Shows like Storage Hunters & Storage Wars make finding unique and interesting things in auctioned off self-storage units seem like a reality TV spectacle, designed to bring more drama and runtime to what would otherwise be a dull storage unit auction.
However, you’d be shocked to know that these sorts of rare finds do actually happen in real life, and sometimes with just as big dramas as you see in the show. Here are 5 of the most dangerous, unique, and weirdest things found in self-storage units.
$500,000 in Pirate Gold
You would be forgiven for thinking that the days of treasure chests filled with pirate gold are long gone, however one San Jose man discovered differently. During a self-storage unit auction, the anonymous man paid $1,100 for the unit after the previous elderly owner had passed away.
When he won, he thought he was getting an ordinary storage unit, with the possibility of some older, collectible sort of items. However, the new owner was amazed to find a wooden treasure chest, filled with $500,000 worth of rare coins, solid gold & silver.
The Auctioneer Who Loved Me
For anyone with even a passing knowledge of the James Bond films, most people know the iconic scene in A Spy Who Loved Me where the stunning white Lotus Esprit dives into the water and in a moment, the sports car turns into a submarine and starts gliding through the water.
While the scene may only be a work of fiction & good filmmaking, the actual cars used in the scene are very much real, as a couple from Long Island, New York found out in 1989.
They paid $100 at a self-storage container auction and found a white Lotus Esprit in their new unit. Unaware of its value or significance, they hired a towing company to remove the vehicle.
It was only then that they were told that they had a Bond car in their possession by a member of the towing crew. They rented out the movie and watched it, realising just what they had and before reaching out to the Ian Fleming Foundation.
The foundation confirmed that they did in fact now own one of 8 Lotus Esprits used in the making of A Spy Who Loved Me, and on top of that, they now owned THE ONLY 1976 Lotus Esprit used during the filming of the underwater scenes.
The couple put the legendary car up for auction in 2013, where it was bought by an anonymous bidder for $997,000 (£635,000 – worth £901,000 in 2020). That bidder later turned out to be none other than Elon Musk.
He announced shortly after that, although the car didn’t have the ability to transform, he has plans to upgrade the car with his Tesla electric powertrain and get it to fully transform.
In other words, Elon Musk got his hands on a James Bond car and is planning to do exactly what we’d expect Elon to do with it.
An Explosive Unit
In a self-storage unit in Bartow, an auction took place for a unit that had fallen into arrears. This unit was purchased by a Polk County man. The owner was hoping for treasure, however, he got a rather different, explosive surprise instead.
In a box labeled ‘Caution Live Grenade’ was an American Mk 2 Fragmentation Grenade, most commonly seen being used by Allied forces during World War 2 throughout Europe and the Pacific. Upon its discovery, the new owner called the emergency services and soon had the police, fire marshal & bomb squad attending the storage unit, much to the surprise of other unit owners.
The fire marshal told the media that the grenade had been modified and wasn’t safe to be out on the streets, so it was lucky that the authorities had been called quickly.
The owner of the self-storage container site commented that finding unusual and unique things is quite common in the storage industry, with items ranging from firearms to body parts being found from time to time.
As an additional safety precaution, authorities swept the nearby area, but found nothing else, and then turned their efforts to investigating and finding the original owner, who could face charges.
The Last of The Great Barn Finds
Dr. Harlod Carr, a British surgeon, always had a passion for race cars throughout his life, but it wasn’t until his death in 2007 that his nephew discovered one of the last great barn finds.
While settling his uncle’s accounts, Dr. Carr’s nephew visited a self-storage unit garage in England, only to discover 3 classic cars. There was an Aston Martin, a Jaguar E-type, and a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante.
When researching the Bugatti, the nephew discovered that it was one of only 17 ever made, and was in fact, the exact car owned by Earl Howe, the first president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.
The car was in near perfect condition and is almost completely original, which is a huge rarity amongst classic cars of this importance. To top it all off, the car only has 26,284 miles on the clock, despite being driven for 23 years before waiting patiently in storage for Dr. Carr.
This Bugatti was significant back in its day as it could reach speeds of 130 Miles Per Hour (MPH), while most other cars of the time could only do around 50MPH.
Nowadays, its low original production numbers make them incredibly rare and valuable, along with being highly sought after. Experts valued it to be worth as much as $9,000,000 (£5,550,000 – worth £7,875,000 in 2020).
Other experts remarked that this was a huge find for Dr. Carr’s nephew, and is probably one of the last great barn finds out there.
$25 Million Juice Cartons.
Many of us may have fond memories of drinking apple or orange juice from cartons and boxes during childhood.
But for one 43-year-old man, he took his fond childhood memories to the extreme when he used a self-storage unit to hold $25,000,000 worth of drugs and cash in juice cartons in Australia.
Australian police raided the self-storage container to discover nearly 50 kilograms of heroin and more than 20 kilograms of methamphetamines, along with more than $300,000 in cash and a selection of jewelry and other items, all stored in children’s juice cartons.
The Australian police said it was a major seizure and the 43-year-old owner of the unit was arrested.