Car: Pontiac GTO Judge Ram-Air IV Coupe
What makes it special: Pontiac’s GTO was built in generations from 1964 to 1974 model years. The first generation GTO was a muscle car of the 1960’s and 1970’s era. Although there were earlier muscle cars, the Pontiac GTO is considered by some to have started the trend with all four domestic automakers offering a variety of competing models. For the 1964 and 1965 model years, the GTO was an optional package on the intermediate-sized Pontiac Tempest before becoming its own model from 1966 to 1971. It became an option package again for the 1972 and 1973 intermediate Le Mans. For 1974, the GTO option package was offered on the compact-sized Ventura.
What made it famous: A new model called “The Judge” was introduced in 1969. The name came from a comedy routine, “Here Come de Judge”, used repeatedly on the “Rowan & Martin’s laugh-In” TV show. The Judge routine, made popular by comedian Flip Wilson, was borrowed from the act of long-time burlesque entertainer Dewey “Pigmeat” Markham. Advertisements used slogans like “All rise for the Judge” and “The Judge can be bought”. As originally conceived, the Judge was to be a low-cost GTO, stripped of features to make it competitive with Plymouth’s Road Runner model. The package was $332 more expensive than a standard GTO, and included the Ram Air III engine, Rally II wheels without trim rings, Hurst shifter with a unique T-shaped handle, wider tires, various decals, and a rear spoiler. For 1970, The Judge remained available as an option on GTO’s. The Judge came standard with the Ram Air III, while the Ram Air IV was optional. Though the 455 CID was available as an option on the standard GTO throughout the entire model year, the 455 was not offered on the Judge until late in the year. Orbit Orange became the new feature color for the 1970 Judge, but any GTO color was available. Striping was relocated to the upper wheelwell brows.
Why I would want one: I always got for the “Factory less-optioned, more motor” variants of muscle cars. They are faster, and in my opinion, “Instant Hot Rod.”
Fun fact: The GTO model was revived from 2004 to 2006 model years as a captive import for Pontiac, a left-hand drive version of the Holden Monaro, itself a coupé variant of the Holden Commodore.