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1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Barn Find!

Todd FitchBy Todd Fitch

Currently residing in Dallas, Texas, this 1970 Pontiac GTO “The Judge” appears to have endured many trials before taking a 30 year leave of absence in an Oklahoma barn. The listing here on eBay includes references to both 1969 and 1970; either eBay or the seller can’t decide if it’s a ’69 or ’70. However the “eyebrows” on the fenders suggest 1970. Taking into account the car’s good and bad points, the seller listed it as “Make Offer,” though you can click Buy It Now for nearly $20,000 if waiting is not your thing.

Originally Pontiac planned to christen this stripped-down GTO the “ET” for “Elapsed Time,” as measured in the quarter mile. That might have been OK, but “The Judge,” based on this skit featuring Sammy Davis Jr. on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, made a more memorable model designation. Thanks to ClassicalPontiac.com for some details. I can’t feature a Pontiac with the revolutionary Endura nose without linking to this fabulous Pontiac TV ad, one of two featuring Pontiac employees (the other featuring John DeLorean) punishing the supposedly indestructible nose piece with no apparent damage. Even the burly guy with the stogie can’t dent it. Brilliant!

Note the groovy “RAM AIR” knob to open the hood-mounted intake for when things get serious. Then when you seriously don’t want rodents or rainwater entering your air cleaner, push it closed. The original AM-only radio is gone, and while it may look like a subsequent audio upgrade removed a section of the snazzy engine-turned dash, that is thankfully the original opening.

The prosecution enters into evidence the fact that the car’s original 400 V8 has been replaced with this 455 from 1972 (currently stuck), and every inch of the vehicle needs to be repaired, refurbished, or replaced. Factor another $1000 for the Ram Air III lower plate and air cleaner housing. In this GTO’s defense, though, the body could be far worse, and a stuck 455 is no concern if you’re sourcing a date-correct 400. The car came fairly well-equipped with power steering, power disc brakes, air conditioning, tinted glass, and handling package. The jury is still out on what price makes this car a good investment. You’ve seen the evidence; what’s your verdict?

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Comments

  1. Robert

    its a 70 the 69 is bigger and is a whole different car

    5+
    • Tom Member

      68-72 all very similar bodies for the Lemans, Custom S, Tempest and GTO. 67 very different from 68, 73 very different from 72.

      2+
    • Tom Member

      Incorrect. Body for the Lemans/Custom S/Tempest/GTO were all very similar 68-72. 67 was very different from 68 and 73 was very different from 72.

      Huge Pontiac fan but I could never get on board The Judge thing. No orig motor is a big problem in my book. I don’t know a lot about the RAM AIR thing but I don’t know that ALL JUDGES were Ram Air Cars? Anyone out there that knows if all Judges were RA cars? If not, this could be more rare than we think.

      2+
      • Steve Visek

        Tom, yes ALL JUDGES from all three model years(including the 17 1970 455HO Judges, 14 hardtops and 3 convertibles, all automatics) were Ram Air cars. There were no exceptions.

        6+
  2. Jack

    Wow, you might have a better chance of buying $20k worth of lottery tickets. Such a shame, I love the 70 GTO. Every part of this car needs attention, ugh. Bring your wallet!

    5+
  3. Stephen Dycha

    69 and 70 same size. 69 had different sheet metal and bumpers but sported same frame. 69 had hideaways optional.

    13+
    • Dave

      Yeah I thought the same thing.

      0
  4. Pa Tina

    Judge Crater. (If you are under 60, look it up) Look up “Pigmeat Markham” while you are at it. You might learn something tonight.

    0
  5. Tinky

    What is with the carpet? Is that the pattern or rust showing through? It looks like it’s turned into some kind of blue mold

    0
  6. Dave

    Not a “Humbler”?
    That would kick it up a notch.

    0
    • Steve Visek

      No Judges had the rare Vacuum Operated Exhaust (VOE) or “Humbler” option. It was not available with Ram Air and ALL Judges were Ram Air cars.

      9+
    • Steve Visek

      Dave, I should add that in Pontiac advertising, the 1970 GTO as a model was called the Humbler, not just those with the VOE option. The two got specifically linked due the infamous Super Bowl commercial, after which the VOE was cancelled by management. The VOE was also sometimes referred to as the “Tiger Exhaust” option.
      The 1970 Super Bowl commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JNj9sEdPF0
      VOE option video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2JACXH3HG8
      Option available today from Waldron: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSEvVso21pM&t=28s

      2+
  7. JW

    The featured GTO is a 70, the one in the video is a 69.

    1+
  8. T Mel

    I’d say $35,000-$44,000 restored to #2 with non-matching. For 20 grand, not seeing enough room to do it right.

    13+
  9. Glen

    The vin tells you it’s a ’70.

    1+
  10. Jack

    The pictures shown are a 1970 GTO

    3+
  11. Elrod

    TMel got it right – there isn’t enough room for the asking price to break even. If you ignore that, it’s still one awesome Pontiac and a rare one at that.

    2+
    • Keith

      I think 20k is a bit much considering the engine is not matching #s and the entire car needs attention inside out.

      2+
  12. Jeffro

    Why do we always have to break even? So what if I’m “upside down” in a car. What if I really just wanted a 70 Judge?

    25+
    • Pa Tina

      Jeffro nails it. All of the BF Economists are speechless.

      3+
    • Steve

      It would be OK to be upside down if your dream car were a 70 Judge and you were going to keep it. If you were buying it as a potential investment, not so much…

      6+
      • Jeffro

        I just read alot of negative comments about “flippers” on this site. I come to this site to read about all sorts of cars. Just curious how many also enjoy reading/learning about various vehicles. I figure if I’m looking for a “potential investment”, I’d use other venues. No disrespect meant. Just my $.02 worth.

        10+
      • Mark S

        Wanting to always make a profit as an investment is slowly taking this hobby away from us lower income guys. And unless your skilled and have a lot of tools restoration prices are becoming unuptainium. Why does this always have to be about the money why can’t it be about the passion of the car hobby?

        10+
    • Dean

      I’m with ya Jeffro. I currently have 3 AMC’s to restore, all off frame. They all look like basket cases but, I got my AMX, the wife has her ’73 PC Javelin and we also have a ’69 SST for a driver.

      2+
    • carsofchaos

      It is ironic isn’t it Jeffo? People on this site scream about the da*m “flippers”, then all they can talk about it “it’s priced too high to make any money on it”. So, I guess the theory is that it’s bad if you are going to buy it and turn around and sell it immediately for a profit without putting much/any work into it. But if you take some time and do a bunch of work on it and make a profit, then it’s okay.

      1+
      • Jeffro

        I hear ya. I fear for the car hobby sometimes. Automobiles are more that transportation or a means for profit to me. It’s therapy for me.

        1+
      • DG

        The term “flipper” on this site as far as I can tell describes someone who got a car really cheap and then turns and tries to sell it for profit. They do nothing to the car, in fact some apparently don’t even take it off the trailer! Taking a worn out, but desirable car, restoring it, then selling it to get the cash to buy another car is something else entirely.

        0
  13. MarkEd

    Since no one else has said it “Man, I wish I still had my 70 GTO Judge”

    3+
  14. Hugh

    Those tail lights make it a 70.

    0
  15. jerry meiergerd

    I’m with jeffro, if u want it buy it, make an offer first.

    1+
  16. Jim

    Its a 70′ model, the blacked out hood scoop inlets are the giveaway. There are literally thousands of these on the market , spit shined, restored, ready to rock in the low 20’s, rato mid 30’s. This one has way too much damage, and important components missing for that price. It’s a 4grand MAX car. I grew up driving HO and SD T/A’s, and I remember when GTO’s were a dime a dozen, and Ram Air IV cars could be had for 1500$. This one is restorable, but by the time it’s done, your in it for
    far more thasn it’s worth.

    6+
    • Jack

      Lol, the black hood scoops inlets are not the giveaway that make this GTO a 1970, almost every GTO had hood scoops. I believe the black scoops meant they were functional, and the painted ones were non-functional. All Judges had an option that was called “Ram Air” there was a little pull tab under the steering wheel that let you open or close the scoops, depending on if it was raining.
      If you look at the front end of this model, that is the giveaway. 1970 was a one year design only.
      As far as getting upside down on restoring any car, spend it if you got it, you can’t take it with you. Not everybody likes getting upside down on restoring a car, but to each his or her own. Having fun and enjoyment is sometimes far better than hoarding money.

      8+
      • Pete

        All 1970 Ram Air scoops were 80 % gloss black.. On thing is the front grills are silver and not matte black… Its in the Judge option for them to be Matte Black

        0
      • Steve Visek

        “All 1970 Ram Air scoops were 80 % gloss black.. On thing is the front grills are silver and not matte black… Its in the Judge option for them to be Matte Black”
        Pete, only the scoops on Judges were black. On non-Judge Ram Air cars the scoops were body color.
        The grilles themselves were the same on Judge and regular GTOs. It is the grille “SURROUNDS” that were painted black on Judges, and Argent(silver) on other GTOs. If you look closely at the pic of the subject Judge, there is a little of the black paint on the grille surrounds that is still there, but most has faded or flaked off over the years.
        See the attached pics for reference. First is a green 1970 standard GTO.

        4+
      • Steve Visek

        Next is the mint turquoise 1970 GTO Judge.

        4+
      • Steve Visek

        A green 1970 Ram Air IV GTO(not a Judge).

        4+
      • Steve Visek

        Here’s a close up of the closed scoop ornaments on a gold 1970 regular GTO that does not have Ram Air. Hopefully these pics help illustrate the differences.

        4+
  17. CHRISTOPHER FOXHILL

    How about doing a drive train and just enjoy it how it is.

    0
  18. Steve Visek

    Jack, the black scoop ornaments were for Judges only, as was the black grille surround. Non-Judge ’70 GTOs had body-color scoop ornaments, functional or not. If non-functional they were open, while non functional had a body-color insert.

    BTW, the grille surrounds on this car look silver, but could just be faded, or perhaps were replaced with standard GTO replacements due to damage at some point long ago.

    5+
    • Kurt

      Steve Visek, you are partly correct on your hood scoop commentary. That part you have omitted is that the center section in the non-functional scoops (ribbed portion) were painted a flat black, not body color. The remainder of the scoop WAS body color however. Yes, judges (all Ram Air cars too) received the black grills (different part number).

      0
      • Steve Visek

        Kurt, thanks for the info. I didn’t realize they had been painted flat black from the factory. All of the ones I have seen were painted body color, though those may have been restoration mistakes. Also I have seen some at shows that looked black at first due to being recessed, but upon closer inspection were actually body color. Here’s a car in yellow: https://fastlanecars.com/vehicles/394/1970-pontiac-gto

        I am confused about where you say “Yes, judges (all Ram Air cars too) received the black grills (different part number).” If you are referring to the grilles at the front of the car in front of the radiator, the grilles were black on all 1970 GTOs. The grille surrounds were black on Judges only. Non-Judge GTOs had Argent-painted surrounds regardless of engine.

        4+
      • Steve Visek

        And here’s a one-owner car that is apparently original where they are clearly body color: http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/car-of-the-week/car-of-the-week-1970-pontiac-gto

        Could it have varied based on body color: some black and some body color?

        3+
    • Steve Visek

      Correction to my earlier post: “If functional they were open, while non-functional had a body-color insert.”

      4+
    • Shane

      I had a 65 and I did run across one Mopar that could beat me and was a Road & Track but he had her hopped and put a lot of money in it. But I will tell you something about hood scoops Chrome ones also functioned in the 60’s not all of them some of them Mine had chrome bars the black gate behind it. Of course I wasn’t running bone stock. Mine 389 was punch .030 and ten on the Crank. Pair Ram Air 400 heads milled down .010. The cam I was running with the 421 H.O. whigh was a .421 lift 308 duration Hooker Headers and I can push the 137 mile an hour in a quarter on a good day a high 10 second car but usually right at 11.1

      0
  19. Troy S.

    This worn out street fighter will eventually be restored to its former showroom stock glory,but for a while it would be more interesting with a warmed up 455, especially one that is made for unleaded gas.I have always been curious how an old goat would run with a 455 super duty engine but that’s just the motorhead in me.

    0
  20. Alford Pouse

    I’ll partially join in with you MarkEd. Wish I had my 70 Ram Air III GTO. Sold it before being reassigned from Germany. Wasn’t a Judge but still was a fine auto.

    1+
  21. Double R car

    Although I am probably a tad younger than your audience, I think I recall “Here comes the Judge” was Flip Wilson. Am I correct?

    1+
    • Steve Visek

      Dewey Pigmeat Markham originated the act, including doing it on the Ed Sullivan Show. Sammy Davis Jr. then did it on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, which is where it became famous. Davis, as well as Markham and Flip Wilson, each took turns portraying the judge on Laugh In over an extended period.

      9+
      • Double R car

        Wow, I learned something today. Thank you for the reply.

        1+
  22. Rustytech

    If you really want a Judge, why not spend $45 or $50k and get one that’s already done? Then even if you’re upside down, you don’t have the hassles of a restoratio, and you have immediate use of the car.

    0
    • Jeffro

      Ok. But what if I don’t have 45-50k. This might be the only plausible way for me to purchase this make, model, or brand. Personally, I like taking something rough and refining it. I take pride in doing the work and satisfaction in the end result. Not always about where you get…it’s the journey of getting there.

      2+
  23. Dean

    Well said Jeffro, well said.

    1+
  24. Ron

    I bought a ’70 white GTO Judge in ’72, black bench seat, Ram Air IV, 4-speed. Had 22k miles on it and I paid $2,200 for it. Kid that owned it lost his license and his dad owned the car lot where I bought it. Kept it for six months and sold it, couldn’t afford it. Wish I still had it… 😎

    0
  25. Ryan

    The Flippers are literally killing the car game. They take all the fun out of buying a car. Some of them will get a project. Put a few band aids on it and tell you it’s been restored or it’s original. You won’t know until after your purchase and have gotten a little further on down the road that you’ve been beat. It’s a cold cruel game.

    0
  26. Warrior Woman

    I’m with Jeffro – I come to this site to read back stories about cars I’d love to own (but since I am currently living in NYC such a thing is not feasible!), not flip. I’ve loved cars since I was a kid, thanks to my dad letting me “help” him work on the 1954 Chevy and the 1954 Pontiac Superchief he and my mom drove for decades; I still miss my first car, a 1965 327 Chevy Supersport, taken out when legally parked by an unlicensed driver who turned it into an accordion…

    But just as much as the stories, I enjoy the comments, I always learn something from ’em. Thanks to one and all!

    2+
  27. Moparman

    I think it’s a sad commentary on society today, when every discussion of buying a car (New/used/classic) mentions “return on investment”, “underwater”, etc. Our new car color choices are limited in part to the fear of “not being able to sell, or get a return on an “odd” color! Whatever happened to buying a car simply because you were in LOVE (or LUST w/ it)? I spent 25 years longing for my totaled first car, before I found its replacement. I would like to say that cost was no object, but honestly, when I found the right one (on eBay, no less!) I was bound and determined to snag it, and fortunately I did! I’ve spent $$$ on acquiring parts for a total restoration, that I now may never do, simply because I enjoy it as is! And I NEVER considered getting it for re-sale purposes! 🙂

    3+
    • Jeffro

      Nice ride. Glad you’re getting plenty of SPG. SPG= Smiles Per Gallon

      0
  28. Rustytech

    Jeffro. I understand what your saying but, if you pay $20k plus for this car, your are going to spend another $25 to $30k to have it restored properly ( unless you do it all yourself ) plus your going to wait a year or more before you can drive it. Where are you going to come out ahead? I like bringing back old cars too, but sometimes you half to consider the total cost. Does it make since? In this case, for it to make since this car would need to be about $10 to $15 less.

    0
    • Jeffro

      I get what your saying. But for me, I don’t have 40k sitting around. I have a mortgage, 4 kids, and a ex wife. I have more time than money. So yeah, I’d buy the car for 20k (less if I can), and take my time. It’s relaxing for me to work on cars. Spend money on car as I have it.

      0
  29. jeff6599

    Listen guys, go to the big GTO auction in Hutchinson this coming weekend. 15 or so Goats for sale, tons of parts. Then you can see who is bsing who. Accurate pricing will be going on all day long. See vanderbrinkauctions.com for info.

    0
  30. Tyler

    From experience, I can see both sides of this. I have a couple cars that I have kept for over 25 years, my 1980 4 speed Z/28, I’ve owned since 1985, & now it & my 68 Camaro SS are in need of full restorations. I always figured I had plenty of time, so they went on the back burner, & I built other things that interested me. Usually bought them cheap, built them to suit me & after I got my enjoyment out of them, sold them to finance another project I had waiting in the wings. Rarely did I ever make any money, I was happy to break even.

    Then time caught up with me. On Mother’s Day of 2016, I was struck with a medical issue requiring major abdominal surgery. It took several months to recover from that. And now, for the past several months, I’ve been battling pneumonia, & cant seem to shake it. Just walking the 90 feet to my shop takes everything I’ve got. So now I have 3 project trucks in progress that have barely been touched in the last 18 months, & the Camaros still waiting in the wings. At this point, I couldn’t get back anywhere near the money I’ve spent on the 3 unfinished projects. Nor do I know when or if I will get to finish them to enjoy the work I’ve put in them.

    As I have reached my mid 50’s, I wish I had simply bought things already finished, so I could enjoy them now.

    0
  31. Tyler

    This is my 85 GMC Sierra that was about 90% finished before I got sick. I did a 5.3LS swap & it was in the paint shop when I had surgery. It took me a while to get the interior back in it & all the little things buttoned up, but now I drive it almost every day, & smile the whole time I’m in it. Was planning all year to drive it to Cruising the Coast next weekend, but it seems life is getting in the way & had to cancel the trip. Hoping for next year!

    1+
  32. jeff6599

    Sure enough all 69 and 70 Judges were either Ram Air lll or Ram Air lV powered. No non Ram Air 400s; no 455s.

    0
    • Steve Visek

      Jeff, there were 17 1970 GTO Judges with the 455 HO engine(14 hardtops and 3 convertibles). All were automatics.

      3+
  33. jeff6599

    I do not recall a 455HO engine before 1971. Can you please explain what heads, cam, manifolds, etc were used to differentiate the from the non 455HO used that year. The only one I ever knew of was the 455 rated at 360 HP. Then the RA III at 366 HP and the RA IV at 370 HP. What was the 455 HO rating? Thanks

    1+
    • Jack

      Pontiac 455 HO
      1970 was the “D” port cylinder head as opposed to 1971+ “Round” port cylinder heads.
      The following was copied from Wikipedia

      “The 455 HO designation made its debut in 1970; Rated at 360 (or 370 horsepower depending on which vehicle it was installed into) & 500 ft/lbs of torque, it differed from the regular full sized car 455 by large valve heads with smaller combustion chambers, and a larger camshaft.

      The 1970 ‘455 HO’ was a conventional “D” port engine – to simplfy things, it was a late model year offering which was truly a ‘High Output’ version of the 455 offered from the onset of the model year in all Pontiacs full sized cars.

      1971
      The “455 HO” moniker took on a whole new meaning with the introduction of the 1971 model year;

      Intended as a low compression progression from the previous years Ram Air IV engine, all 1971 455 HO engines used a heavy duty 4 bolt main block, round port cylinder heads (casting #197; with 8.4: compression), “Ram Air” style exhaust manifolds, and a two-part aluminum intake manifold.

      The 1971 Pontiac 455 HO was Pontiac’s first engine to receive a special 800cfm Rochester Quadra-jet carburetor with specific jetting

      The 1971 455 HO was rated at 335 hp @ 4,800rpm & 480 ft/lbs of torque @ 3,200rpm (gross).

      The 1971 455 HO was available in the Firebird (Formula and Trans Am), and the GTO.”

      1+
      • Steve Visek

        Jack, pretty good for Wiki actually.

        A couple of minor corrections:
        1) The standard 455 in big Pontiacs for 1970 did have #15 heads vs. #64 heads for the 455 HO, but they carried the same #67 cam as auto trans 455 HOs. Manual trans 455 HOs carried the #68 cam.
        2) The 455 HO for 1971 was also available in the GT-37 and LeMans as well.

        5+
    • Steve Visek

      Jeff, for 1970 the Pontiac line had two 455 engines which were initially only available in the Grand Prix and the full-size Pontiacs. The YH-code 455 had 10.00:1 compression ratio and was rated at 360 hp @ 4300 rpm and 500 ft lbs @ 2700 rpm. The 455 HO with 10.25:1 compression ratio rated at 370 hp @ 4600 rpm and 500 ft lbs @3100 rpm. The 455 HO carried the XF code with manual trans WG code with the automatic.

      Partway through the 1970 model year the 455 HO was made available in the GTO. It was code YC(auto) or WA(auto). This was the same engine as 370hp 455 HO available in the larger Pontiacs, but it was rated at only 360hp. Though a very good engine with great torque, it was certainly not as powerful as Ram Air IV which was underrated at 370hp. Therefor it is not surprising that Pontiac cut the horsepower rating of this engine when installed in the GTO. However it now understandably causes confusion today.

      Also confusing is that the 455 HO for the 1971 GTO shares the same name as the 1970 GTO’s 455 HO. Despite the fact that the 1970 engine is rated at 360hp gross and the 1971 engine is rated at just 335hp gross(310hp net), the 1971 GTO’s 455 HO is a far more powerful engine, essentially a lower compression 455 cube version of the Ram Air IV, with round port heads but not the Ram Air IV’s stouter bottom end components.

      Also, the 455 HO under the hood of the ’71 GTO had a big “455 HO” sticker on the air cleaner cover. There was no sticker on the 1970 455 HO’s cover.

      Good sources for info are: http://www.wallaceracing.com/engine1.htm and http://vintage.mitchell1.com/PClubData/chassis/den73/V2D735165.pdf

      Hope that helps.

      8+
  34. jeff6599

    Thank you gentlemen. I have a 455 from a big car (Bonneville) it came with #64 heads and is rated at 370 HP. It fed a TH400 and therefore has a #067 cam. It was not referred to as a 455HO in any data I can find. The same engine (same cam, heads was rerated at 360 HP and used in the GTO and was referred to as a 455HO. Go figure. A somewhat downsized 455 was used in all other big cars (Catalina, GP, Executive, etc.) and was also rated at 360 HP. It used #15 heads which gave it 10.0 : 1 compression ratio. The other 455 engines above (Bonneville and GTO) had 10.25 :1 compression ratio. Whether the heads (chamber volume) or pistons (piston top recess volume) effected that compression ratio I cannot tell. Both headcast numbers appear to have the large valves as small valve units are specifically delineated in Ptet McCarthy’s Bible. I believe you were correct about the management wanting the RA IV to have the largest HP rating in the GTO line.

    Steve and Jack: you are brilliant Pontiac men. Keep up the good work. Now, tell me what you know about the M/T Pontiac hemi heads!

    2+
    • Steve Visek

      Jeff, check out the old 1970 brochures at the link below and you will see it referred to in most of them(though not all), especially in the specs sections.
      http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Pontiac/1970%20Pontiac/dirindex.html

      2+
    • Steve Visek

      Jeff, on the M/T heads I must confess I really don’t know anything. I vaguely recall hearing of them once, but that was the extent of it. I will do some research now to study up, but at this point I’m sure you know far more than I do about them. I know some stuff on Pontiacs in general, but it is really the GTOs I know best(and most especially the ’70 and ’71 models). Early ’60s and earlier Pontiacs interest me but I am hardly an expert. Perhaps Jack can be of assistance there.

      I shall humbly understand if you now retract the “brilliant Pontiac” man appellation you so generously bestowed upon me. 🙂

      2+
    • Jack

      @jeff6599
      I forgot about the Mickey Thompson go fast parts.
      Here is a cool link to read about it. There is an old ad listed that shows all the stuff you could buy.
      http://www.71judges.com/mthemi/mthemi.htm

      0
    • Steve Visek

      Jeff, just found this link on those M/T heads:
      http://www.pontiacheaven.org/Hemi_page.html

      1+
  35. jeff6599

    Ha Ha Ha! Not at all.
    Jeff

    1+
  36. Alford Pouse

    Did any Ram Air Vs reach production cars?

    0
    • Steve Visek

      Tragically no.

      1+

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