Tanks are among the more expensive pieces of ground equipment a national military has to spring for. That, combined with the general novelty of seeing these massive, rumbling war machines in person or on film ensures that they maintain some level of value even well after their usefulness in battle has evaporated.
Companies all over the globe snatch up tanks and other similar equipment that were once used on battlefields around the planet for resale to collectors, appearances in movies and TV shows, and in some cases, to offer private rides to civilians that may not otherwise ever get the chance to experience the hot, dark, and uncomfortable interiors of the world’s most powerful fighting machines.
Such is the case for a company out of the UK called Tanks A Lot, and its owner (a tank collector in his own right) Nick Mead. His business specializes in providing various kinds of tanks for appearances at events, in film, and even for tank driving classes carried out by his staff. Recently, Meade purchased an ex-Iraqi Army Type 69 tank on Ebay and quickly brokered a deal with the owner, trading an Abbot self-propelled howitzer and a British Army truck to the owner for the piece of Iraqi military history.
Immediately upon taking delivery of his new tank, Mead and one of his mechanics, Todd Chamberlain, set about searching the vehicle and looking over its mechanics. They quickly found live machine gun ammunition inside – something Mead knew he didn’t wanted to be held responsible for in the UK, so they pulled out a video camera and began filming their efforts to search and clear the remainder of the vehicle.
In the course of their search, they eventually came to the diesel fuel tanks, which they decided to open and investigate to ensure there was no other kind of contraband inside the vehicle that they may ultimately have to account for, and to their surprise, there was. Inside one of the fuel tanks, Mead and Chamberlain found five gold bars weighing in at around twelve pounds combined: totaling in a value of about $2.4 million according to local news outlets – though current gold prices at that weight would probably earn a total of more like $1.2 million.
“We didn’t know what to do. You can’t exactly take five gold bullion bars down to Cash Converters without questions being asked, so we called the police.” Mead told reporters last week.
Mead immediately turned the gold over to authorities (while retaining a receipt for its return if officials clear it) and it is currently believed to have come from Kuwait. Iraqi forces engaged in widespread looting as they invaded Kuwait in 1990, which resulted in Iraqi authorities being forced to return some 3,216 gold bars after the war under UN supervision.
Considering the deal Mead made to procure the tank had a value of only around $37,000 – coming across a cool million bucks worth of gold in the fuel tank could make for the bargain of the century, provided authorities permit him to keep it. Chances are good, however, that the gold will be returned to its rightful owners in Kuwait if confirmed to have come from there.
“Even if I don’t get any of the gold back I will still have my beautiful tank.” Mead told reporters – and he has a point.
Images courtesy of News Group Newspapers LTD