What would the army make of Mead’s Bentley GT W12? The ‘Dakarinspired off-roader’ was created by TV’s Supercar Megabuild team, who fitted it with raised and stiffened suspension, extended wheelarches, crash bars and a rear screen-mounted spare wheel, before painting it a drab shade of green. It was sold at auction in 2017 and now resides at Tanks-Alot, sporting an undignified advertising hoarding on its roof.
Bizarrely, given its outrageous exterior, its pure GT inside, right down to its magnolia hide. It fires up and settles to a hushed tickover but requires a hefty prod of the accelerator to coax it around the yard. It has lost a lot of its original tightness and warning lights blaze from the instrument binnacle but its value as a promotional tool rather, than a rival to the Bentayga, is obvious.
With my wellies heavy with mud, it’s time to stop playing soldiers. In any case, Mead has a T54 and an Alvis Saladin with deactivated 76mm gun to sell. As I leave, the air explodes with a cackle of curses from some of the 34 parrots I’ve only just noticed. “They’re from broken homes,” says Mead, as one of them tells me not to darken the front step again. It wants to be careful I don’t come back in my Chieftain.
In 2017, when restoring an Iraqi tank captured by the British Army during the first Gulf war and bought for £30,000, Nick Mead and Todd Chamberlain, Tanks-Alot’s chief mechanic, found five gold bars, each weighing 5kg, hidden in the fuel tank.
“We couldn’t understand why, having drained it of fuel, we still couldn’t lift it,” says Mead. “Turns out it was the sheer weight of the gold bars, which we discovered when we levered the tank upright and noticed a hole had been hacked into its underside.”
The gold was estimated to be worth around £2.5 million but Mead knew there was only one thing to do: declare his find to the police. He’s still waiting for his reward.
Chieftain Mk10 Tank
Engine: Rolls-Royce 13 Alpha 12-cylinder, 19-litre, opposed-piston, two-stroke diesel