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When it comes to Pontiac’s hell-raising GTO, a few years and models stand out in a raging sea of gorgeous Goats. Without a doubt, the early tri-power cars are some of the most sought after and collectible examples out there, as well as a drop top of any year. However, when it comes to the top-of-the-line, most in-demand Pontiac A-Body of the late '60s, nothing compares to the special edition GTO known as “The Judge”.
Hoping to boost slumping sales of their once genre leading muscle car, the powers that were at Pontiac decided that the GTO needed a new model to help perk up demand. What came about was the “The Judge” option package which consisted mainly of a rear spoiler, striped decals with blaring Judge call-outs, T-handled Hurst shifter, wider tires, a blacked-out grille, 3.55 gears in the rear, HD springs and shocks, Rally II wheels without trim rings, and the choice between two gnarly engine options; the 366hp Ram Air III ($332) and the very under-rated 370hp Ram Air IV ($390).
The 68,000 mile GTO still has its numbers matching drivetrain and the engine bay looks relatively untouched. The Ram Air element was off the car when Larry purchased it but was recovered from the garage. It will need to be replaced.
The option package sold well and helped the GTO move over 70K units that year. It would be the last high point for the GTO model, as sales would fall by nearly half in 1970, with the slow decline of the factory muscle car as the nation headed into the darker, gas-starved times of the 1970s. The Judge would sadly be discontinued in 1971 and the GTO's first production run would end in 1974 after moving from the A-body to the smaller X-body Ventura. However, by the time of its demise, the GTO had already made its mark as one of the greatest muscle cars of all-time.
After the original owners passing, his nephew took the car in and cleaned it up for sale. He even got the engine running and the car driving.
Larry Dillon is a muscle car enthusiast that just can’t get enough of high-powered Pontiacs. Like many guys that grew up during the muscle car wars, the GTO is the Poncho that gets Larry’s heart beating and his blood pumping. He’s always on the lookout for a good buy and has a stable of classic Pontiacs to call his own. However, even Larry wasn’t ready for what was about to happen to him one winter day.
“I was sitting at home during the beginning of the pandemic, with nothing to do, so I was searching the internet and landed on a GTO site. There I spotted a wanted ad from a guy looking to buy a 1969 GTO. In one of the replies was a picture of this amazing GTO Judge. The guy who posted the original ad never responded to the man offering-up the Judge, so I figured I’d give it a shot. That’s how I started the journey of scoring this amazing GTO,” states Larry. So he went ahead and asked a few questions about the car, and soon after the seller started sending him more pictures of the car in question. “I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it was a Starlight Black ‘69 Judge. I asked the guy for his phone number and I contacted him ASAP,” states Larry.
The Judge rides on a set of Hurst wheels which were purchased and put on back in its early years. The patina on the rims match the car’s outer shell. Larry added the redlines for that period-perfect look.
Turns out the Judge in question was bought new by this man’s uncle. Shortly after returning home from the Vietnam War, he had went out and purchased himself this stunning GTO from his local Pontiac dealership in Louisville, Kentucky. He kept the stealthy Goat his entire life, until he passed away from complications from Agent Orange poisoning in 2015. It was an all-original car, showing only 68k on the odometer. The family wanted to sell the Pontiac, but it was important that it went to the right person.
Larry could barely contain himself. “Needless to say I cancelled anything that was on my schedule, and within a day and a half I was on my way to Kentucky from my home in New Jersey, trailer in tow. I grabbed one of my friends to help me out,” states Larry.
When he got there, Larry couldn’t believe his eyes. “We drove straight to Louisville. When I got there the guy opened the garage door and there it was. A ’69 Judge dressed in patina’d black. Like the caregivers stated, it was a Ram Air III, 4-speed car with 3.55 factory gears. I thought I was in Poncho heaven”.
- The interior has held up well over the years and is more than presentable in its present state. Even the white buckets are clean and rip free. An 8-track player was a popular add-on back in the day.
Turns out this GTO had sat in the owner’s garage untouched for 38 years. When he passed away, his wife contacted their nephew to ask his help in getting the car running again. So, when Larry first laid his eyes on it, not only did it look presentable, but it also started and ran fairly well. Larry could then tell that the drivetrain was still intact and in running condition which helped a lot in the long run.
Larry then went through the numbers and everything matched. The Ram Air breather was missing but they found that stashed in the garage attic, along with the original Rally II wheels. “I made a deal on the spot and loaded it up on the trailer. On the way home we hit bad weather through Pittsburgh, with snow, ice and freezing rain. It was also raining in Jersey when we got back, so the car got a full load of Mother Nature’s wrath on that trip home."
The Judge had been off the road and in storage since 1984 which helped keep it good shape for its 50+ years of age.
Once back in Jersey it took just a little prying to get the GTO to run right, and Larry ended up installing a new fuel pump to help get fuel up to the engine. He also did a little work on the hideaway headlights, which were not functioning when he picked it up. Now the car is roadworthy, and Larry has not wasted a minute getting it out in public. “It runs great and a blast to drive. The kicker is that this car is one rare ride. Only about 25 Starlight Black Judges with a white interior are known to exist...it’s a pretty rare combination”.
For now Larry is stoked to be driving his own Judge. “It was always on my bucket list, and I got a rare one to boot,” states Larry. Future plans are pretty straightforward, as the new owner is going to leave it alone, keep it on the road and drive it just the way it is. We don’t blame you at all for that decision Larry!