Home » I Met A Jeep Fan At A Grocery Store In Germany. He Invited Me To His Alpine Restaurant To See A Mint 5.9-liter Grand Cherokee

I Met A Jeep Fan At A Grocery Store In Germany. He Invited Me To His Alpine Restaurant To See A Mint 5.9-liter Grand Cherokee

1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 59 04 Copy
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“Tolles Auto haben Sie,” I said to the random German man who had been following me in his 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 prior to serendipitously pulling into the same grocery store parking lot I just had. “Do you know this car?” he responded in German just a few feet from the entrance. “Of course!” I replied. “That’s the 5.9! The legend! The fastest SUV on earth in 1998! Yours looks good.” The man, beaming with pride and gratitude that someone actually knows about the car he loves so much, told me all about his Jeep and then invited me to the restaurant that he owns in the mountains. I swung by the next day. Here’s what I saw.

The power of car culture cannot be understated. It has put me in touch with people I’d likely never otherwise have spoken with. It’s a beautiful adhesive between folks in an increasingly divisive world. Car culture matters, now more than ever, and I’m reminded of its importance almost daily. Just last week I received a reminder in the form of an invitation from a severely-Bavarian man named Hubert.

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Hubert was driving in a silver 5.9-liter with non-original wheels (he was quick to point that out; his originals are back at his restaurant). The Jeep, which he loves for its giant V8 engine (especially giant to Europeans used to little 1.0-liter diesels), has been great to him, he told me. This one is his around-town machine — his beater that he uses to tackle Garmisch’s deep snow, and to transport supplies to his rental-property business and restaurant.

Speaking of, before we parted ways after a short exchange and a few photos (I was on my way to hike up a mountain), Hubert gave me the name of a restaurant he owns. “I have a Gasthof in the mountains. Come by sometime and I’ll show you my other Jeep!” he said. So I took him up on that offer the following day.

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Hubert’s restaurant, Berggasthof Wamberg, is rated 4.7 stars on Google, and is located in a seemingly utopian town called Wamberg. The road into the village reminds me of the movie Big Fish — it’s a single-lane that snakes through what looks like paradise: beautiful green fields, stunning mountain views, and ultimately a tiny and charming array of buildings called Wamberg.

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Image: Berggasthof Wamberg

The restaurant itself is classic alpine-Germany — lots of wood, huge balconies, and a rich history spanning well beyond a century. Back behind it, I parked my 1994, diesel, manual Chrysler Voyager in the lot, and then walked into the building asking for Hubert.

With a big smile, my fellow Jeep fan gestured me towards the parking lot I’d just parked in, then opened up a nearby garage door to reveal this:

 

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It’s a MINT, black 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 — stunning. With under 50,000 miles on the clock, gorgeous paint, not a spec of rust, and a perfect interior, this is by far the nicest 5.9 I’ve ever seen.

The 5.9 — also called the “niner” — was the ultimate hot-rod SUV in the late 1990s, usurping the 5.2-liter V8 ZJ models with six tenths of a liter of extra displacement in an era when there truly was no replacement for displacement. The Jeep could rip from zero to 60 mph in under seven seconds, and though that may not seem quick by today’s standards, back in 1998 it was a big deal. In fact, The Autopian once wrote the article “The 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited Was The Trackhawk Before It Was A Thing: Holy Grails.” You should check that out if you want to learn more about why this thing is so special.

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Anyway, Hubert told me about how much he loves American cars, how he’s able to fairly easily find parts for these 5.9s online, and about how he does much of the repair work himself despite running a legitimately excellent restaurant. And I’m not just saying that to be nice! Berggasthof Wamberg is an A+ German-food establishment, and any German will agree. Look at this!:

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Here’s Hubert pointing out the rare leather spare tire cover (with zipper-pouch built in!) that was only available on the 5.9:

And he showed me his old tractor:

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It’s an old “Holder” with an articulating spine:

What a world we live in. I’m now friends with a man who owns an amazing restaurant in the German alps. And why? Because we both love Jeeps. That’s the power of car culture.

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Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
11 months ago

My hot take: schnitzl is better with spätzle and paprikash sauce. Grew up with Hungarians, lived in salzburg for a year and have traveled a good bit around the German speaking areas of Europe. I will die on this hill.
I will take anyone who disagrees to my family restaurant Balaton in Cleveland and prove you wrong.

Nycbjr
Nycbjr
11 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Helios

you are not wrong!

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Helios

I stan a good spätzle (especially käsespätzle, but that’s rich enough to be a meal on its own), but I will take it either way! That schnitzel looks incredible.

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
11 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Helios

I want to disagree just so I can go to the restaurant

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
11 months ago

More tractor information please!

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
11 months ago

I’ve seen a 5.9 an in the same color twice in the last week near Waco, TX. I caught it right away from the hood vents that were pointed out in one of your other articles

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

I had a meal at the gasthof in December 1987. Did your friend own it then? We hiked a trail up from Garmisch because the road was not the best. The food and atmosphere were great!

Last edited 11 months ago by Canopysaurus
Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
11 months ago

Cool story, but dammit, these pictures really make me want to go back to this part of the world. Need some schweinshaxe and sauerbraten.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

Yeah. I’m missing out on doing the ‘Ring with a bunch of friends this year, and it hurts. German food is so underrated.

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
11 months ago

Any word on your Jeep kittens?

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison
11 months ago

The world really has gotten smaller. I just back from visiting the MIL in Augsburg then did a Switzerland, N Italy, Austria tour, stopping to eat one day in Garmisch – although not at that restaurant.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
11 months ago

Holy coincidence, I think I’ve been there before, hiking with my parents as a teenager. Sadly by the time we got there, after half a day of uphill-downhill around Garmisch, they were closed for some family matter or other. Hungry teenage me was not amused.

Matthew Humphrey
Matthew Humphrey
11 months ago

Who is Rupert? Was that an autocorrect gone wrong the first time? I am confused.
Was his name Hubert Rupert?
I hope so.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
11 months ago

Oh dear, and now it’s been corrected to “Hupert”. I know days like that, where the fingers just don’t want to find the right keys

10001010
10001010
11 months ago
Reply to  LuzifersLicht

In our hearts he’ll always be Hubert Rupert.

Tyler Anderson
Tyler Anderson
11 months ago

I used to live in Germany and loved your tales regarding the diesel Chrysler minivan hero.

I miss the hospitality culture of small indie restaurants and everything about Bavaria. Someday I’ll return to Stuttgart.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

No Gunther er David. You realize if this was a movie herr Tracy would be getting ground up in a sausage maker for Bratwurst? Anyhoo why dont you tell these people you meet say hey to my Autopian minions? They do seem to need guidance at the start before getting comfy.

Dr Buford
Dr Buford
11 months ago

“ severely-Bavarian”

Simply excellent

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 months ago

And this is why I love traveling in old cars. You meet great people, have amazing adventures, and experience different cultures. There are 3 keys to this:

  • Drive something weird, non-exotic, and not too perfect.
  • Do not travel in large groups. You will be more outward focused and more approachable.
  • Break down a lot. The most interesting and kind people will rescue you.
Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

True dat. We met someone who knew one of my friends when I took my VW 411 on the Lemons Rally across the South. Totally random—guy was at the Walmart we broke down at in the middle of the night as I was trying to do a plug swap, and recognized the Nerdie Racing decals from a friend’s communications gear company. He ran and got more tools than we had in my trunk to deal with my borked plugs, and I had a mostly running VW again in no time.

The world is hilariously small sometimes.

Holly Birge
Holly Birge
11 months ago

That food looks amazing! And yeah, the Jeeps are nice too LOL

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
11 months ago

now I want schnitzel. Thanks David.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
11 months ago

But is it ein Heiliger Gral?

A. Barth
A. Barth
11 months ago

“Tolles Auto haben Sie,” I said to the random German man

Using the formal approach – sehr höflich. 🙂

Did he get a license plate with ‘360’ in it on purpose or was that a coincidence? Either way it’s nifty. (For those who may not be aware, 5.9 liters = 360cid)

How were the knödel? I haven’t had those in ages!

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