A Look Back At The Pontiac GTO Judge

When Pontiac started producing its GTO, no other muscle car gained more popularity or looked more appealing than it. Being one of the best-selling automobile companies back in the 1960s, Pontiac surely did not disappoint the people.

The production of the Pontiac GTO started in 1964, which was discontinued in 1974 then brought back for 2004 until 2006. The classic GTOs of the 1960s and early 1970s remain a great chapter in the history of automobiles. Many classic car lovers refer to it as the first American muscle car, and truthfully, it is.

“The Judge ” is one of the most famous GTOs General Motors made under Pontiac division. Production of the Judge started for 1969 to help reverse Pontiac’s massive decline in sales. This was the period when the Plymouth Roadrunner got so much recognition in the United States as an affordable muscle car, so Pontiac brought out its competitive spirit.

Pontiac’s initial plan was to make their new muscle car less expensive than the Plymouth Roadrunner to encourage sales, but this didn’t go as planned. The GTO Judge ended up being about $337 more expensive than the Plymouth Roadrunner.

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The Pontiac GTO Judge Is A Fierce Performer

What else best defines a muscle car other than a powerful, high-performance engine?

For The Judge, standard power was a 366 hp, 400ci Ram Air III V8 engine. An interested buyer could also opt for the underrated-at-370 hp, 400ci Ram Air lV engine. Its engine was mated to a 4-speed manual transmission; however, very few of these muscle cars got a 4-speed automatic transmission. These could drive the car from rest to 60 mph in about 6 seconds. This was a befitting competitor for its rival, the Plymouth roadrunner, which had an acceleration of rest to 60 mph in approximately 6.6 seconds.


The judge had a maximum power output of 370 hp at 5,500 rpm and a top speed of 118 mph. The Pontiac GTO judge definitely started on good ground, and this was a very good scale-up for the muscle car when compared to the previous ones . However, it wasn’t only its performance that scaled up; its price also followed suit. The price of the GTO Judge increased by $2,112 in 1969 when comparing it with the previous model, bringing it to a starting price of $5661.65.

Other models also got almost the same specs, with slight differences in their performances.

The Pontiac GTO Judge: A Muscle Car With A Sleek Design

The Pontiac GTO judge definitely got a beautiful design, befitting the beast under its hood. Flowing lines, a curvy body, and a stunning interior were all present features of this muscle car. It, however, has some unique but rather weird designs on it.

The first is a tachometer on its hood: The time when the GTO judge went into production was a safe period, so many automobile companies didn’t bother putting a tachometer in their cars. GM thought it would be cool for the Pontiac GTO judge to have one.

A uniquely shaped gear stick: all gear sticks have a definite shape, spherical, but not the GTO judge. It was rather a fun-like T-shaped gear stick.

The Endura: without an iota of doubt, the Pontiac GTO judge has one of the unique designs ever made for any muscle car, and one of these is its Endura plastic; a beautiful nose-like shape on the hood which was exclusive to the 1968 judge design. The Endura wasn’t just on the car for beauty alone, it also provided durability to its hood.

Hideaway lights: at the time when the most common hideaway lights were pop-up lights, the Pontiac GTO actually got a true hideaway light, hidden in-between its grills. This has to be one of the most beautiful and rarest ways to conceal headlights on a car.

A funny emblem: its emblem “the judge” looks like one that a superhero cartoon character would definitely love to try. Logo designer William Porter got his inspiration from a magazine ad showing Carter’s India ink. A funny but unique emblem.

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The Pontiac GTO Judge Had A Successful Beginning, But It Couldn’t Keep Up

The GTO judge brought a lot of success to its manufacturing company. It was that type of car owned by the coolest kid on your street in those days.

Even though it was way more expensive than the previous Pontiac GTO model and its competitor, the Plymouth roadrunner, people again proved to care more about its performance than its price. It saw a great rise in sales in the year that GM first produced it. It sold 6,725 units in its first year of production, and about 108 units of its rarest design; the convertible. However, this was not the same story for the other Pontiac GTOs, as GM experienced a 20% decline in sales.


Without a doubt, GM didn’t just build a powerful muscle car, they also had a very brilliant marketing method. Even though every necessary action was put in place, it could not sustain the Pontiac GTO Judge for long. After its massive sales in the first year of production, sales started to spiral toward the bottom. When GM could not keep up with this anymore, it discontinued the Pontiac GTO Judge in 1971. However, sales of the Pontiac GTO continued till 1974 before production finally stopped.


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