©2007 Publications International, Ltd. The 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge gathered the GTO's hottest muscle car extras into a single $332 option package and slapped on the pop-culture cues. See more muscle car pictures.
In most circumstances, a judge commands respect. But society in the 1960s grew increasingly irreverent toward establishment figures, and "Here comes da judge!" quickly went from a sardonic catch phrase on TV's Laugh-In to a staple of the American lexicon.
In naming the newest GTO incarnation "The Judge," Pontiac seemed to be saying: "This car has authority, but like the Road Runner and its ilk, it doesn't take itself too seriously." Abundantly powerful V-8s secured the first part of the message; op-art graphics and bright primary colors brought home the second.
As originally conceived, The Judge was to be an econo-muscle Goat, maybe a pillared coupe in a single color, with rubber floor mats and only the hottest performance equipment. The Judge that debuted in December 1968 wasn't so severe, being instead a $332 option package for the GTO hardtop or convertible. But it included a host of features that cost far more when ordered individually.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. The 366-bhp Ram Air III V-8 was standard on the Judge, but for $390 more, you could move up to this 370-bhp Ram Air IV.
Standard was the 366-bhp Ram Air III evolution of the GTO's 400-cid V-8; an underdash knob now closed its hood scoops in wet weather. Pontiac trimmed a few bucks from the base price by fitting a three-speed manual with Hurst T-handle shifter (and by deleting trim rings from the standard Rally II wheels), but all Judges had the regular firm GTO suspension and wide-tread Polyglas G70x14s.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Despite its long list of go-fast features, the Judge's cabin was standard GTO except for the logo on the glovebox door.
Another $390 landed the new Ram Air IV with its radical cam and underrated 370 bhp. Restless at idle, weak below 3000 rpm, this edition of the 400 was a pain to drive on the street and a task to launch at the strip, but it was a weapon in the hands of a skilled driver. A close-ratio four-speed ($195) or automatic ($227), Posi ($63), front discs ($64), power steering ($100), and hood-mounted tach ($63) filled out the well-appointed Judge.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. A deck spoiler distinguished the Judge's tail. In front, a blackout grille was standard and hidden headlamps optional.
No somber black robes for this jurist, however. A rear-deck spoiler, blackout grille, and Judge decals
decorated the body, though the cabin was standard GTO except for judge badges. To kill any budget-muscle pretense, every regular GTO option was available, including hidden headlamps. The Judge performed no differently than similarly equipped Goats. It just did it with less reverence.
Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.For more cool information on muscle cars, check out:
- Pontiac ignited the classic muscle car era with a stroke of marketing genius. See profiles, photos, and specifications of Pontiac muscle cars.
- Muscle cars came in many shapes and sizes. Here are features on more than 100 muscle cars, including photos and specifications for each model.
- Muscle cars created their own culture. To learn about it, read How Muscle Cars Work.
Check out these profiles of muscle cars, which include photos and specifications for each model:
- Cougar pulled out of Mustang's shadow with the striped and spoilered 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator.
- Beep, beep! Make way for one of the baddest muscle cars of all time, the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi.
- The 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am combined sports-car handling and muscle car power.
- An all-aluminum, race-proven V-8 defined the rare and wicked 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
For related car information, see these articles:
- The engine is what gives a muscle car its flamboyant personality. To learn everything you need to know about car engines, see How Car Engines Work.
- Muscle cars wouldn't have much muscle without horsepower -- but what exactly is horsepower? How Horsepower Works answers that question.
- NASCAR race cars embody the muscle car philosophy of power. Read How NASCAR Race Cars Work to find out what makes these charged-up racers go.
- Are you thinking of buying a 2007 muscle car, or any other car? See Consumer Guide Automotive's New-Car Reviews, Prices, and Information.