Real Deal? 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV

Pontiac executives didn’t know they were creating a future icon when they launched the Judge version of the GTO in 1969. It was conceived to do battle with Mopar products that were equipped with 440 Six-Pack engines. As the car came along when the muscle car market was beginning to peak, production of these machines only lasted three model years. The seller of this 1969 edition tells us literally nothing about the car other than it’s an older restoration (1992). So, the photos are left to tell the rest of the story. This Judge resides in Big Cabin, Oklahoma and is available here on eBay for the Buy It Now price of $50,000.

The GTO Judge project was overseen by John DeLorean, who borrowed the name “The Judge” from one of Flip Wilson’s bits on the Laugh-In TV show. When you ordered a Judge, you first got all the usual stuff that a GTO would come with – GTO Ram Air hood and front bumper and a spoiler on the trunk. The only engine offered was a 400 cubic inch V-8 that came with Ram III as standard (366 hp) and Ram Air IV optional (rated at 370 hp, but that was said to be conservative). The Judge option was a paltry $337 extra, cheap even by 1969 standards for what you got. With 4-speed versions, you received a t-handled Hurst shifter. The only color offered for the ’69 Judge at first was Carousel Red (aka orange).

There were just 6,725 Judges built for 1969, most of them having Ram Air III induction. For an older restoration, this car seems to be held up, probably due to living in a garage. The seller does himself and the car no justice by taking all his photos inside the garage (with bicycles and other stuff scattered around) and giving us just five words as a sales pitch. It would be nice to know if it runs, for example.

The claimed mileage of this Judge is 64,000, so it looks to have spent most of its time indoors of late. The only thing you might fault on this car is that the right front fender by The Judge decal appears to be a bit discolored and the master cylinder looks to have surface rust. Options on the car were minimal. Besides the Judge package, the only extras were the 4-speed, an AM radio and front disk brakes. The sticker price all-in was a whopping $3,909!

The Judge would see production drop by nearly half for 1970 (3,797) and then just 374 more for 1971. It’s no surprise that Pontiac pulled the plug on the car after that. Hagerty pegs the resale value of the ’69 Judge at $75,000 in excellent condition. If you wanted to be stingy and say “good”, then it’s still $56,000. So, while the seller may be few on words, his price is certainly at or below market rate. Assuming this car is the real deal.

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Comments

  1. Cadmanls Member

    Intake manifold is after market and what pontiac guy paints his engine red? Be careful with this one. No words so no false claims I suppose.

    Like 49
    • Superdessucke

      Good eye. The correct engine color for a Pontiac of this vintage would be a light blue metallic. That seems like a pretty big oversight on such a rare and valuable car.

      Also, I can barely bring myself to say it, but $50,000 seems very cheap for a legitimate Ram Air IV Judge. I agree that this should be inspected very carefully.

      Like 25
      • Goatsnvairs

        The link to the listing says “1 of 239. Ram Air IV Judge”. That’s why people are commenting its not a RAIV.

      • SteVen

        The title of the listing in the “Today’s Finds” e-mail from BarnFinds was “1 of 239? 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV.” My guess is the author mistook where the reproduction window sticker said “400 RAM AIR 4 BBL. ENGINE” as meaning “Ram Air IV.” BTW Pontiac always used Roman numerals so it was always “Ram Air IV” and never “Ram Air 4.” The text of the article was also updated after the initial posting, and I’m not sure what it said before I saw it. Props to the author for making corrections. Obviously while some of us here are Poncho fans, the authors have to write on an almost endless number of different vehicles, so I can’t expect them to be all knowing on any particular make, or model, or in this case option package.

        Like 5
    • Steve R

      You are right, I think this ad is borderline deception by omission. The write up came up with the Ram Air IV assumption on their own, it was never mentioned in the ad. The seller is letting potential buyers fill in the blanks, each person that reads the ad will see what they want to see. I also wouldn’t base my decision on the window sticker, I have one from a 1970 Formula I used to own, it spent its life in a file folder with all of the cars other receipts, it looked different from this one. I wouldn’t trust this one as being authentic unless it was backed up by PHS. An experienced buyer should be smart enough to be wary, my guess is a novice buys it due to the shiny orange paint and 4spd transmission.

      Steve R

      Like 17
  2. Big_Fun Member

    This has the standard (for a Judge) Ram Air III with the M20 4 speed transmission. Ram Air IV would be an M21 4 speed. And, a 3.90 rear…
    Nothing on the window sticker to show a Ram Air IV.
    The engine looks like the same color as the outside paint! A spur of the moment decision when restoring the car?

    Like 14
    • Des Member

      Yes those are obviously D-port heads (number 12 or 13s) visible in that one side shot of the engine, and not the round port 722 heads of the RAM AIR IV.

      Like 19
  3. Nick

    Russ Dixon et al. The widow sticker you refer to makes no mention of “Ram Air IV” it does say “400 RAM AIR 4 BBL. ENGINE” which would be the standard engine. As run of the mill as a Judge gets basically, so it’s a 1 of 6,725.

    Like 16
    • Russ Dixon Russ Dixon Staff

      Modified article.

      Like 1
    • Ralph

      Ram Air is standard on a Judge, optional on regular GTO’s.

      Like 2
    • SteVen

      While the 400 Ram Air 400 engine was indeed an option on the 1969 GTO, it was included as part of the optional Judge package. BTW Ram Air was a part of the Judges package for all three model years(1969-1971).

      Like 4
  4. Ed

    All of the above mentioned. Plus – what seats are those ? No PHS?

    Like 4
    • Jost

      They are not 69 GTO seats, thats for sure

      Like 6
      • SteVen

        @Jost. You are correct, Sir! They appear to be 1970 GTO seats.

        Like 5
    • Craigo

      A next door neighbor bought a legitimate new Ram Air IV from his uncle’s Pontiac Dealership.

      I had a my second GTO convertible so he knew I could drive a 4 Speed. He asked me if I wanted to drive it so we both took it out. At the stoplight up pulls a 426 Charger who wanted to go. I smoked him in a brand new car which wasn’t broken in yet. I can tell you that the Ram Air IV meant business and you had to know someone to get one.

      Like 2
  5. benjy58

    No picture of the VIN looks suspicious.

    Like 7
  6. John S

    I am not a Pontiac expert at all. But…..that window sticker has the looks of a reproduction. Any Pontiac experts care to comment?

    Like 5
    • SteVen

      Yes, the window sticker is a reproduction, meant to be a “representation” of the original. Without PHS docs or an original factory invoice/build sheet, this car should be valued as a 1969 GTO hardtop with 400 Ram Air V-8 engine.

      Like 5
  7. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    I like these but seems from other comments this isn’t what it seems.
    Still looks nice though.

    Like 3
  8. Keith

    Not bad money for a Judge. Like any of these eBay cars don’t spend the money till you have it inspected or go there and look at it.

    Like 2
  9. Troy s

    Nice lookin ride for sure, plenty to like here but yes, I doubt that window sticker has ram air IV on it. I’m not seeing it.
    The seller seems to be a man of few words to say the least.

    Like 1
  10. BRAD DEDMAN

    Painting so much trim black is a classic corner-cutting measure at repaint time. Makes one suspicious of overall quality. One of 239 needs to be backed with facts. Window sticker makes no mention of hidden-headlight delete (exposed) which is a reduced-cost option. BTW the sticker is in insanely good condition, no?

    Like 6
    • Ralph

      Hidden headlights were optional on all GTO’s, even the Judge I believe.

      The window sticker is a reprint you can get from PHS.

      Like 4
    • Keith

      Wrong Hideaway headlights were the option.

      Like 15
    • 3Deuces

      For ’68 & ’69, the standard GTO grille configuration included “exposed” headlamps. Hideaway or “concealed” headlamps for both years was an extra-cost option ($52.66) known as RPO T83. (which makes sense since there are a LOT more bits and pieces involved to conceal the headlamps) I was a B-O-P dealership tech when these cars were NEW, remember them well!

      Like 7
    • Ralph

      At least 2 other people know what they are talking about.

      I think that people are confusing the hidden headlights with the endura nose, which was a deleteable option in 1968 only.

      Like 2
    • SteVen

      Good eye on the blacked out taillight trim. They should be chrome. Strange that they went to the trouble to black out the taillight trim but didn’t do so to the grille cross hatching, which was blacked out on the Judge. Unless the grilles are just really faded on this car, they used standard GTO grilles and didn’t paint them.

      Like 3
  11. JoeNYWF64

    Surprised that 2 racing mirrors were not std on the Judge.
    & why call this color Carousel RED? I see no red here.
    The later Buckaneer red was an orangish red.
    Does the firewall look partially “massaged”, or am i imagining things?
    Taillite bezels should be chromed – i think.
    The rally IIs/tire combo look great – no need for trim rings.

    Like 2
    • Glen Riddle

      @JoeNYWF64 I agree re: the mirrors and have always thought the English racing mirrors as seen on the ’69 Hurst/Olds and AMC SC/Rambler would have looked great on this car.

      The Judge had a bit of split personality. The original idea was a low-buck car to compete with the Road Runner. What happened in the end was an extra cost package on top of the GTO.

      If it had been me making the decisions, I would have done two cars, a low-buck “E.T.” based on the Tempest Sports Coupe(post coupe) to compete with the Road Runner and the Judge would have purely been a premium offering, maybe in cooperation with Hurst, with the package as it was built plus those color-matched racing mirrors, the hideaway headlights included, color-matched Rally IIs with chrome trim rings, and with the 428 HO, with Ram Air, supposedly installed by Hurst but a la the Hurst/Olds 455 surreptitiously installed on the regular assembly line.

      Like 3
  12. Richard hook

    I think that car had bias ties with red wall stripe

  13. Paul Hunter

    As I recall from my own “carousel red” ram air ram air lll Judge, the engine code was yz for the 366 h.p. and wt for the 350 h.p. I dont remember the code for the IV but it had its own code.

    Like 2
  14. Shane

    My Friend’s mom and dad own a real Ram Air 4 from new and it is a 6 figure car, this thing is hiding something.

    Like 4
    • Jim

      Agree 100%

  15. Goatsnvairs

    This is not a Ram Air IV Judge. The window sticker says “Ram Air 4 bbl”. Its a Ram Air III. If it was a Ram Air IV it should have a separate line and charge for that upgrade. Based on the orange engine alone I wouldn’t pay over $15k for it and start over.

    Like 6
  16. Erik

    Although this is an earlier model year, everytime I see one of these Carousel Red GTO’s I immediately think of the opening shot of the iconic movie “Dazed and Confused” and I immediately hear the song “Sweet Emotion” and can picture the GTO doing a “slow roll” through the student lot at the high school in the movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR7KwG5PE5Q

    Like 5
    • Al

      Thx for that! Reminded me of ’76 in my ’70 T/A cruising thru the HS lot prob with the Rocks ‘Back in the Saddle’ blasting thru the 6×9 Pioneers before dumping the clutch laying out some T/A radial rubber lol! Great memories!

      Like 4
    • SteVen

      Funny thing is while the ’69 Judge signature color “Carousel Red” is actually orange, the ’70 Judge signature color “Orbit Orange”(as seen in “Dazed and Confused”) is actually yellow. ust to keep the joke going, Pontiac should have done another signature color that they called yellow that was actually red, and completed the cycle.

      Like 6
      • SteVen

        “Just to keep the joke going, Pontiac should have done another signature color for the ’71 Judge that they called yellow but which was actually red, and thus completed the cycle.”
        Why can’t we edit our own comments anymore?

        Like 4
    • Troy s

      I watched that Dazed and Confused movie just the other day and that movie is full of nice rides! I keep in mind that the cars are in gorgeous shape, and why not since many of those cars were only a few years old. That Judge was what, five or six years used? Some of the cars were fairly new, the real high school hot rod was the primered out 340 Duster, at least for me. Figured a bunch of rich kids, or the gas guzzlers were cheaper than I thought in the spirit of 1976!

      Like 1
      • Erik

        Dazed and Confused came out in 1993 but set in 1976. Cars and truck in movie were 17+ years old. Some were obvious “survivors” whereas others looked like they were recently, at that time, restored. All the vehicles in the movie would have been AFFORDABLE as this movie came out about 5 years before EBAY took off and changed the marketplace from “local” cars for sale to a marketplace that became “national and international” cars for sale. Came out 10 years before “reality” TV and “TV auctions” blew the prices sky high. And came out 25 years before FB Marketplace gave a place for every “dreamer” to feel their “parts car” or “salvage yard scrap heap” was worth $5k – $10k because somebody may come along like the “reality” shows and make the car or truck into a $100k car that few could afford to buy except for those “new money” guys who make a quick buck on the stock market and quickly spend it on an overpriced classic car or truck.

        Like 2
      • Troy s

        Yes, I know that movie was made in ’93. I was thinking in the era the movie was set, 1976, how much would that Judge cost used in 1976? Or the white SD455 Trans Am which could have been no older than three years as depicted in the movie. What they were selling for in 1993 wasn’t my point but I could see my wording above is a bit confusing.

        Like 1
  17. Jost

    A “real” Judge would have a higher buy it now.

    Like 1
    • Ralph

      Like thinking hidden headlights were standard……

      Whats the saying, “knowing just enough to be dangerous”

      Like 2
  18. Rich

    No. No. No.
    Something smells here. Approach with caution.
    (I’d offer Tree-fiddy and not much more.)

  19. Roy

    I doubt that this is a real judge. The window sticker is a reproduction, they make them with whatever options you want on them. PHS does not provide a window sticker but rather the dealer invoice. One missing item on this sticker was the hood tach which was not included in the Judge package.

    In addition to some of the things already mentioned such as the engine color, aluminum manifold and wrong seat upholstery it is missing the cable for the ram air scoops, has wrong air cleaner, has an aftermarket radiator, missing fan shroud.

    The eBay listing offers no description other than restored in 1992. Interior shots don’t show if it has the Judge emblem on the glove box nor can you see any sign of the Ram Air actuator below the steering wheel. Not to say that they are not present but typically they are featured in the photos if present.

    Like 4
  20. John Oliveri

    The engine color alone shows me whoever did this car hasn’t got a clue

    Like 5
  21. JoeNYWF64

    Maybe they just had some carousel orange, oops i mean “red” paint LEFT OVER – for the motor & didn’t want to buy expensive pontiac blue engine paint? Or had some Chevy or even Ford engine paint layin around. lol
    I have a spray can of Ford duplicolor DE 1605 engine enamel & it looks just like GM buccaneer red & is lot less expensive too.

    The body paint does look good in the pics & i’m glad this judge does not have a vinyl roof.
    The TV & magazine ads & the jingle for this car are iconic – a great time for CHOICE of cars & great styling.

    Like 1
    • Glen Riddle

      I suspect using body paint on an engine wouldn’t wear well. The engine paints are formulated especially to withstand high temps.

      Here is a good source for the various engine paints Pontiac used over the years: http://pontiacpower.org/enginecolor.htm

      Like 3
  22. John Oliveri

    Funny story, friend of mine, real Chevy guy, has a 69 Camaro, gorgeous blue car, but and bolt restoration but warmed over, 454, punched out to 502 I think, anyway we go to a show in Westchester county, NY, anyway the Judges are all over his car, loving it, they leave and he assumes, he’s getting a trophy, well no trophy, cause his motor was painted white, he asked the Judge, I got him his own trophy the next day to ease his pain, and to our enjoyment, it said Wrong color motor

  23. Al

    Im color blind in my greens & browns, glad they didn’t choose either of those. I always wondered why camoflauge looked so fake & can pick it out of the woods anywheres. Recall the army sgt “you’ll be great in the front line spotting camo”. Oh….Well,…. yeah but …um…I kinda liked the view from back here lol

    Like 1
  24. Jost

    Maybe we should all just agree that whomever buys this cars follows due diligence and checks its authenticity very carefully. Maybe it is a Judge and the original restorer was more interested in a driver then correct restoration and used what parts he had. Still in poor taste in my opinion to paint a Pontiac engine orange, blasphemous to a Pontiac enthusiast…( yes… I know carousel red) . Personally , I am still leaning toward a clone but its hard to tell in a couple of ebay pictures. I won’t call myself a GTO expert but I did take a 69 apart and put together several times and built a 400 motor that ran well. That was a long time ago.

    Like 1
    • SteVen

      Well said.

      Like 3
  25. Goatsnvairs
    • SteVen

      @Goatsnvairs just gorgeous! I’m jealous.
      Love the wheels. YearOne?
      Great color, too. Is that Mariner Turquoise?

      Like 3
      • Goatsnvairs

        Yes, mariner turquoise, factory color. It also has ram air and a BLUE 455 with aluminum round ports and vintage air.

        https://postimg.cc/TL0QfxvF

        Like 1
      • SteVen

        Done your way. I love it! I especially dig the 1971/72 455 HO air cleaner decal.

        Like 3
    • Jost

      That is gorgeous! Well done..Totally agree with SteVen

      Like 2
  26. Jack in RI

    I couldn’t read the eBay ad, but I highly doubt this is an original ram air IV!

  27. Goatsnvairs

    Yeah, didn’t go crazy, very driveable. About 9.5 compression, factory 068 cam, 1.65 rollers, and a 3:23 yukon gear posi and M21. What it lacks in compression and cam it makes up in displacement. Kicking around the idea of a tko600 5 speed with the .65 OD and 3:73 gear swap this summer.

    Like 1
    • Jost

      Wow, that’s a great build. You are a smart and experienced guy. So many people put 3:55 or 3:73 with a 4speed and wonder why the car is no fun on the road ( I know.. I will be told that i don’t know what I am talking about by someone here, they have 3:73’s and a 4 speed and cruise all day, you guys know what I mean) . You built an awesome driver and if you do the TKO and 3:73’s you will be at the next level.. beyond perfection! So nice to see a real driver.
      In response to Jack in RI, the e bay add did not claim ram air IV, that was an acknowledge mistake by the barn finds poster.

      Like 1
      • Goatsnvairs

        Yeah, I’ve had many over my lifetime, when I started this one I wanted it to be enjoyable. Also did manual discs and added power steering. Recently hung out with a buddy who has a ’69 SCJ Fairlane, great car but a brute to drive. He drove mine and said it was like a “tight caddy”. Texted me 2 days ago and said hes putting power steering on his.

        Like 1
  28. Glen Riddle

    BTW it was Dewey “Pigmeat” Markham who originated the skit with its famous catch phrase. All three comedians appeared on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In at various points as the judge, though it was Sammy Davis Jr.’s portrayal that made the phrase famous.

    Like 4
  29. larry

    Look at the hood inside cut out the original ram air , bad boy , seats are wrong master cyl leaks and is not original lots of really poor stuff of it was “restored?”

    • Poncho

      Larry, I saw that too and wondered if anyone else saw it.
      I am thinking there should be an upper hood pan if it is anything like my 1969TA, or if it should have had openings in the factory hood to bring fresh air in from the hood scoops. I know the 69TA setup better than the GTO’s. The opening that is there on his hood looks very amateurish.

  30. Kevin Kendall

    Possibly a mean Judge,I’ve met a couple myself

  31. Richard

    Too many questions, I’ll pass…

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