Recently, British military equipment enthusiast Nick Mead spoke for the first time about the fate of gold that he found in a tank he bought on the Internet. This was not the first combat vehicle in his collection: Mead’s farm in Northamptonshire houses an arsenal that some countries can only dream of. He, like other private collectors, buys most of the equipment on the cheap. Serviceable – although not the newest – tanks cost them no more than ordinary passenger cars.
Mead has collected hundreds of combat vehicles and gives everyone rides in them for money.
62-year-old Briton Nick Mead collects military equipment. He assembled about 300 tanks and other military vehicles on his farm in Northamptonshire and for money allows visitors can ride them. Renting a tank for a few hours costs about 300 pounds sterling (33 thousand rubles), and for 900 pounds (about 100 thousand rubles) you can crush a passenger car with it. There were similar attractions in other countries: for example, in USA such a service offered Drive a Tank company.
Mead acquired his first combat vehicle in the early 1990s. It was an Abbott self-propelled gun, which was produced in Great Britain in the 1960s and is still in service. It cost him very little: only £1,750. Adjusted for inflation, this amount corresponds to approximately 400 thousand rubles.
collector Nick Mead paid for the decommissioned Abbott armored personnel carrier
For more than 30 years, his park has grown significantly. His tanks are occasionally featured in films and are sometimes rented for weddings or funerals. The collector himself, when his sons were younger, personally drove them to school in a British FV432 armored personnel carrier. According to him, the children were used to it, but passers-by were often confused by the armored car driving down the street. “The police usually smile or look away,” claimed he is in one of the interviews. “The majority simply don’t know what to do in such cases.” It’s not every day you see a tank driving through the city.”
Meade found five gold bars in the fuel tank of a captured tank from Iraq.
In 2017, Meade bought an Iraqi tank at an online auction, developed on the basis of the Soviet T-55 and produced in China. It was sold by 23-year-old self-taught auto mechanic Joe Hughes from the English city of Leicester. He claimed that British troops captured it in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, took it to the UK, and then collected dust in warehouses for many years.
According to Hughes, when the tank came into his hands, it had neither tracks nor a working engine. To repair it, he found a PDF on the Internet with Soviet instructions for repairing the T-55 in Russian. “I don’t understand Russian, so I could only look at the pictures and guess,” he explained.
Hughes agreed to part with his tank for 30 thousand pounds (3.3 million rubles). When Mead moved it to his farm, he discovered that the previous owner had somehow overlooked the machine gun ammunition remaining in the tank. After that, he decided to take a closer look at his purchase and checked the fuel tank.
To his surprise, there were five gold bars inside, worth at least two million pounds sterling (222 million rubles). “When we found the gold bars, we didn’t know what to do with them. After all, you can’t take five bars to the pawn shop next door,” Mead told the Daily Mail. “So we called the police.”
When we found them, everyone was laughing, joking and deciding how to spend the money. My sister wanted a Land Rover, but I would buy a Rolls Royce Phantom and saw off the back of it to make a pickup truck.
military equipment collector
Police officers took the gold for analysis and storage, and Meade has not seen it since. He was informed that the bars were Kuwaiti: most likely they had been stolen during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991. According to the collector, he still regrets that he handed over the gold to the police. “We should have at least charged a finder’s fee. And in the end I received absolutely nothing,” told He.
Collectors of military equipment are buying decommissioned tanks on the Internet and from museums
British and American laws allow individuals to buy and even use decommissioned tanks and other military vehicles, although with some restrictions. For example, in the USA, private tanks can not be a working gun and ammunition. In some states, tracked tanks cannot be driven on regular highways; in others, this requires rubber-coated tracks that do not destroy the road surface.
Often, collectors buy military equipment at regular online auctions – for example, on eBay. Nick Meade does just that.
I always look at the military equipment section on eBay. I check it every three days. I often sell tanks there and buy them too
military equipment collector
Another way is to buy a decommissioned tank directly from the previous owner (usually either the military, museums, or other collectors). For example, about ten years ago, American Bill Arnett sold for only 35 thousand dollars got it armored car “Saladin”, which was in service with the British contingent in Hong Kong. When the city passed to China, the car was out of use and could have ended up in a landfill.
Another American collector, Texan Tony Buzbee, acquired a working Sherman tank from World War II. This is a real rarity: in 1944, he took part in the landing of Allied troops in Normandy and the liberation of occupied Paris. Buzbee bought it from a closed military museum, which greatly annoyed his neighbors: they complainedthat the tank is obstructing passage and creating some kind of “security threat.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger bought himself a tank, which he studied during his military service
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger had a personal tank. The Hollywood actor purchased the American M47 Patton II back in 1991 – he wanted to place it in front of the entrance to his restaurant in Las Vegas, but it didn’t work out. Despite this, Schwarzenegger did not get rid of him. “I drove exactly the same tank when I served in the Austrian army at the age of 18,” explained he told reporters in 2014. During those years, he said, he used the toolbox in the tank to store his weights and dumbbells and used all his free time to prepare for bodybuilding competitions.
Now both in his homeland and in the neighboring Germany You can’t just ride a tank like that. According to German law, private individuals need a special license to own armored vehicles, but they are not simply given them. The last holder of such a license is considered to be car collector Michael Fröhlich, who drove his tank around in the late 1990s. Dusseldorf.
Before the restrictions were introduced, the most famous private tanker in Germany was 35-year-old Herbert Mittländer, who amazed civilians in Frankfurt with his Hotchkiss armored personnel carrier in the mid-1970s. Car got by he is only worth four thousand marks. To register the armored personnel carrier with the traffic police, he had to replace the front armor with an aluminum panel and add headlights, turn signals and brake lights. On weekdays he drove it to work and to the bar, and on weekends he went to the tank training ground in Gelnhausen.
Mittlander found it very amusing that the cops couldn’t leave parking tickets behind the windshield wipers because the Hotchkiss didn’t have a windshield or wipers.
In the end, the police found something to complain about. They noticed that the armored personnel carrier did not have the crumple zone required by the rules. After this, Mittlander could no longer drive it on regular streets.