate the gold bars from our fortunate tank owners, how did we get here?

Was the Gold Looted from Kuwait?

The investigators who inspected the situation believe that the gold bars are the result of a Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But keep in mind, this is only a guess. The gold could’ve had a whole different origin all together, possibly part of Saddam Hussein’s famous gold cache.

Sold after the Gulf War

After a short use by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces in the Persian Gulf conflict, the tank was sold by the Coalition after the conflict subsided. In large-scale auctions, it’s easy to see how this tank could end up anywhere in the world. Nick Mead eventually became the owner after winning it in an auction ages ago.

Keeping a Positive Attitude

Even though Nick had to surrender all of the gold found in the tank, he is still optimistic because he got a beautiful tank for a bargain price. Mead told reporters: “Even if I don’t get any of the gold back I will still have my beautiful tank.” That’s a whole lot of love going on. He must love his collection quite a lot.

Who’s Nick Mead Anyways?

Nick Mead is usually the name that’s associated with this golden tank story, but he is firstly a collector and military aficionado, who bought the tank on eBay. Nick is known as THE tank guy in the UK.

Who’s Todd Chamberlain?

Todd Chamberlain, a military enthusiast and mechanic, holds a key position in the Tanks-alot crew. He also had the tenacity to keep working on the tank, even when there wasn’t an obvious solution to it’s mechanical problem. Chamberlain had already located that stash of munitions, so he really was expecting to find more hidden items in the tank, that’s why they were filming their actions when they dug into the fuel tank.

Unpacking the bars

Todd Chamberlain and Nick Mead had to show what they had found (and saw) when the bomb squad came to call. Of course, you might also think that videotaping the discovery also limited their ability to keep the gold bullion, though. At least one commenter has said, “Delete the video and buy a car.” In other words, the concept is that if they hadn’t captured their exploits on video, they would have been able to keep the gold and lived the high life. Who would have even known?

Untarnishing the Gold

Not only did the team hand over the gold, the seemed to have polished it up as well. In the above photo, you can see a polished bar next to an unpolished one. People are surmising that the reason they polished the bars was that they were actually going to keep them, but after learning how much they were actually worth, they felt like they HAD to call them in. I mean Nick probably makes a killing from Tanks-a-Lot, and he didn’t want to jeopardize his business.

The Tanks-a-Lot Team Knew

It also might’ve been hard to keep 2.5 Million dollars worth of gold bars a secret, seeing that all 15+ staff members at Tanks-a-Lot knew about the discovery. Someone would’ve talked about the gold eventually, it’s just human nature.

Going Viral

In the end, Todd and Nick enjoyed their 15 seconds of fame for their discovery. Featured on multiple newscasts and reality shows, they probably made a pretty penny on the whole ordeal, not to mention all the free advertising for Tanks-A-Lot.


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