Judge Dread: 1969 Pontiac GTO

Sadly beautiful flood victims keep coming up for sale after the rough few hurricanes the US has seen. Clearly a well-kept and cherished machine, this GTO is currently up for bid with little information provided. GTO Judge’s are very iconic and are easily one of the more recognizable muscle cars with brilliant colors, and unique stripes. With bidding up to $17,600, this Judge will hopefully be revived. Check it out here on copart.com out of College Station, Texas. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Nicholas Triplett for this soggy find!

Beyond the thin layer of dust, dirt, and silt, the engine compartment is quite tidy, and features air conditioning. The ram air hood is in place with its tachometer, and the 400 cube V8 has its proper ram air plate, but the foam buffer is missing, perhaps carried off by the flood. Upon doing some digging, I discovered some more photos of this GTO online, and it isn’t very good news. We are aware of it being a flood car, but what does that mean? How deep was she afloat? Well sadly this GTO was flooded to its roof line! So everything in this old girl is under suspicion, and in bidding you have to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario.

Equally as dirty and silt covered as the engine bay, the interior appears to have been flawless before taking a dip in the vast wild storm waters. Oddly there is a large zip-tie fixed to the steering column, but perhaps that is used to keep the keys with the car? With a lot of patience and soap, most of this interior could likely be salvaged and reused in this cars revival. At the same time, some of it may just be better off hitting the trash, and starting a new.

When it comes to old cars, most of us seek out a solid tub to build as most of the mechanical and interior systems can be added with little fuss. The body of this GTO looks very nice, and extremely shiny. The photos are not the best, but I did find pictures of this car before it was cleaned up to hit the auction block. It is clear that the car was completely submerged, although this GTO still looks like a viable classic that could, and should, be revived. It is unclear if this GTO is an actual Judge or not, but if it isn’t then this GTO is a well put together clone. With bidding on the rise for this beauty, what would be your top dollar for this waterlogged muscle car?


WANTED 1967 Chevrolet C20 4×4 I need a rust-free or easily restored cab for a ’67 small rear window C20 4×4. Contact

WANTED 1977 Dodge Dodge Aspen RT Peferred driver, super PAC edition, fixer-upper. Contact

WANTED 1958-1961 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite Looking for a rust-free Bugeye to fix and drive. Thanks! Contact

Submit Your Want Ad


  1. Gearheaddropping

    So I have to ask, because I really don’t know. How would one restore this car? I would assume it would need to be taken down to every last nut and bolt, each part needing a cleaning, etc. If you get to this quickly, before anything starts to rust, what effects will the water have long term on these parts if you get to them say, within the next 12 months?

    Other than parts like the dash padding, seat foam, etc., what would need to be actually replaced?

    Again, just looking for input.

    • RayT Member

      Just guessing, but I’d think wheel bearings, brake linings, seals, electrical gadgets (relays and the like plus, maybe the wiring harness) and all such items would have to go in addition to all insulating/padding materials. And yes, the only way this could work out would be to take it down to the bare shell and scrub the daylights out of it. Obviously, anything mechanical, from engine to window motors, would have to be gone through. Anything that requires lubrication should be cleaned out thoroughly and re-lubed.

      If the price stays low, this could be a good deal for someone who wants to take on such a monstrous job. Floods leave nasty stuff behind, and you wouldn’t want to be reminded of that later.

      • Gearheaddropping

        I agree. Being an old pinball guy, I can tell you that some of these older electrical components can hold up to water. I’ve powerwashed wiring harnasses from old pinball machines and some guys even put them in dishwashers.

        I would have to say that the alternator, starter, wiper motor would all probably need a good going over, but some of this stuff might just stand a good cleaning.

        I have a friend who bought a Harley that was submerged after Katrina off an insurance company for next to nothing. The owner had the leather bags on the second floor so they were fine. He disassembled it and basically cleaned the crap out of it. He took the motor to a guy who basically drained it, rebuilt the carbs and said everything checked out. The biggest expense he had partwise was having the wheels re-chromed as the silt that gathered around them damaged the finish pretty bad. Obviously the seat needed a re-finish as well. He still rides it today, obviously with a marked title.

    • Miguel

      What people miss about these auction is that it takes months to get a car ready for sale through Copart.

      The car has already been sitting there for months and a lot of damage is already done.

  2. Gunner

    Another victim of these unfortunate floods. Judge or not, it is worth bringing back although it will not be cheap if it is done the right way. I would say that we will see more of these flood damage classics come up. I would recommend to buyers to have your potential purchase checked out if you suspect that it may have been a victim. Especially if there is a large amount of money involved. The mindset used to be if it was a Texas car, then it was to the advantage of the buyer. Now you will need to approach with caution IMHO.

  3. Sanity Factor

    I wanna cry….this is so sad….

  4. Miguel

    If the bid is up to 17K I wonder how much the insurance company paid the owner.

    • boxdin

      Says appraised value was 50k.

  5. Jim

    I’d be bidding on it if it were not at Copart. Will never buy another car fro those scammers.

  6. boxdin

    All copart cars have a large zip tie to secure keys at the steering wheel.

  7. TriPowerVette

    Back in 1979 or so, I had a girlfriend who wanted to fit in with all the hot cars my friends and I had, so she bought a 1970 Formula 400 Firebird. Of course, the guys and I liked it, but it was obviously a girl’s car. It was bright Orange, with the Taupe vinyl roof and same color interior. It was an automatic as well, and had factory A/C. Really; a lot of car, and seemed to be well bought.

    One day, she brought it to me, and asked me to find out and fix the electrical problem. Once we got into it, and explored under the dash a little bit, we were horrified to discover that the entire electrical system was corroded. This beauty had been for a swim!

    The ‘right way’ to address the issue, was to do a complete disassembly, and cleaning/replacement of everything that even looked electrical. Since that was a project I could not undertake at the time, she just drove it as is (was?), then sold it some time later (after we were no longer seeing each other). Sad. Very sad.

    With the addition of silt, plan on a complete electrical (not to mention mechanical) rehab. Cutting corners will only lead to heartache later. The entire interior and harnesses have to come out. The moment you put current to a corroded connection, it’s like supercharging the damage. Ignore the pretty paint. This is a full resto (you might get away with saving the finish, but I’d want to know what was going on, on the back sides of the panels. Been there.


    The sad part is that this car will have a salvage title and every car out there from the floods.
    The sellers should think twice about the offers from the insurance co. and just rebuilding it to that of the condition it was.

    A car like this would bring double or triple of what they settled for and have a clean title.

    • Sal Monelli

      What’s the sad part ??? Would you want to buy a car with a “clean” title only to find it had been in a flood ???
      Run, don’t walk away from this disaster !
      A flood car will NEVER be worth anything close to what it would cost to restore!


    Hope it get saved BUT I’d run not walk away from it.

  10. Jermey

    I wonder how many of these cars wind up in Hollywood films? Does not matter if it has a branded title and not really needing a registration for regular use. Just a thought.

  11. AF

    Can we vote on flood car coverage? 1 person here against

  12. UK Paul

    How do these treasured things end up being flooded in the first place? If I had a nice car and there was a hurricane coming I would move it unless I lived on top of a hill.
    I don’t even live in the US and knew for days before it happened the floods were coming. If you live in a flood zone, near a river, coast etc it’s not rocket science?

    • rod444

      UK Paul: That would seem logical but chances are the owner had family and other valuables he had to move. Have you seen the freeways when there is an evacuation? You’re lucky to get one vehicle moving but trying to rescue another would soon be futile. At the end of the day it’s “oh well, it’s insured.”

      • UK Paul

        Perhaps in some cases. Maybe this is one of those times.
        With all the notice though I find it difficult to believe nothing could be done.
        Take it to a local multi storey car park?

    • Matt

      You would think this is an easy concept to understand. I live in College Station, where most of the Houston cars are being brought and stored in a field next to the highway. It is appalling how many were left to the flooding. Everything from Chevy Malibu’s to Audi’s.

  13. Dan

    Ok, I get that the bearings may need to be repacked, the engine needs a good cleaning out, and there may be some gross smells in the interior. But let’s face it, almost every part of this car was expected to get wet when it was new. Windows get left down in the rain, and the car is not scrapped. I can understand the issues with a new car and computers, but this old beast with points? If this was a car I was interested in, I would take the chance if the price is right.

    • gbvette62

      There’s a big difference between a car that’s been out in a rain storm, or driven through a puddle, and one that has sat under water for hours or even days. Also, flood cars are often exposed to salt water, which causes a lot more damage, then rain water does.

      Rear ends have a vent, that a drop of water might get in when driving in the rain, but will allow lots of water in when the rear is under water. You can pressure wash an engine, and not worry to much about where the water goes, but when in a flood, water gets in an engine through the carb, dipstick tube, the oil fill, and the distributor base. Engineers expect window motors, wiper motors and alternators to get wet, but they don’t design them to be immersed in water for hours on end.

      I’m in the Corvette parts business, and I had a lot of experience with flood cars, after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. Most of the shops I deal with, ended up with a one or more Corvettes to restore, that were flooded. It’s pretty amazing how quick things start to rust and corrode, when exposed to salt water. It’s also pretty amazing, where water will find it’s way into. I saw cars where the water barely got high enough to get inside of, yet the engine, trans, rear, brake and fuel lines, brake calipers, bearings, starter, and even horns, were damaged or showed signs of being effected by being under water.

    • Miguel

      There is huge difference between fresh water and salt water.

    • Dan

      Houston was flooded with 50+ inches of rain, so the leve of salt may be lower than you think.

      • Miguel

        This wouldn’t be a Houston car. It is too soon for those cars to be ready for sale.

        You can see by the windshield it is not a Texas car. The two stickers are missing for the registration and the smog.

  14. Robert B

    Good Luck to the new owner…salt water…ouch….

  15. dennis

    There is no way to revive a flood car short of stripping it to bare metal and doing a complete and total restoration with all new parts.

    • Steve

      I agree in the case of a salt water flood. I disagree in the case of a fresh water flood.

  16. michael streuly

    How can anyone say that car is worth 50k. It needs a frame off restoration that is the only way to bring this car back. I bid 50.00 dollars.

    • Steve

      I believe they meant that the car was appraised at $50k before the flood.

  17. Jim in AL

    I personally know of someone that was tasked with fixing not one but TWO brand new Ford Edge’s that went through Sandy.
    I can’t say what the owner paid for the cars but the repairs came out to almost the value of a new car.

  18. CMARV

    The salvage certificate is described as : TX – NONREPAIRABLE TITLE-FLOOD .It will not be turned into a reconstructed title in Texas , or most or all other states . Maybe a good export vehicle . We do enhanced inspections at my shop here in PA. I know it wouldn’t work here .

  19. Elrod

    Copart + flood car = trainwreck

  20. Jose

    If you ask me it has already exceeded it’s value. No way to bring this car back to it’s former glory without a total rebuild. After paying what looks to be at least $20,000.00 for a shell you’ll have way more than current value of a clean title car. But the big deal is this car will always have a scrap or totaled title!

  21. Oingo

    I think what the point is is that the car is done to the nines and labor not $ will be the big ticket. Someone who knows their way around this vintage of GM could quickly and safely inspect and strip as needed with the help of some lower paid cleaners they might make a buck or two as it should be worth I am guessing around 60-70k?

  22. Comet

    A flood branded title condemns this car to a track, or a parts car. Unfortunate.

  23. Scott L

    A parts car with a clean title could solve the title problem. But the flood car would become the parts car in the end.


  24. RoughDiamond rough diamond Member

    Playing the devils advocate here, it may be that the owner intentionally left the car because he had a “stated” or “declared” value with State Farm and decided minus the deductible it was a better choice to sacrifice the car. I remember when Hurricane Harvey had not yet made landfall, but the winds were whipping the coastline water into a frenzy. One of the Weather Channel crews were out filming and drove over a low bridge where there appeared to be a 1-2-year-old Audi sports car sitting on the shoulder. Yes, it may have legitimately broken down, but it sure seemed strange sitting there as the road was nowhere near being flooded and no other vehicles were around either.

    • boxdin

      The flood replacement program. If you’re sick of it, have good insurance, go park at the lowest spot and hope for the best.

  25. 408interceptor

    A flood damaged older car that was immersed in fresh water for a few days is not the end of the world people. It takes me about an hour to remove the dash on a second gen f-body, most of the panels are plastic and can be reused but things like the instruments, cardboard door panels and headliner will probably need replacement. The suspension wouldn’t need anything more than repacking the front wheel bearings and flushing the rear differential with clean oil. Flushing the engine half a dozen times with clean oil may be all that’s required to save it. Removing and cleaning the gas tank is not difficult either. The only things I would question are the steering column and transmission if it’s an automatic.

  26. Jack

    Wow, a 16k mile Judge, that is sad. RIP.

  27. Frank

    I had a 51 ford coupe that flood to the dash, within 90 days none of the doors would open, windows would not roll down, the wires in the seats, basically the frame of them completely rotted away, and the electrical, forget it , and most states you can’t even get a title to drive it. It’s good for parts some parts and that’s about it.

    • Steve

      Fresh water or salt water?

  28. AMCFAN

    Fresh water contains silt. If you get the car early enough it can be saved relatively easily. Gutting the interior and cleaning it. Flushing engine (change oil at least 5 times) DOING IT RIGHT COULD TAKE SEVERAL MONTHS OF YOUR TIME. Trans oil changed. Wheel bearings, throwout bearings, alternators, A/C pumps electric fans etc will need replaced. Break all electrical connections and grounds clean and dry and add die electric grease. Cars (even new) are made to get wet.

    If salt water it is more serious. It will start rusting immediately. Items you can’t see will rust and ruin. Under dash bar. Seat frames gauges everything. If the car has been sitting for months full of salt water (likely) the motor and every thing mechanical is done and will require major frame off restoration.

    As far as the car it self if it was worth anything the previous owner would have kept it (because he would have been offered it back for pennies) He simply took the money and (smart thing ) walked away with a fat stated value check. He will get his life together and maybe buy something he can drive now and not worried about fixing a flood salvage car that could take years to straighten out.

    Pretty stupid to hang onto it and not turn it in to the insurance and restore it twice to protect it from salvage title status as someone mentioned.I am sure the previous owner has many more important things to worry about like a place to live.

    For those bidding on the car wearing their rose colored glasses. How does anyone know if it is a true Judge? Does it have the numbers matching motor? Trans? rear end? Was it formerly a Lemans? Too risky. Take it from the previous owner. Walk away and keep your money in your pocket and spend some on your family.


      Are you calling me “stupid”?

  29. Nick M

    Something to note on flood branding. Most insurance companies will scrap once water has covered the floors. This is due to the cpu living under the carpet. Old cars don’t have this issue but most major insurance companies do not make a distinction.
    Be careful and buy NOTHING from Copart without seeing it in person and doing a full history search.

  30. Tom Member

    Someone asked above, how do you restore a car like this. one answer is “one piece at a time, literally every “1” piece by piece. It will take twice what this car is worth to fix it AND still have a flood title, so another answer is “you don’t”. I never say this but this one might not be worth restoring. IF it is a real judge as asked above with all of these great options and low miles….a labor of love stripping it to the shell is what needs to happen.

  31. 88V8

    So if it has a Flood title, as this does, what can one do with it?
    Do the bidders know something?
    Or are they planning to ring it, or just dim?


Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.