Traveling around in style is one of the many perks of being incredibly wealthy. And in October 2017, following the release of its Performance S motorhome, German manufacturer Volkner Mobil raised the stakes for millionaires everywhere. But while the fact that the vehicle includes its very own garage is impressive enough, the interior of the Performance S has to be seen to be believed.
Gerhard Volkner originally established Volkner Mobil in Wuppertal, Germany, after years of training at a vehicle construction firm. During that period, the eventual entrepreneur would learn about the materials used in putting cars together; he also picked up on the intricacies of hydraulics.
With all that knowledge at his disposal, Gerhard then started to manufacture transport trailers for the agriculture sector. Later, his work became more varied, as the company made vehicles for industrial companies and a sizeable chemical business. At one point, Gerhard even dipped his toe into the production of horse transport trailers.
However, everything changed for Gerhard in the late 1980s. Inspired by his own constant travels on the road, he would design a new motorhome that prioritized comfort and technology. And after presenting the vehicle at the Caravan Salon trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, the entrepreneur switched his focus completely to ultimately produce a range of high-end mobile homes.
“My husband was always thrilled by going on holiday in a mobile home,” Stephanie Volkner, Gerhard’s wife, told business website International Trade News. “[And] he turned his hobby into a profession.” Stephanie did however add, “It helped that [my husband’s] company was in the construction of vehicles and machines.”
And after making its first appearance at the Caravan Salon, Volkner Mobil has since manufactured several different motorhomes. One feature is particularly noteworthy, however; every vehicle has a hydraulic loader that enables a mobile home to store another car under its body.
Then, in October 2017 Volkner Mobil unveiled its newest motorhome to the world: the Performance S. Valued at $1.7 million, the 40-foot vehicle also includes an impressive hydraulic garage that’s able to store a supercar such as a Porsche or Ferrari. However, it’s the interior of the Performance S that is particularly stunning.
For starters, the motorhome includes a sizeable lounge area, bedroom and bathroom. There’s a pretty well-furnished kitchen there, too, complete with a built-in dishwasher, sink and fridge as well as a microwave, an oven and an electric hob. The features of the Performance S don’t end there, though.
The vehicle impressively houses advanced entertainment options, too, while one of the walls can also slide out to create extra space. And Stephanie, the company’s managing director, has summed up the luxurious motorhome neatly. “It is a house on wheels,” the Daily Mail has quoted her as saying in 2017.
“Our clients normally have big companies,” Stephanie continued. “They want to travel freely. They want to decide when they start their journey where they can go – not before. They look at the weather and start. They want to live in their own, very personal area.”
And the Daily Mail has quoted Stephanie speaking about the work that has gone into making the Performance S. She has explained, “Exclusive is [very different] for everybody. Some need a golden faucet to be exclusive. For me, it’s exclusive that the interior has harmony – [that] all the materials are of the highest quality, and their processing is at the highest level.”
Meanwhile, the Performance S has apparently arrived as a response to what Volkner Mobile sees as a growing trend towards plusher, more lavish motorhomes. And according to the company, the lack of restriction given to the driver when it comes to their destination makes a huge difference when out on the road.
“There is the traveler who started with a tent in his youth and now has the money to afford an exclusive mobile retreat,” Stephanie revealed to International Trade News. “But there are more and more holidaymakers who appreciate the combination of luxury and freedom. They want to explore the whole of Europe.”
On that note, the managing director then touched on the changing perceptions of camping today, suggesting that advanced motorhomes have played their part. “We have to show potential customers that going by mobile home has nothing to do with restrictions,” Stephanie added. “Camping has got a totally new image.”
And, unsurprisingly, the reveal of the Performance S created plenty of buzz online, as people shared their thoughts on Volkner Mobil’s latest vehicle. The Daily Mail’s coverage of the motorhome in particular generated a lot of talk from internet users – some of whom were effusive in their praise for the Performance S.
“Dear Santa,” wrote one commenter. “This is what I’d like for Christmas.” Another individual echoed that sentiment, replying, “You and me both. Wow!” Meanwhile, one person chose to comment positively on the interior, writing, “Perfect kitchen, dishwasher at the ideal height [and] small and neat gadgets.”
However, not everyone was impressed by the Performance S. “That color scheme would give me a headache every morning,” wrote one rather underwhelmed commenter. “Forget about it – campers are much less expensive. All you have to do is unhook them from your vehicle, and you are free to travel around to sightsee, shop or whatever else you feel like doing.”
The naysayer added, “$1.7 million is ridiculous for something that is going to lose its value in a few years.” That was an opinion seemingly shared by another individual, who wrote, “[I’d] rather buy a 600k beautiful house, buy a nicely equipped RV for 120k, buy a fancy BMW for 100k and have plenty left over to travel when I’d like to.”
Despite any such reservations from the public, though, Stephanie already has her eye on the future. She has revealed, in fact, that the company is planning to work on even newer motorhome models in the coming years. “We like traveling the mobile way. And I think that many customers will switch to this option in the future,” the director told International Trade News.
Stephanie added to the website, “We want to remain a top player in the high-end segment and continue our quest for new models in the coming year. We have opted against serial production and now offer customized mobile homes that meet the exact specifications of each individual customer. This is what we are good at, and we want to keep it that way.”
But the Performance S isn’t the only automobile to have housed a litany of opulent treasures. A mechanic by the name of Todd Chamberlain, in fact, found a breathtaking cache hidden away in a vehicle on a rural English farm. And in what mode of transport did he find such a prize? Well, in a tank, of course.
Chamberlain had been rooting around in the machine’s fuel container when his hand had grasped something heavy and cold. But when he pulled it out, it wasn’t the rusty weaponry he expected to find. Instead, it was a treasure thought to be worth millions of dollars.
Collector Nick Mead lives in Helmdon, a village in Northamptonshire in the East Midlands, England. And from his farm, he runs Tanks-alot, a business that hires out military vehicles for movies and TV shows as well as for private events and even driving lessons.
Altogether, Mead has some 150 vehicles from around the world, including some used by the British, U.S. and Russian armies. Impressively, too, he’s the only private collector to own a Challenger 1 – a tank designed in the U.K. and still used in combat to this day.
Tanks-alot allows interested parties to visit the farm and try their hand at driving military vehicles. In fact, it’s even possible to hire a tank limousine in which to explore London in style. Recently, however, Mead came up with another idea to boost his business.
While browsing eBay, Mead discovered a special tank for sale. Apparently, it was a Russian T-54 design built by the Chinese – and it would make the perfect addition to his collection, which already included two other Russian tanks. “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,” he explained in an April 2017 interview with the Daily Mail.
As a result, Mead contacted the tank’s 23-year-old owner, Joe Hewes, and eventually the pair hashed out a deal. Mead handed over a £30,000 ($39,000) Abbott self-propelled gun and an army truck to Hewes. And in return he became the new owner of the tank, which is thought to have been manufactured in the 1980s.
Apparently, the tank, which had been deployed in Iraq, only had around 1,500 miles on the clock – but it had clearly been an eventful journey. In fact, while they were taking a closer look at the vehicle, Mead and his mechanic Chamberlain made a startling discovery. They found a stash of live ammunition hidden inside, after which they were forced to contact the authorities to hand it in.
But that wasn’t the end of the drama at Tanks-alot; it was just the beginning. Later that week, Chamberlain realized that one of the external fuel tanks was refusing to budge. With the help of a crowbar, then, he finally managed to lift the heavy container – and then he found a strange hole cut into the metal.
Excited, Chamberlain went to see Mead to tell him about the discovery. And because of the ammunition that had already been uncovered, the pair expected to find guns concealed within the fuel tanks. They also decided to film themselves searching the vehicle.
“You know the rounds we found earlier?” Chamberlain explained in a video uploaded to the Tanks-alot YouTube page in April 2017. “I’m thinking this is the guns to go with them. I reckon it’s full of guns. Which could be a problem for us.”
In order to protect themselves from potential suspicion, then, the pair opted to not only film the entire process but also call the police to dispose of the firearms. However, when Chamberlain reached into the fuel tank, it wasn’t a weapon that he found hidden inside.
Instead, Chamberlain pulled out a single, shining bar of solid gold. And as Mead and his colleagues reacted with disbelief, Chamberlain had another revelation to share. “It’s not the only one, either,” he declared. So with renewed enthusiasm, the team continued to search inside the fuel tank for whatever else might be lying there.
Eventually, Chamberlain pulled an incredible five gold bars from inside the tank. Weighing them, the guys noted that two each came in at more than a stone, while the other three weighed between 12 and 13 pounds apiece. Altogether, he estimated that the bars were worth around $2.5 million.
As they subsequently came to terms with their astonishing find, Mead asked his colleagues what they’d do with their share of the loot. Surprisingly, the responses were relatively humble. While one woman admitted that seven new Range Rovers would be nice, others suggested purchasing a new hoover or even another tank.
However, the team realized that a find of such significance could not be kept secret, so they called the police to explain what had happened. In the video, a clearly shellshocked Mead can be seen telephoning the emergency services. “We’ve found umpteen bars of gold bullion in an Iraqi tank,” he told the operator.
Because of the tank’s links to Iraq, it’s possible that the bullion could have come from Kuwait in the Persian Gulf. When Iraq invaded the country back in 1990, Iraqi forces indulged in wholesale looting, and in total it’s estimated that they stole billions of dollars’ worth of property – including gold bars.
The following year, as part of the negotiations to end the Gulf War, the United Nations ordered Iraq to return the stolen property to Kuwait. However, not everything made its way back across the border. Indeed, many suspect that some of Kuwait’s treasures are still in the hands of private Iraqi collectors.
For their part, sadly Mead and Chamberlain did not get to hang on to their hoard for long. Yes, two Northamptonshire police officers arrived soon after and removed the gold bars. Apparently, they were taken away for investigation to see if they matched up with any missing bullion from Kuwait.
However, Mead is still clinging on to the hope that the bars may be returned to him if the original owners aren’t found. Hewes, meanwhile, has remained surprisingly philosophical about the treasure that he let slip through his fingers. “If he does get to keep some of the money, I expect a pint [of beer]!” he joked.
Since the story went viral in April 2017, it has been hotly debated online, though. Indeed, some commenters have lamented Mead’s decision to turn the gold in. But having chosen to contact the authorities, all he can do is wait to see if honesty will turn out to have been the best policy after all.