Judge Tribute: 1969 Pontiac GTO

Whether you call them clones, copies, or tributes, there are some people in the classic car hobby that feel they are almost blasphemous. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are cars that at first glance appear to be high-dollar, rare, or significant, but are in reality tributes. The car seen here most likely started life as a 1969 Pontiac LeMans or GTO and now appears to be a highly desirable Judge model. It can be found for sale here on eBay with a current bid of $28,800. Located in Marseilles, Illinois, we’d love to get your opinion on clones. Do they increase or decrease the value of the real deal? Would it bother you knowing you weren’t really driving your dream car? Have a closer look at this one and let us know what you think.

Like the rest of the car, the engine compartment is really clean. The unmistakable light blue Pontiac block is nestled in place and looks good. The seller says the 400 cubic inch V8 was “overhauled” in 2009. It is mated to a turbo 400 transmission and exhaust gasses exit through Flowmaster mufflers.

The ad doesn’t say much about the interior other than the seats and dash are in great shape, which is fairly evident from the photos. It is a little hard to tell what may be original equipment and what may have been replaced, but overall the presentation is decent.

As with the engine compartment, the undercarriage is really clean. The seller has several photos in the ad showing the suspension and frame along with one spot of rust. Hopefully, the rot hasn’t infiltrated more of the body.

Overall, this is a really nice car that any Pontiac fan should be proud to drive. Most people won’t assume this car is a clone or tribute and the new owner won’t have to tell anyone if they don’t want to. So, what is your opinion of tribute cars? If they are as nice as this one, are you a fan?

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  1. Bud Lee

    At least a ” tribute ” doesn’t have to be a ” garage queen ” .

    Like 35
    • Big_Fun Member

      Love to have this…to drive. Nice thing about Pontiacs is that you have PHS. They can fax the invoice on this car to any potential buyers, so you know what you are buying.

      Like 4
    • Keith Stahl

      Our Mustang Club was lining up for a parade and a young member was kinda down because he had a v6. I told him it didn’t matter what was in the car what mattered was he was in the parade and enjoying himself. I have no problems with clones as long as they don’t misrepresent. Enjoy your ride no matter what you have.

  2. Ralph

    Looks very nice. Tribute cars are fine with me as long as everyone is honest when it comes time to pass it to a new owner.
    I do not think that tribute cars have any effect on the prices of the genuine cars. Example: you can buy a pair of NIKE shoes, or you can buy a pair of NIKE fake knock off shoes. The pair of fake NIKE shoes will never decrease the value of the genuine item. NIKE also will never lower their selling price to compete with the cheaper fake shoes.
    Like Bud says, you can drive a tribute and enjoy it. Without your butthole puckering each time you encounter a possible risk as you travel down the road. Not much worse than having a sweet ride and feeling anxiety about using it for what it was built for.
    Sort of wish I had the ability to buy this one here. But truthfully I would still get uptight driving it where I live. (40% of my state has no auto insurance.) And the percentage of idiots in general tends to be at least double that number. It sucks to share the road with idiots. But they make America great, so guess it’s up to God to cull the herd…
    Very nice looking car.

    Like 26
  3. Angrymike

    As a person that drives his cars, “tribute” or anything else you want to call them are great. In fact I’d rather have a copy, to drive the wheels off of.

    Like 24
  4. Mike

    caveat emptor….

    Like 5
  5. Jost

    Agree with Ralph and Bud. I have no problem at all with a clone as long as the owner does not state its the real deal. If purchasing a car it is up to the buyer to make certain that the car checks out because not everyone is honest. But this seller is and its a real nice car that can be driven and enjoyed and kept locked up because it is worth to much to chance driving it. I would not mind having it at all…but I think that I would get a vanity place that said “clone”. Only those in the know would understand it anyway. Maybe fkjudge.

    Like 7
    • Ralph

      Josh I wonder if fkjudge would go over well with the law enforcement types though.
      But it’s fun to wonder about what the DMV may allow you to get away with putting on your tag.

      • Jost

        Lol, I didn’t think of that. My mind was fake judge..

        Like 3
  6. Chris

    No matter what you call it , its your ride ,there will always be naysayers. Who cares what they say . All cars should be enjoyed . A lot less to repair also . Most people who criticize do not have there own ride or are jealous of your “Tribute”

    Like 5
  7. john hugh

    decent car,,wrong ft sway bar..rear bar ?? 12 bolt rear ??

    • Chris


      Like 1
    • Jason

      Not all judges had a 12 bolt rear, if thats what you’re saying.

      • Steve R

        Pontiac only installed 12 bolts in 70-72 A-body’s equipped with 455’s.

        Steve R

        Like 1
  8. Vince H

    I saw a 69 Trans Am convertible at a show near me. I had never seen one and knew there were only 8 made. I asked if it was real. Owner said no. Most people walked by it not knowing how rare the real thing is. { am okay with clones as long as they stay that way.

    Like 5
    • Rick

      In 2019 I was at a car show in downtown Port Huron, Michigan, when I saw a ’71 Judge convertible. At first I couldn’t believe it, ’cause there were only 17 of them ever produced. However, the description on the sign in front of the car said the car was a clone, which is what I had quickly suspected. Still, the car looked great.

      Like 3
  9. John Lesperance

    I always thought that the “Judge” was orange, at least the ones that I have seen which was very few.

    Like 1
    • Larry D

      The orange you refer to on the ’69 GTO Judges was actually called Carousel Red. And that was the color that Pontiac promoted for them. I even worked at a grocery store as a teenager in 1969 and an employee there bought a new Carousel Red Judge. But they were available in other colors as well. You just didn’t see them too much.

      By the way, the color Carousel Red was also used on ’69 Camaros. On them, it was called Hugger Orange! Go figure.

      Like 6
      • Phlathead Phil

        And there you have it.

        I remember seeing one or two back in the day.

    • Jack in RI

      1970 GTO Judge had Orbit Orange ,
      Carousel Red was 1969 color

      Like 3
  10. Larry D

    Well, let me relate my personal experience with the “real deal” versus a replica. In 1994, I bought a ’32 Ford Tudor street rod from the man who had built it a couple of years earlier. I loved that car and was blown away that I was actually driving around in a 62 year-old car!

    I attended the inaugural Good Guys car show in the summer of ’94 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was a great and fun event. During the show, another participant approached me about a possible trade. He had a fiberglass ’33 Ford 3-window coupe that had recently been finished. It was a Wescott body and had all of the newest trick items on it. It was a state-of- the-art street rod for 1994. He offered a straight-up trade for my car. And I have to admit I did spend a long time smoking his car over and considering trading.

    By the end of the day, he came back to where I was and asked if I had decided to trade with him. I told him it was a tough decision and I would need a couple of days to think about it. He didn’t really like that but he agreed to let me do it.

    The next day, Monday, I drove my ’32 to work. On my way home, I stopped at a convenience store to put gas in it. As usual, a crowd gathered around my car looking at it. Then, one of them asked me if this was a real ’32 or a “kit car” as he called it.

    Suddenly, that comment hit me like a ton of bricks. I proudly told him that this was a real ’32 made in 1932, not a kit car. I realized right then that if I traded for that fiberglass ’33 coupe, I would have to answer that question a lot and would have to say it was a replica, not the real deal.

    And I realized then that I didn’t want to have a car like that. So, that one man made my decision for me. I kept my ’32. And I kept it for 20 years!!

    Like 15
    • larry morgan

      steel is real glad you kept it

      Like 1
  11. Ron S

    The VIN doesn’t determine if it is a JUDGE–It’s the motor VIN starting with
    242 is GTO JUDGE is also 242

    Like 2
    • Ronald Simpson

      Ron S…Ron S here…no kidding! Where on the motor do you find the stamping you are referring to. I used to have a 69 Judge, and I still have the engine. I want to see if I can locate what you are talking about.

      • Steve R

        You can find that information with a quick Google search. It will show pictures and tell you what to look for, it will also give tips as to tell the difference between authentic and restamped blocks.

        Steve R

      • Greg Goodwin

        Ronald Simpson, any thoughts of selling the motor? I have a 69 Ram Air 3 GTO but it has a late 70’s block in it. I do have the 48 heads at least but need a block, engine, ??

  12. Doug

    Judge’s had “Judge” emblem on the glove box

    • Jason

      WRONG DOUG! Not ALL Judges had the glove box emblem. Just like not all Judges had the hood tach! Nor were all Judges Carousel red!

      Like 2
  13. Jason

    MONTANA! Problem is its NOT highly desirable because she is still a Lemans or Tempest and not a real goat! Still a nice car though.

  14. Troy s

    Driving the car you’d never know it was a phony, plenty of hard acceleration and ear candy coming out of the ugraded exhaust and open air filter lid. So what really, as long as its not being passed as an original(expensive) GTO Fudge. Tributes, day two street cruisers, the street/strip cars all built out of lesser models, you can do whatever you want with upgrades and so forth without screwing up a rare and very expensive original.
    No, Im not a falling over drunk fan of the Judge or other stripe and decals muscle cars. I really like it under the hood and the interior is fine, not digging the paint color. Make my GTO a non-Judge RA IV with rally II’s, 4 speed, and solid gearing. White, blue, or blue with a white hood.

    Like 3
  15. Greybair

    I have no issue with clones, or tributes as long as they are sold or described that way. I knew a man that sold some Oldsmobile 442, that were actually Olds Cutlass. He pulled the dash and changed the fender tag on them.

    Like 2
  16. JONATHAN Gibson

    Tell it as it is. It is downright and blatant fraud, especially if the wording is used. At the very most, maybe striping or wordless decals could be applied to simulate a model. The concept of “clone” or “tribute” should be outlawed or at the very least frowned upon. Take sneakers or apparel for example. The authorities will seize them. Just my opinion…. I’m not wild about fake breasts either.

    Like 2
    • Adam

      No such thing as fake breasts. There is real, and then there is real expensive ……

      Like 11
    • Jason

      Gibson, get over yourself. Good grief. This site is for real car guys/gals.

      Like 1
  17. Ron S

    So if you have a JUDGE emblem on glove box that is what makes it a JUDGE.
    It is still the engine that makes it a JUDGE, not anything else.

  18. John Oliveri

    If the car has a 242 in the beginning of the vin# it’s a GTO, just de Judge it, take off all the fake stuff and the car is less suspect, if it’s a cloned Lemans or Tempest it’s not worth the asking

  19. Doug

    I can appreciate the comments here supporting the idea behind so-called tribute cars. However, to me there is a downside that isn’t considered. I think a LeMans is a damn nice car in it’s own right, and the few that are left will eventually become a GTO and/or a Judge. I think that’s kind of sad.

    It’s gotten to where you very rarely see a ‘regular’ Tempest, LeMans, Chevelle, Skylark, Cutlass or Firebird at a show. It’s as though every one of them was born a GTO, Judge, Super Sport, Grand Sport, 442 and Trans Am. To me, it’s more refreshing and less pretentious to see a good clean base model these days!

    Everybody didn’t have the top dog back in the day and in my opinion, don’t have to now. But hey, no reason to ‘Judge’… to each their own.

    Like 5
    • Jason

      Good point Doug! Very good point.

      Like 1
  20. Kevin

    Tributes are fine,but would rather have it mostly stock,and original, with maybe exhaust upgrades,and wheels and tires,and enjoy it often.

    Like 3
  21. SirRaoulDuke

    Everything is cool as long as everyone is upfront and honest come time to sell.

    Personally I am a fan of resto-mods, throwing huge engines under the hood of everything, etc. There are some that find that sacrilegious or some crap.
    So what. As long as a car makes YOU happy, that is all that matters.

    A few here mentioned the financial sense in driving a tribute or clone. I agree 100%. What good is a car you are afraid to drive, or park in a lot?

    Like 5
  22. Kevin McGinness

    is it really a ram air IV engine? I’m not so sure about the paint color being available in the judge format other than carousel red in 69 and no judge plate on the dash near the glove box, but if it drives like a 69 ram air IV I’d take it in a heart beat, was an automatic transmission available on 69 judge?

    • Jason

      Good grief Kevin, you REALLY don’t know about these cars!

      Like 1
  23. John Oliveri

    It’s a Lemans, you can find a real GTO for 30,000. So I don’t know who’s bidding this car, it’s not real, it’s not matching #s it’s a 20,000 clone

    Like 3
  24. G. Hall

    A clone lowers the dollar value of the transaction. I would never own one and would be very upset if I learned I paid top dollar for a real goat only to learn it’s a clone. There is one thing that does not change on a clone and that is the VIN.

    Like 2
  25. Phlathead Phil

    I know a guy that owns a ‘48 Ford Coupe.

    It was built by an engineer who worked for a large American electronics firm.

    Every part was purchased aftermarket, including the body.

    It is stunningly gorgeous. Two months after completion the gent passed.

    The widow sold, (as they often do) and my friend acquired his ride.

    Not one person on the road sez: “Hey look at that clone.” They just see a cool car. He is often asked; “That’s a ‘48 right?” Joe just smiles and says…yep!

    • Steve R

      That’s probably because no one knows or cares that 48 Ford bodies were made aftermarket. If he surprised if more than a small percentage of non-car people knew it was a 48 Ford.

      Steve R

      Like 2
  26. Jonathan Gibson

    OK Jason, you caught me. I’m a fake car guy. There’s nothing worse. From now on I promise to limit myself to websites dedicated to chess, tapdancing, maybe even LGBTQ issues…anything besides automotive topics. Sorry.

    Like 3
    • Jason

      Jonathan NO, NO, NO! Oh man, now you’re going too far!! Not tap dancing and lgbtq-rstuvwxyz!!! Say it aint so man. But seriously, regarding bought boobs! Have you ever put custom wheels on a car? Well if so, fake boobs are just like that!!

  27. Miguelito Loveless

    I prefer Jessica Simpson.

    Like 1
    • Jason

      Me too Loveless! But the jessica simpson that played daisy duke in the dukes of hazard! That jessica simpson!

      Like 1
  28. Kevin

    Barbara Bach was the original Daisy Duke ,she had a more natural beauty, among other,natural features that were very attractive.

  29. Jonathan Gibson

    Jason, what are you doing up at 3:11am making remarks about fake breasts? Should we be concerned here?

    • Jason

      I don’t know why the clock shows that time? It was just after 11pm here in Oregon when I wrote that.

    • Homer Simpson

      Try Catherine Bach.

      Barbara Bach is a serious actress/model and married to Sir Ringo Starr.

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