With a massive V8 that lit up the rear tyres along with a colour palette that screamed for attention, the 1969 GTO was easily the most iconic muscle car of the era. The ’64 model was the one that started the craze for big power but what had originally begun as an option package for the mild-mannered Tempest went on to shape an entire generation of high- performance machines. The ’69 Pontiac sure kept the party going.
“The Judge” package gave it authority — and a touch of comedy too; the cartoonish badges were a nod to the catchphrase “here come da judge” made famous by late greats Sammy Davis Jr and Pigmeat Markham on the Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In variety show. There was also a growing irreverence from society towards establishment figures at the time and GM cashed in by using “The Judge” moniker for its two-door. Advertisements used slogans like “The Judge can be bought” and it proved a brilliant marketing ploy, which sure helped to put the 400 cubic inch (6.6-litre) muscle car even further in the limelight.
All ’69 model year GTOs came with the Ram Air III V8 making 366 horsepower while cars with the optional Ram Air IV made 370 horses, but everyone knew they were putting out closer to 400. However, to appease insurance companies, the figures were underrated.
There were no sombre black robes for the Judge; it rode on Rally II wheels wrapped with wide-tread Polyglas G70 tyres, had a rear-deck spoiler, the iconic tach on the bonnet and with all those decals on the body it sure stood out. The interior got black Morrokide bucket seats and rally gauges, while on the mechcanical front it packed a sportier suspension, a Muncie M21 four-speed manual, 4.33 gears and power disc brakes. Pontiac sold 6,725 hard-top Judges (and 108 convertibles) in that debut year and in total 72,287 GTOs.
Today, a low mile well-maintained Judge can set you back in the region of Dh300,000 — worth every penny for the most iconic muscle car of all time.
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