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Car Tales: Judge Not! The Pontiac GTO Judge Coupe Ram Air III

How many of you remember the counter-cultural phenomena of the late 1960s, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In television show? You should, if you were around then: because the Laugh-In (a twist on the hippy concept of the ‘Love-In’) quickly became the most popular TV show in the United States.
1969 Pontiac GTO Judge for sale
From January 22, 1968, to March 12, 1973, on the NBC television network, hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, it ran for 140 episodes. Among others Goldie Hawn rose to fame on the show, and John Wayne, evincing an unexpected understanding of irony, Tony Curtis and Sammy Davis Jr made several appearances.

The Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In’s influence was so wide that it even filtered into the US automobile business.

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Flip Wilson, on whom Time magazine bestowed the title of ‘TV’s first black superstar’, had a comedy routine ‘Here Come de Judge’ that was used repeatedly in Laugh-In. And Pontiac, brimming with newfound hipness, picked up on this for the 1969 edition of the Pontiac GTO. This would be known as the Pontiac GTO Judge, a low-cost GTO stripped of features to be competitive with the Plymouth Road Runner. Accordingly advertisements for the car used such tag-lines as ‘All rise for the Judge’ and ‘The Judge can be bought.’

As I said the other week, the Pontiac GTO, which launched in 1964, was considered the very first muscle car.
1969 Pontiac GTO Judge side view
In its time few cars had its mystique, street credibility, and appeal. ‘The new GTO does what so many others only talk about – it really does combine brute, blasting performance with balance and stability of a superior nature.’ So said Car and Driver magazine that year.

The 1964 Pontiac GTO, which took its name from the famous Ferrari 250 GTO which itself stood for Gran Turismo Omologato, was initially offered as an option package on the Pontiac Tempest LeMans.

And it became the first automobile to coin the concept of high-performance, low-cost muscle cars. While a maximum of 5000 sales was expected, the total units shifted of the 1964 Pontiac GTO was 32,450 cars.

And of course the GTO was the baby of a certain General Motors whizzkid – and legendary playboy industrialist – called John DeLorean. For without DeLorean’s wild cat attitude – and that of Russ Gee and Bill Collins, his GM co-creators – the GTO would never have existed.

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge rear view
Or set the standard for what was about to be unleashed on the U.S. motoring public.

GTO Judge IG
It was DeLorean’s marketing genius that was behind 1969’s new Pontiac GTO Judge edition.
At Beverly Hills Car Club we have one at the moment, a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Coupe Ram Air III featuring body by Fisher and finished in a captivating color scheme of Orange with Black interior.
It comes equipped with a 3-speed automatic transmission, Ram Air III 400ci V8 engine (366 HP), Rochester Quadrajet carburetor, power steering, dual exhaust outlet, Judge package (Rally II type wheels, hood scoop, blacked-out grille, Judge decals), GTO badging, quadruple headlights, chrome trim/bumpers, three-spoke steering wheel, rear spoiler, Cooper Cobra tires, jack, and a full-size spare tire fitted in the trunk.

Additional convenience features include power windows, forward-folding front seats, rear bench, lap belts, sun visors, center console, glove box, cigar lighter with an ashtray, courtesy light, Kenwood radio, and a driver-side rearview mirror.

In addition to the equipment, this GTO Judge comes with an owner’s manual booklet, copy of the window sticker, Protect-O-Plate, and service receipt copies. This sharp-looking classic American muscle car is an excellent weekend cruiser and is mechanically sound.

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge interior
The 1969 model eliminated the front door vent windows, had a slight grille and taillight revision, moved the ignition key from the dashboard to the steering column (which locked the steering wheel when the key was removed, a federal requirement installed one year ahead of schedule), and the gauge face was changed from steel blue to black. In addition, the rear quarter-panel mounted side marker lamps changed from a red lens shaped like the Pontiac “arrowhead” emblem to one shaped like the broad GTO badge. The previous economy engine and standard 350 hp 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engine remained, while the 360 hp (270 kW) ‘400 H.O.’ was upgraded to the ‘400 Ram Air’ (though now colloquially referred to as the ‘Ram Air III’, Pontiac never used that designation), rated at 366 hp (273 kW) at 5,100 rpm.

The GTO Judge initially had only been offered in Carousel Red, but midway into the model year, other colors became available: hence the Orange of the model we have.

Of the 72,287 versions of the Pontiac GTO sold in 1969, 6,833 had the Judge package. So there are not too many around of these absolutely classic muscle cars.

-Alex Manos, Owner
Pontiac GTO Judge buyer Alex Manos

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