I know you’re all mad at me for overusing the term “Holy Grail,” and I’ll admit that I’ve been a bit flippant about that lately. But you’ve got to trust me this time, because this 38,600 mile manual 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee truly is the chalice of immortality, and it has a heartbreaking but also heartwarming story behind it.
I’m not sure why hundreds of thousands of you read my articles about manual transmission Jeep Grand Cherokees. Is it because you realize how incredible these machines are? Is it because, like me, you understand that a manual ZJ is the only four-door Jeep ever to be equipped with a manual transmission, the indestructible 4.0-liter inline six, and a fully coil sprung suspension? Is it because you know that this means the manual ZJ is the only relatively affordable Jeep out there that offers stellar off-road capability, a good on-road ride, rock-solid reliability, and good interior volume? Is it because you also regularly spend your evenings drinking too much wine and flipping through your 1993 and 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee brochures, lamenting the fact that Jeep only ever built 1,500 of these magnificent SUVs?
Or is it just that you’ll read whatever I write even if it’s about mundane Jeeps that nobody cares about? (If it’s this option, then I’ll just say thank you!).
Anyway, of those 1,500 manual Jeep ZJs built, I’m almost certain that none are in as perfect shape as the 1994 model shown here. That’s because it was driven only briefly by a young volunteer firefighter and avid snowboarder named Bruce Anstatt out of Wilmington, Vermont. Bruce had incredible taste, knowing even way back in 1994 that this machine was something special. You might say Bruce was the very first person to identify the grail. Here’s an excerpt from the Deerfield Valley News out of Wilmington, Vermont:
In January 1994, at age 25, Bruce was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In May, while he was undergoing treatment, he bought his dream car - a loaded 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. “He saved and saved and saved up for the Jeep,” Angela Anstatt says. “He wanted everything on it. I remember we went to Keene to buy it, but he hadn’t figured in the cost of taxes - we were putting all our quarters and pennies on the table.”
Per the story, Bruce drove his Jeep for the summer and fall of 1994, but before the end of the year, he died from cancer. “His treasured Jeep went into storage,” the Deerfield Valley News writes, then quoting Bruce’s mother Angela, who said:
“I just couldn’t turn around and sell it or give it away,” Angela Anstatt says. “So it has been in a heated garage for the last 27 years. But finally, I just needed the space and it seemed a shame to just let it go.”
So Angela and another woman decided to raffle the car off, and to split the proceeds between a community center and a cancer relief fund. Per the Deerfield Valley News:
...the two discussed several possibilities, and eventually decided to raffle the car and split the proceeds between the Guy Hawkins Cancer Relief Fund and the Old School Community Center. The Guy Hawkins Fund helps families in the valley with cancer treatment-related expenses. The Old School Community Center, located in the former Wilmington High School building, has several critical needs, including an upcoming boiler replacement.
This is without question the best Jeep Grand Cherokee in the world. Not this model — I mean this exact one. It’s hunter green with a manual transmission bolted to the legendary 4.0, it has the off-road package, and it is in mint condition. It’s almost too perfect for my feeble mind to comprehend.
This truly is the one and only Holy Grail, and if you don’t believe me, look at this:
That’s a print newspaper declaring this machine the “Holy Grail” in its headline! And it’s a well-established fact that print newspapers are always right. Hence, the one true grail has been found, and it lies in Vermont.
Raffle tickets for the Jeep are $20 a pop. I’ll be snagging a few before the lucky owner is announced on July 6. Worst case, I benefit a good cause. Best case, I snag the best Jeep ever built outside of Toledo.