Fast forward five years, and the GTO nameplate, now a standalone model (instead of an optional extra pack label for other Pontiacs), got its performance version. At the time, the horsepower war was in full swing, with Ford, GM, and Chrysler throwing in increasingly heavy artillery. Still, something was missing from the rumbling scene of smoking tires, grunting V8 roars, and quarter-mile bouts.
A referee to keep the score; an automobile to rule over the madding chaos; a car to Judge them all. Again, Pontiac found the answer to the ferocious feud of rear-wheel-drive turf wars – the GTO Judge introduced in 1969. Sadly for the GM division, their top-performing model came far too late to impact the sales reports. On March 1, 1971, the high-performance GTO was written off the new sales orders, and the Judge was struck with a lethal sentence.
1970 was the Judge’s decisive year, but not in a good way. Numbers were strong evidence against it: over 3,000 more Judges left the dealerships in 1969 compared to 1970 (6,833 vs. 3,797), despite several efforts from Pontiac to turn the tables in their favor. Even the 455 CID (7.5 liters) High Output V8 optional engine did little to gain any extra appeal with the public.
Rare enough as it was, this car also served as a showroom model for the first year of its existence, then became a beauty contest star on several occasions. Factory-equipped with power steering and front disc brakes, the Orbit Orange Judge has a Soft Ray tinted windshield for better viewing of the hood tachometer readings. The Formula steering wheel, AM/FM radio, and stereo 8-track tape player, add to the options package alongside the console, custom seat belts, and Rally II wheels with Firestone Wide Oval white-letter tires.
Laden with extra amenities of the era, the car goes under the hammer two months from now, benefiting from a meticulous nut-and-bolt restoration. Duly recognized through seven car event wins, the automobile bears the Pontiac banner with symbolic pride.
This Pontiac Judge combines several coveted features: the engine, the body style, the color, and the selected goodies we mentioned before. The top-of-the-range 400 CID (6.6-liter) Ram Air IV (the best-performing Pontiac engine installed in a factory GTO) developed 370 bhp (375 PS) at 5,500 rpm and 445 lb-ft (603 Nm) at 3,900 rpm.
As the lead star in a collection of nine Ram Air IV GTOs - with seven Judges - the Orbit Orange convertible is striking the gavel on Pontiac glory. Available at the Mecum Kissimmee auction on January 4-15, the rare Judge seeks to do justice to the brand that gave the automotive world one of its most famed breeds: the muscle cars.