Stunning Restoration: 1969 Pontiac GTO “The Judge”

If an enthusiast is going to undertake a classic car restoration, commencing that progress with a rock-solid and original candidate could never be considered a bad thing. That is the story with this 1969 Pontiac GTO “Judge.” This Pontiac is a stunning vehicle, and apart from one panel, all of its steel is original from the factory. It is a head-turning and iconic muscle car that is looking for a new home. If you find yourself sorely tempted, you will find the Judge located in La Mesa, California, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. The Judge can be bought (to quote the original advertisement) for $77,900. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder rex m for referring this fantastic muscle car to us.

Cross-promotion between a car brand and a television series is nothing new. While Pontiac drew the inspiration for The Judge from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” TV series, one of the competitors that it had firmly set in its sights was Plymouth’s Warner Brothers-inspired Road Runner. The Judge package cost its buyer $322 but brought with it the 400ci Ram Air V8, Rally II wheels, a Hurst shifter, a rear spoiler that the company claimed was functional at high speeds, various decals, and distinctive paint colors. Our feature car retains all of these items and is finished in Carousel Red. I was initially going to describe it as flawless, but there is a small dent and mark above the rear wheel arch on the driver’s side. A good paint shop should address this, but if I were the buyer, I would do my homework to ensure that the company involved has a reputation for quality workmanship. When you’re dealing with a car of this caliber, taking shortcuts would not be a wise move. Otherwise, it is hard to find much to fault with this gem. The paint holds a beautiful depth of color and shine, while the stripes and decals look crisp and clean. The owner claims that apart from the hood, this Pontiac’s steel is original as it left the factory. If it has spent its life in California, I don’t doubt that it has remained rust-free for more than half a century. The trim, wheels, and glass are all spotless, while the original owner chose to equip the car with the wonderful hood tach. If anyone wants a classic that is guaranteed to turn heads, this car could be it.

Lifting the hood reveals a spotless engine bay that contains a numbers-matching drivetrain. The buyer receives a 400ci Ram Air V8, a four-speed manual transmission, power steering, and power brakes for their money. With 366hp available from this muscular V8, The Judge carries serious performance credentials. While its top speed of 121mph is considered respectable, its ability to blitz the ¼ mile in 13.8 seconds is what makes this car genuinely special. This car’s authenticity has been confirmed by the Pontiac Historical Society, which should provide reassurance for any potential buyers. Beyond that, this Judge is about more than mere good looks. The owner states that it runs and drives perfectly, so a potential buyer could fly in and drive this classic home.

If you thought that we might open this Pontiac’s doors to reveal an interior that was less than pristine, you would be wrong on that score. The supplied photos are limited, but the overall impression is that the trim and upholstery are close to factory-fresh. There is no evidence of wear and no signs of physical damage. The dash and pad look perfect, while the beautiful timber wheel adds a classy touch. There have been no changes or aftermarket additions, with the factory AM radio occupying its rightful place in the dash.

When Pontiac released The Judge in 1969, it found itself with a minor hit on its hands. While the GTO was outsold by the Chevelle SS 396 and the Road Runner, 6,725 buyers handed over the additional $322 to add a Judge to their life. Today, these are highly-sought classics, and perfect examples can achieve six-figure sale prices. This one isn’t perfect, but it seems that getting it to that point would be neither difficult nor expensive. The owner’s price looks pretty competitive, and it is why I believe that he will have no trouble finding a buyer. I wonder whether that person could be one of our Barn Finds readers.


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  1. Troy s

    La Mesa is a nice town in San Diego county, a mixture of new and old. I haven’t been to the La Mesa car show in years but I am sure this car was at it or even at the El Cajon car show. Santee used to have a pretty good show in the middle of town, no longer. East County Cruisers had a really good show in Santee…..
    I only say this as it looks familiar. Then again its a showroom Judge not a day 2 machine. They all begin to look the same,
    they perform about the same, ha ha, no judge ever ran that 13.8 in the quarter mile… maybe a Royal bobcat equipped Ram Air IV. Or one modded and tuned by the owner. Still a sweat machine to look at.

    Like 10
    • Joseph Buechele

      I totally agree, no Judge with Ram Air III is gonna’ run 13.8……..not even with Arnie Beswick behind the wheel……..ha!… to know where they get these outrageous et’s………..ha!………..

      Like 6
      • Tman

        Probably a now defunct car magazine inflated the numbers or had one with a 455 or highly modified it.

      • Rick Rothermel

        More likely timed with a handheld stopwatch, as was the case with all of the optimistic performance car performance figures of tithe day.

        Like 1
      • Bud maggard

        Well, doesn’t really matter if you believe me or not, but I had a 69 Judge in 1969 and that’s what I ran 13.8s
        Wish I still had it. I do still have the window sticker.

    • SocalDion

      I tried to email the seller twice now, no response and I live in California.

  2. George Mattar

    Beautiful. But why do some people put that stupid Buick air cleaner decal on? WRONG.

    Like 4
    • Nick P

      Kinda strange that Buick would use a decal that says ram air and has a Pontiac arrow as well. Not to mention the fact that they are sold by every Pontiac parts supplier including Ames Performance. Steve Ames was always a stickler for originality and accuracy amassing I believe around 1000 patents for accurate reproductions before he died last year after doing this for over 40 years.

      Like 8
    • Tman

      It’s the same today. I see mini vans and various non Buick sedans that people added aftermarket Ventiports. Really annoys me to see that. It would be like putting on SS (Super Sport) badges on a Mustang!

      Like 2
      • Solosolo Solosolo Member

        Just reading your comment gave me the heebie jeebies! SS badges on a Mustang, never!

  3. Craigo

    When the Judge came out my spoiled neighbor had an uncle who owned a Pontiac dealership. He was able to get a Ram Air IV which was the only one allotted to the dealer.

    Knowing that I owned GTO’s he asked me if I would like to drive his new car. Everyone bashing the IV has never driven one because they were very limited and special. I smoked a 426 Dodge Charger who wanted to race.

    Like 3
    • Troy s

      I hope no one is bashing the hot Ram Air IV….a legitimate factory street/strip engine. Quick out of the gate but this RA III going 13.8 stock? Back then…I seriously doubt it, not without ‘help’.

      Like 1
  4. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    The right color.
    The right options.

    Like 2
  5. Bigbird

    Just a note, Pontiac produced a Ram Air 5 engine in cubic inch sizes 303,400 and 428. Upwards of over 500 hp with special tunnel port heads. Designed to run in Nascar, but reliability problems (like the Chevrolet 427 early ’63) forced it into crate only, dealer installed. Royal Pontiac did build some, and there are 2 known RA-V GTO’s used as test mules back in the day and still out there. Any Ram Air GTO is a good find, then there is a price…..

    Like 3
    • Bigbird

      The performance in a GTO with the RAV was:

      0 – 60 mph 4.9 s
      1/4 mile 12.6 s @ 110.0 mph
      Top speed 183 mph

      • Frank Sumatra

        Where did that top speed figure come from?

        Like 4
      • Steve R

        Ram Air IV cars only came with either 3.90 or 4.30 gears, use a gear ratio calculator rather than relying on some generic information on a website. With 3.90 gears and 26” tall tires the engine would be turning 9,223 RPM at 183mph.

        Steve R

        Like 4
      • Frank Sumatra

        Same source states 525 BHP. No way that ever happened in a production Pontiac.

  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The 195K SS makes this 78K car seem like an outright bargain.

    Like 1
  7. socaldion

    Good morning, I really like this car, I tried to email the seller twice now and no response.

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