The manual transmission “holy grail” Jeep Grand Cherokee is my second favorite Jeep of all time (the Jeep Cherokee XJ is number one), and yet, when a beautiful example popped up for sale 45 minutes from my house, I resisted. And I’m here to tell you about it because I need positive reinforcement to help me kick my Jeep-hoarding habit once and for all. Also, you really should check out this beautiful machine.
I once flew all the way across the country to pick up a manual transmission Jeep Grand Cherokee. I’m just gonna embed a video of that trip right here because it was epic and I bet you’ll love it if you haven’t seen it yet:
I snagged that Jeep for $700 — the deal of the century if you ask me, because, after just a few days of hard-core wrenching, the first fully coil-sprung Jeep drove flawlessly 1,700 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado to Detroit.
Ever since that epic holy grail recovery, I’ve been receiving emails from readers disclosing the whereabouts of other holy grails for sale. Heck, one guy even sent me a photo after spotting a holy grail Jeep Grand Cherokee in England!
The latest sighting comes from Chelsea, Michigan, home of Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds (AKA “The Country Club.” Incidentally, it’s called this because of the generally relaxed atmosphere compared to the Chrysler Technical Center in Auburn Hills). The Jeep is absolutely stunning:
I love the dark purple paint — that was such a prominent color in the 1990s, and now it’s all but gone. It’s a true shame! With 229,000 miles on the odometer, this Jeep has definitely worn out some tires over the years, but the vehicle still looks great in these photos. That’s the thing about Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJs — I’ve found that they tend to hold up better than Jeep Cherokee XJs. That may be because they were more expensive, and were thus were better cared for over the years, it may be because they’re a little bit less suited to be off-road beaters, and it may just be that they’re a little more durable, especially on the inside.
Even my 260,000 mile ZJ has seats that look nearly new — that’s never the case on XJs. This purple ZJ continues the trend, with a nearly-new interior after almost 230,000 miles. Impressive!
A Jeep Cherokee XJ in similar condition, and equipped with a manual transmission, would sell for probably $5,000. The fact that this holy grail ZJ is going for only $3,900 or best offer is proof that, regardless of how much more comfortable the Grand Cherokee is over the Cherokee, the iconic styling of the first unibody Jeep is always going to capture more hearts than Jeep’s second act of unibody off-road glory.
Per the seller, Bob, this Jeep, which features a new clutch, spent most of its life in West Virginia; it’s apparently rust-free, and that purple paint is all-original. The inline-six apparently doesn’t burn oil, and it makes great oil pressure. “Motor and entire vehicle run perfect,” reads the listing. “Beautiful inside and out.”
Frankly, this thing looks like a hell of a deal. The sheer restraint required to totally resist this Jeep was beyond my capability. I knew this, so I incorporated a strategy that has been working for me: I hesitate as long as possible. This worked when my friend sent me a gorgeous $750 Willys pickup; I simply waited as long as I could to decide, and when I inevitably caved, the vehicle was gone.
The same happened here:
I held out for three full days, which, it turns out, was just enough to avoid taking ownership of yet another Jeep, which might draw the ire of my city. I don’t need that right now.
But man what an awesome Jeep.