A famous line from NBC’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In” hit TV show became the chant of a generation, “Here come D’ Judge, Here come D’ Judge.” Ironically it was the genesis for the rebirth of Pontiac’s GTO during the height of the muscle car era. Enter the coke bottle shaped 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible, one of the rarest ragtop muscle cars of all time. This one was featured in the Cars On Line.com newsletter this weekend because it is one of only 29 Judge convertibles produced with an automatic transmission that year.
In fact, this 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible is one of only 108 Pontiac Judge convertibles produced altogether in ’69. The seller from Woodland Park, Colorado tells us it was produced early in the production year. Pontiac built the early GTO Judge in only one color, Carousel red, for the first half of the production year. Later in the second half of the year they included a few more colors.
The seller says there are only test miles on his 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible since completion of the restoration work. It has a correct 400 ci Ram Air III V8 engine, single Rochester 4-barrel carburetor, 366 horsepower rating, and has the GM M40 Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs. 1969 was the first year for the“Coke-bottle” body, available with hideaway headlights. The energy-absorbing Endura front bumper was one of its salient selling features held over from ’68. It cam with wider tires, psychodelic stripes and decals, a rear spoiler 60 inches wide and Rally II wheels without the trim rings, were standard for the Judge. The seller says this one has a four-link suspension to match the live rear axle and coil springs.
Pontiac’s GTO Judge was a part of pop culture, something Pontiac had been counting on. Pontiac noted the famous line from singer/comedian Sammie Davis, Jr’s skit on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In” TV show. Davis would chant “Here come d’ judge,” a line so famous that it was often repeated criptically in the hip American culture. So they called their top-o-the-line GTO model the Judge. Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick, a famous drag racer from the midwest, ran a Pontiac GTO Judge with a wild psychodelic paint job in 1969. All of this added to the hip and trendy allure of the GTO Judge extending Pontiac’s influence in the young American car culture. It gave rebirth to Pontiac muscle cars, a culture that Pontiac had begun with the GTO back in 1964.
A Code WT1 Judge option package added $337 to the sticker price, but look what you got with that package. Dual functional hood scoops actually fed cool air into the Ram Air III engine. The Endura bumper, hideaway headlights and spoiler were part of the body package. The special Judge side accent graphics were wild and the Rally II wheels were all Pontiac. The road handling ability of the GTO was enhanced by the higher-rated springs and recalibrated shocks. Pontiac said it would do 14-second quarter miles easily in bone-stock configuration. This was an impressive car for the younger muscle car buyer.
According to a copy of the original dealer invoice provided by Pontiac Historical Services, which is included with the sale, this GTO Judge was shipped on March 25, 1969, and invoiced on March 31, 1969, to Queen City Pontiac in Plainfield, New Jersey. In addition to the Judge package, the car was built to run, having been equipped new with only the M40 high-performance Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission, power steering, and a pushbutton radio. As equipped, the car carried a suggested retail price of $4,188.72.
The current owner, and private seller, commissioned its total restoration by Acceleration Restoration completed in 2014. He notes that the date-coded “YZ” engine block and the transmission and rear end are understood to be original to the car.