The Pontiac GTO Judge has gone down the annals of American muscle car history as one of the greats. For all muscle car aficionados of the ’60s who thought that there could be nothing better than the Pontiac GTO, aka the GOAT, the judge was a delight. It was a smorgasbord for a muscle-salivating fan because it had everything. It looked good, came replete with power, and also managed some interior frills.
Being a classic muscle car, the Pontiac GTO Judge also comes steeped in legend. It debuted more than half a century ago and has been gone 50 years as well. Memories dim after a while, and facts turn fudgy.
So, here are some cool facts about GM‘s Pontiac GTO Judge you may have forgotten all about. They make for great reasons why it could make a wonderful addition to your dream muscle car garage. All by its lonesome self.
10 The Pontiac GTO Judge Made Everybody See Red
Carousel red, to be clear because that’s the color the Pontiac GTO Judge debuted with. A flashy, psychedelic name to a color that was more deep orange than true red. Of course, this was the time of flashy colors – think of Mopar’s Sublime Green which was anything but sublime.
The first 1,000 Pontiac GTO Judge were all made in this color and then more color options were added. By why have any other color when you can have red and flashy? As flashy as the name of the Pontiac GTO Judge.
9 Where Did The Name Of The Pontiac GTO Judge Come From?
If you think this was Pontiac’s way of telling everyone that the GTO Judge was simply the best and there was nothing above it in power, you’d be partly right. The “Judge” bit came from the ’60s comedy show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.
A song, sung in 1968 by soul musician Dewey “Pigmeat” Markham had the repetitive lyrics, “here comes the judge”. And it ended up becoming a catchphrase on the show and rose to the stature of a pop culture phrase in America. John DeLorean decided this would do and the judge was so named.
8th The Pontiac GTO Judge Was Not All That Pricey
The GTO Judge debuted in 1968 as a ’69 model and was, in part, inspired by the success of the Plymouth Road Runner. So the Pontiac GTO Judge was amazing and did not carry as many fripperies as the GTO.
But it looked so good on the outside, so upscale but with contrasting brutish power, that no one could take their eyes off it. Plus, at just $337 over and above the price of a normal GTO, the judge was infinitely more. In every way possible.
7 But It Was Bursting With Power
The Pontiac GTO may have looked refined, like a gentleman but at heart, it remained a ruffian. The GTO was not lacking in power and bore a 6.6-liter V8 that made 350 horses. But the Pontiac GTO Judge went several steps ahead and did so by breathing cold.
The slightly modified Ram-Air III engine added cold air induction to the mix, taking the horsepower up to 366. If you decided to spend another $390, on top of the Judge package that is, you got the Ram Air IV that made 370 horses officially. More in reality.
6 The Logo Came Psychedelic Too
The Pontiac GT Judge was not shy in power, prowess, or preening. Not only did it come in bright and come-hither colors, but the Logo was also as in your face as it could get. Logo Designer William Porter made it and his inspirations was also a bit unlikely.
Porter later said he drew the Judge logo from a magazine ad that showed Carter’s India Ink although he did not specify which ad. Either way, we are glad for the inspiration and the logo because it suited the judge perfectly.
5 The Rarest Pontiac GTO Judge Was A Convertible
In the ’60s, when you got a muscle car, you wanted one with a solid roof above your head. The kind of power muscle cars made was frightening and in case of a crash, skid, or roll, having head protection was always a good idea. But even so, some convertibles were made.
In 1969, only 108 Pontiac GTO Judge left the assembly lines minus a roof, as convertibles. And these are some very rare and extremely expensive beasts today. In 2010, one of these sold for $620,000. That was 11 years ago.
4 The End Of The Pontiac GTO Judge
Despite being a beautiful car, the ’70s were not a kind of decade to be a muscle car in. Spiraling sales brought an end to the Pontiac GTO Judge and by 1971, it took its last bow and rapped its last gavel. The highest number of Pontiac GTO judges were made in 1969 and by 1971, the numbers had tapered, alarmingly.
Only 374 Pontiac GTO judges sold for what would be its curtain call of a production year, and only 17 of these were convertibles. But in the classic car market, the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge is still king. The 1971 models mostly sell under $100,000.
3 The Iconic Hurst T-Handle
Each car comes with some special feature, one that makes it iconic, in a less-than-glaring way. For the Pontiac GTO Judge, one of these special features was found inside the car, with a Hurst T-handle shifter.
Since the Pontiac GTO Judge came standard with a three-speed manual transmission and it was an all-out muscle car, it had to have something muscular on the inside as well to prove its worth. The chromed-up T-Handle added so much to the insides of the Pontiac GTO Judge.
2 The Pontiac GTO Judge Bore A Strange Hood Ornament
The ’60s were not a very safe period in the automobile industry and most cars lacked even the tachometer. But the Pontiac GTO Judge had one, although it had one on the outside mostly because everyone basically just listened to the engine and changed gears.
What good did a tachometer do to the driver when it lay on the hood of the car, we do not know. But somehow, it looked appealing and came with rather aggressive fairings, making the Pontiac GTO Judge look even beastlier.
1 There Aren’t Too Many Pontiac GTO Judges Around
The most number of Pontiac GTO judges made was in 1969. And even then, only 6,833 were made, out of a total of 72,287 GTOs on the whole. By 1971, the number had halved, and only 3,848 Pontiac GTO judges were made and sold.
By 1971, sales were made and only 374 of the GTOs were judges. This puts the number at 11,055 on the whole so the Pontiac GTO Judge is a rare but not elusive beast. It’s likely to command decent prices at the classic car market.
Sources: TheAtlantaJournalConstitution, Classic.com