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400 Ram Air: 1970 Pontiac GTO

Many enthusiasts will quickly claim the Pontiac GTO as the father of the muscle car sector. It is a tag that it probably deserves, although others will argue that earlier vehicles sewed the seeds that saw the sector grow from strength to strength during the 1960s. With the demise of Pontiac, tidy and original GTOs can achieve some eye-watering prices in today’s market. The owner of this 1970 example talks about its originality, but it is a claim that deserves closer scrutiny. Regardless of the reality, he has decided that the time might be right for it to find a new home. You will find the GTO located in Lake Villa, Illinois, and listed for sale here on eBay. The bidding has hit $26,100, but this figure remains short of the reserve.

Judging by the tone of the listing, it appears that the owner is in two minds as to whether he wants this GTO to go or stay. It seems that he will be happy to stick to his guns and retain the classic unless the price is right. The GTO is a three-owner vehicle that has been in the seller’s care for two years. It wears Polar White paint, with the seller indicating that the car received a repaint in this original shade in 1978. The distinctive Black stripes were a later addition by the first owner to compensate for the fact that he couldn’t afford the increased insurance that a genuine Judge attracted. The paint has accumulated its share of small chips and marks over more than four decades. Since it has already received one cosmetic refresh, I would probably treat it to a second with little concern for compromising its originality. However, when we delve below the surfaces, we find the ace up this classic’s sleeve. The seller lifted the body from the frame and replaced the mounts. He then stripped the floors and frame, treated any existing surface corrosion, and applied a coat of POR15. He removed every nut and bolt one at a time, cleaned each one, and then reinstalled them. The underside photos reveal spotless presentation and confirm this GTO’s rust-free status. There are no significant external dings or dents for the buyer to tackle, the trim and original tinted glass are in good order, and the owner includes the factory Rally II wheels in the deal.

We’ve reached the point where the water becomes muddy regarding the originality of this GTO. The Build Sheet indicates that the first owner ordered the car with the 400ci Ram Air III V8, an M21 four-speed manual transmission, a 3.90 Posi rear end, and power front disc brakes. The Ram Air 400 produced an “official” 366hp, which allowed the GTO to blaze through the ¼ mile in 13.9 seconds. That power figure is somewhat “rubbery” because many people believe the truth resided somewhere beyond 400hp. The owner refers to the motor as original, but the photos reveal some obvious changes. The factory intake and Quadrajet carburetor have made way for a dual-quad setup, while the engine also sports an upgraded camshaft and roller rockers. The owner holds the original Ram Air air cleaner and scoops but doesn’t mention the intake and carburetor. Finding the correct items should be possible, but my instinct says that the car’s originality claims are compromised. Further confusing matters, the owner mentions the car’s original M22 manual transmission, while the Build Sheet indicates that this Pontiac rolled off the line equipped with the M21. It seems that potential buyers may have a few questions, so they need to hope that the seller is willing to answer them. He says that the GTO runs and drives and that its use is restricted to weekend outings.

It appears that the Red vinyl upholstery inside this Pontiac is original, and while the photos aren’t the greatest, it shows few issues beyond some slight stretching and discoloring. There are no rips or tears and nothing that demands immediate attention. The dash looks good, but the pad has some minor cracks developing on the passenger side. I’m not sure whether the Formula wheel is original, but the Hurst shifter isn’t. If I have any genuine concerns with this interior, it is the sight of wiring hanging below the dash. It could be nothing major, but it could signify that someone has been messing with the electrical system. If nothing else, I would tie them out of the way so that nobody has the misfortune to hook them, causing damage.

From what you have seen with this 1970 Pontiac GTO, do you believe it is right to class it as original? If the factory intake and carburetor are missing, that will cast a question mark over that claim. There is also the matter of the engine modifications to consider, along with the repaint and the confusion over the transmission. Those factors will combine to potentially harm its ultimate value. However, recent sales history suggests that the bidding will still have to soar well beyond $30,000 before it passes the reserve. The bidding hasn’t been frantic, with a mere twelve submitted at the time of writing. Do you think that will happen, or do you feel that the owner’s mixed feelings will allow him to feel relief if it doesn’t sell?


  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    This is a “Judge.” Needs to be said and if it’s real (despite what looks like a replacement rear deck spoiler) bidding should go north of 60K pretty quick

    Like 2
    • Des Member

      No, this is NOT a Judge. The stripes were added.

      Like 9
  2. Robert Sykes

    The Hurst shifter was a factory option with both 3 and 4 spd’s..the sport wheel was available in 1970 as an option also.
    As a side note,The Hurst 5 spoke wheels are among the best looking of all time and i’d roll with them forever,they look right.

    Like 5
    • 19sixty5 Member

      Hurst shifters were standard equipment on the GTO since their introduction in 1964. There were no “optional” shifters. Pontiac specified that the Hurst supplied shifter was made without the Hurst logo. Pontiac soon realized that the Hurst name was a selling point. 1965 and up shifters were imprinted with the Hurst name and all years were basically a Competition Plus with a couple of differences: the shifter body or box itself lacked the stop bolts, and GM produced shift rods and attaching hardware. It was relatively easy to change out the linkage and add the stop bolts.

      Like 4
  3. cold340t

    Is this car from cali? If so, I remember it parked on Durant st. at Frat house until they owner graduated mid 80’s. Not real Judge. But, very Nice car. Looks as good now as did back then. Would love to own myself. Had green 69′ RA3 myself at the time too, loved it!

    Like 2
    • David Ulrey

      Spoiled it by putting not just one but two Edelbrock carbs on it. Edelbrock makes many absolutely excellent products but their carbs do not fall in that category. I’ve owned 3 vehicles that had them on when I bought them. 2 were iffy right away. The 3rd one had a new one on when I bought it. Lasted about 6 months before starting to turn to cr@p. A friend bought a new one for his late 70s Chevy truck. Crummy right out of the box. I know another person experienced the same problem. Unfortunately everyone, myself included at first, sees the well known and respected name and thinks they are buying quality. Maybe some day they will actually make these to live up to the name that Vic started.

      Like 2
  4. George Mattar

    I had a Cali born 70 GTO in the mid 80s. Near perfect shape in beautiful Palisade Green. Paid $5,500 and cost me $300 to ship from LA to Philadelphia. Oh so stupid to sell it. How prices have changed.

    Like 1
  5. Bick Banter

    Yup, this one meets all the GTO restoration stereotypes – repop hood tach, rear wing, and Judge stripes. Someone had a field day with the Year One catalog. I doubt it was to save money on insurance. I’m pretty sure a Judge would have been classified just like a regular Ram Air III GTO, as it was just a (rather loud) trim package.

    Like 6
    • Mike Ehrmantraut

      Exactly Big Double-B! Nice blackout treatment on the scoops and the wing too. What a way to ruin a (otherwise) nice car.

      Like 2
  6. Troy s

    Good looking GTO, a Day 2 car under the hood, rest of it looks like ….a white GTO with groovy stripes.

    Like 1
  7. Rj

    I never understood why Pontiac felt the need to add Wings and Things to so many cars.

    Like 0
  8. Patrick LaBarge

    Anyone else notice the missing fan and upper radiator hose?

    Like 3
  9. Gary

    its been altered who knows how many times. not even close to original………..

    Like 1
  10. Jack Member

    This might not be a good originial, but a good restored car. The engine modications, the M21-M22 questions, and other items along with the frame off detailing shouldn’t be necessary on a good original.

    Like 1
  11. 19sixty5 Member

    The 1970 Judges in Polar White had some differences. If you ordered the WT7 package, you would get a Black spoiler along with Black/Red/Yellow stripes-decals. White Judges without WT7 had white spoilers and Pink/Blue/Orange stripes-decals. All 1970 Judges came from the factory with the blacked-out hood scoops and blacked out grille. This car would look a lot better with the Hurst wheel trim rings installed, but I guess it doesn’t matter because the Hurst Wheels don’t go with the car unless you work a deal with the owner. Adam, why do you believe the shifter is not original? It appears to be the correct round bar style with a T-handle. Just curious!

    Like 0
  12. trav66

    Edelbrock carbs are Carter AFB’s and easy to tune, GM equipment before ’67. This one has two on a 400, what a monster! 4-speed, disc brakes, and a rear sway bar (makes it handle like a go-cart). No wonder it’s at $32,800 RNM. If I had the dinero, I’d bid on it. This thing would tear up a 1/4 mile but eating up Mustangs and Camaros on the street could be a lot of fun!

    Like 1
  13. Jack in RI

    Why all the hate? I will park this in my driveway. I would love to test out the carberators at full throttle! All these Camry lovers on here…

    Like 2

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