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Thread: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

  1. #1
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    1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone



    1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    by Pete Dunton

    (please see the below link for pictures)

    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...0&Itemid=10634

    The GTO was one of the biggest success stories in automotive history. For the first time an inexpensive fast performance car was available to the masses, creating a whole new market segment called muscle cars. Within a few years just about every American auto brand had at least one muscle car available to the buying public.

    For 1968 the GTO still remained the sales leader in the muscle car segment, however Pontiac noticed a new GTO competitor, the 1968 Plymouth Road Runner. Pontiac was watching the Road Runner carefully since it had a very low base price, which was lower than the GTO. Pontiac feared Plymouth was going to offer more bang for the buck, thereby taking sales away from the GTO. After all the GTO by 1968 had gone more upscale than the very basic "no frills" 1964 GTO which had an extremely low sticker price. Pontiac's strategic response was to release a "no frills" budget GTO for 1969, which could keep the Road Runner from taking the GTO's precious market share. After a lot of testing and work by Pontiac engineers, the budget GTO grew into an upscale GTO. Leading to this was the discovery during the testing and developmental phase that most new 1968 Road Runners sold were laden heavy with options which moved the Road Runner into the same price range as the GTO.

    The end result of this saga was the "Judge" package for the 1969 GTO, which became known as the GTO Judge. The name was derived from the popular TV show "Laugh In" where the phrase "Here come de judge" was often recited to much applause. The GTO Judge had a wild rear spoiler and psychedelic exterior graphics, which even included wild Judge logos. Carousel red initially a 1968 Firebird color adorned the exterior of the first run of Judges from the factory. By year's end the pricey Judge had been a sales success with 6,833 units (6,725 coupes/108 convertibles) sold.

    For 1970 the GTO and Judge received slightly revised styling. The 1968 - 1969 GTO had been a sales success. Pontiac not wanting to rock the boat, kept the same basic shape of the 1968-1969 GTO but fine-tuned it with a new revised front-end which had four exposed round headlamps surrounded by a beautifully sculpted endura front bumper. Gone were the hidden headlamps of the two previous years. The taillights and rear were also all new. The two taillights were completely surrounded and wrapped around to the sides of big chrome rear bumper. However the real surprise were the new cutouts in the valance panel underneath the rear bumper for four chrome exhaust tips (two on each side). Another styling change was visible on all four fenders - creases above each wheel well. The creases first debuted on the 1969 Firebird, Pontiac was merely taking the successful design and applying it to the GTO. Put together all the styling changes for the 1970 GTO and Judge and the final result was what arguably many GTO fans will call the best looking GTO and Judge ever produced.

    Though styling looked "oh so good" for 1970, the GTO and Judge unfortunately did not get the 1970 Firebird's stylish new sporty body colored outside mirrors. Pontiac realized their mistake and offered them in 1971 on the GTO and Judge. Of course it's no surprise that many owners who restore their 1970 GTOs and Judges install the sport mirrors (as seen in the pictures in this article).

    Bigger than the previous year, on the Judge there was a standard rear wing spoiler in body color or (WT7 option) black, gloss black Ram Air hood inlets, and an optional black front-end chin spoiler. The icing on the cake was a wild decal package (even more outlandish than the 1969 Judge), which consisted of psychedelic stripes over each wheel well and Judge logos. For 1970, the Judge could be ordered in any 1970 GTO exterior color along with one non-GTO color. The color was a new Judge exclusive for 1970 called Orbit Orange. The only problem with owning an Orbit Orange Judge was with its wild graphics and bright exterior color it easily garners attention from your friendly law enforcement officer holding a radar gun.

    In the 1971 cult-classic film Two Lane Blacktop one of the stars was an Orbit Orange 1970 GTO Judge coupe driven by the late great actor Warren Oates. Warren in the film summed it up best when he exclaimed "Just Color Me Gone Baby" as he rammed the accelerator towards the floor and the Judge moved down a long strip of highway like a fighter jet with the afterburners ignited.

    Most Judges for 1970 came loaded with options. There were enough luxury and convenience options to make even a Grand Prix owner blush in delight. The interior was still GTO all the way. Though bench seats were standard, most Judges had bucket seats with headrests and a front center console. And as a gentle reminder there was also a big Judge badge on the glovebox door. Adding a really sport touch to the interior was a new for 1970 GTO and Judge option - the Pontiac "Formula" steering wheel which was also the standard steering wheel on the 1970 - 1981 Trans Am. And for the buyers that ordered a 4-speed manual transmission they received a beautiful machined Hurst T-handle shifter which over the last almost 40 years has taken on cult-like status in Pontiac muscle car circles. Another nice touch on the 1970 Judge was the hood tach, another relic from this era that has taken on cult-like status.

    There were three different engine choices on the 1970 Judge. First was the 366 horsepower (430 lbs/ft of torque) Ram Air III, a high performance D-port Pontiac 400 CID V8. Next was a round-port high performance Ram Air IV 400 which was underrated by the factory at 370 horsepower (445 lbs/ft of torque). And for those that wanted a high performance V8 with enough torque to uproot a large tree, there was the Pontiac 455 CID V8 (introduced at the middle of the 1970 model year), which produced 360 horsepower and an amazing 500 lbs/ft of torque. The 455 Judge is the most rare of the three due to the fact that only 17 were produced. All three Judge engines came standard with a factory Ram Air setup, which delivered cool air to the engine via hood scoops and the air cleaner assembly. The Ram Air III 400 and the 455 both had "Ram Air" decals on the Judge's hood scoops while the Ram Air IV had "Ram Air IV" decals in the same location.

    Four transmissions were available on the Ram Air III Judge: the Muncie M13 (3-speed manual), Muncie M20 (wide ratio 4-speed manual), Muncie M21 (close ratio 4-speed manual), and the Turbo-Hydramatic 400 (TH400) 3-speed automatic. The most rare of these was the M13 option (only 124 Ram Air III Judges were ordered with the M13). The Ram Air IV Judge only had two transmission choices: the Muncie M21 4-speed manual and TH400 3-speed automatic. And all 17 of the 455 Judge's were ordered with the TH400 automatic transmission.

    All 1970 Judges had the GTO's dual exhaust system, which had dual mufflers. One listen to this great sounding system there was no doubt this was a serious muscle car.

    In the current classic car market, 1970 GTO Judges command very high prices, higher than most of its competition from 1970. However its sales during the 1970 model year were a little over half of the numbers of 1969 Judges sold, only 3,797 1970 Judges (3,629 coupes/168 convertibles) were built. Of course this was not the Judge's fault. Muscle car sales were way down for every automaker in 1970. Skyrocketing insurance rates were strangling sales.

    Pontiac with the 1970 GTO Judge proved again that the GTO was still the leader in the muscle car market it created. But the sad news was the Judge would only last one more model year. After 1971 the Judge was retired, and a few years after that even the GTO would be gone. However the 1970 GTO Judge will forever remain the pinnacle of the GTO, and that's not a bad place to be in automotive history. Warren Oates would certainly agree.

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Great story, Pete!

    Especially the point about the original GTO's lowball price. Many argue that the Chrysler letter cars of the late '50s and early '60s were the first muscle cars, but they were higher-end cars to begin with, while the first GTO was a bargain basement el cheapo Tempest in which a 389 hi-po V-8 and HD suspension were added, but not much else.

    I personally prefer the later GTOs - including the Judges that are the focus of your story. 1970, 1971 and 1972... great years that combine a beautiful body with (in my opinion) the best street engines (455 HO) for these heavy muscle cars, along with the best interior layout and color schemes. The "total package" as they say!

  3. #3
    Trey Bien
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    There are numerous inaccuracies in this article. Off the top of my head, I know of five:

    1. The 455 Judge was not only available with auto tranny. It's just the 17 people who bought one ordered an auto.

    2. The VOE option seems to have been limited to non-Ram Air engines, so it's quite possible that it wasn't available on the Judge. I don't have any documented proof, but that seems to be the prevailing wisdom in Pontiac circles.

    3. Black scoops were standard on ALL 1970 Judges, and this continued through the 1971 model.

    4. Orbit Orange is just that - not "Orbital".

    5. Carousel Red was not available on the GTO in 1970.

    Nice color, this copper, right?

  4. #4
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    The car may have had many merits, but the graphics were gaudy.

    Not exactly a Q-ship.


  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    There are numerous inaccuracies in this article. Off the top of my head, I know of five:

    1. The 455 Judge was not only available with auto tranny. It's just the 17 people who bought one ordered an auto.

    2. The VOE option seems to have been limited to non-Ram Air engines, so it's quite possible that it wasn't available on the Judge. I don't have any documented proof, but that seems to be the prevailing wisdom in Pontiac circles.

    3. Black scoops were standard on ALL 1970 Judges, and this continued through the 1971 model.

    4. Orbit Orange is just that - not "Orbital".

    5. Carousel Red was not available on the GTO in 1970.

    Nice color, this copper, right?
    Hi Trey,

    I'm sure Pete will step in to address the points you made; on the typos - don't blame him - I should have caught those!

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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    1. The 455 Judge was not only available with auto tranny. It's just the 17 people who bought one ordered an auto.
    Did not know this. Do you have a 1970 GTO/Judge order sheet or know where I can get one where this can be seen? Would love to get one of these to see for certain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    2. The VOE option seems to have been limited to non-Ram Air engines, so it's quite possible that it wasn't available on the Judge. I don't have any documented proof, but that seems to be the prevailing wisdom in Pontiac circles.
    Prevailing wisdom has been proven wrong before, a piece of documentation saying so would put this to rest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    3. Black scoops were standard on ALL 1970 Judges, and this continued through the 1971 model.
    Could you list me a source for this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    4. Orbit Orange is just that - not "Orbital".
    Thanks this was a mistake on my part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    5. Carousel Red was not available on the GTO in 1970.
    Sorry another SNAFU, meant to say Cardinal Red.

    Thanks again for your input, I'll edit the article accordingly.

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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Update on the VOE option, you are incorrect it was available on Ram Air cars, look at the Humbler commercial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGC3dlzQ8WQ

    Look at the screen capture I posted down below, notice when the actor pulls the VOE handle there's (on the right) a pull "ram air" handle (you can see the "air" listed next to the handle, the "ram" is shadowed out). This means VOE was available on Ram Air GTOs and Judges:




    Also if you watch the commercial closely you can see a "Ram Air" decal on the hood (even though the quality of the video is grainy).

  8. #8
    Trey Bien
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete

    Did not know this. Do you have a 1970 GTO/Judge order sheet or know where I can get one where this can be seen? Would love to get one of these to see for certain.
    Could you tell me a good reason why the regular GTO had the 455 available in 3-speed, 4-speed, and automatic, but the Judge only had it in automatic?

    Prevailing wisdom has been proven wrong before, a piece of documentation saying so would put this to rest.
    True, prevailing wisdom has been wrong before, but in this case it's a bunch of people - including Jim Mattison - who have accumulated experience and information over the years.

    As for the commercial you've posted - good sleuthing, but a commercial does not a correct car make, much like a car brochure and factory photos don't mean things were "that way". If anything, the commercial was trying to show different features of the car. They can cobble together whatever they want.

    However, unlike the other comments, I wouldn't bet my life on this one as I would the other ones. :-)

    Could you list me a source for this?
    Um . . . this is a hard one, but black scoop boots, along with black grilles, stripes, and a spoiler were all visual cues that were part of the Judge package for 1970. It's the same for '71, but the scoops are different. Additionally, the '71s had "455 HO" on the side of the spoiler.

    To tell you the truth, I'm surprised you didn't get this one because I would have never expected it to be missed.

    Thanks again for your input, I'll edit the article accordingly.
    Thank you for reading my feedback!

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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    Could you tell me a good reason why the regular GTO had the 455 available in 3-speed, 4-speed, and automatic, but the Judge only had it in automatic?
    As I mentioned it's not worth our time speculating, the Judge order sheet will have the answer. However it's got to be a late 1970 model year order sheet since the 455 was a late model year option on the Judge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    True, prevailing wisdom has been wrong before, but in this case it's a bunch of people - including Jim Mattison - who have accumulated experience and information over the years.
    Does Jim know how many GTOs/Judges were ordered with VOE and what engine option each VOE car was ordered with? Unless he has that info, it's anyones guess what the answer would be. Jim is a great asset to the Classic Pontiac community, and is a wealth of information but unfortunately he his held to the constraints of the documents Pontiac has given him or lack there of. As an example nobody knows how many automatic transmission equipped W72 400 Trans Ams were produced in 1978, Pontiac just did not document this and nobody will ever know the exact figure.

    The big problem with VOE is that very few GTOs or Judges came equipped with it, and the ones that did their original exhaust systems are long gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    As for the commercial you've posted - good sleuthing, but a commercial does not a correct car make, much like a car brochure and factory photos don't mean things were "that way". If anything, the commercial was trying to show different features of the car. They can cobble together whatever they want.
    They may have pieced together the VOE GTO Ram Air III for the commerical, but I'll be willing to bet that the GTO in the commercial got sold as is like most press and commercial cars after it was no longer needed. Probably somebody owned the car, making at least one Ram Air VOE car in existence. Maybe Jim Wangers or somebody on the marketing side of Pontaic knows what happened to this GTO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Bien
    Um . . . this is a hard one, but black scoop boots, along with black grilles, stripes, and a spoiler were all visual cues that were part of the Judge package for 1970. It's the same for '71, but the scoops are different. Additionally, the '71s had "455 HO" on the side of the spoiler.
    The problem is that there are some original 1970 GTO Judges with these scoops painted body color I have seen at car shows or at other places over the years. Now they probably were painted that way and did not come that way from the factory that way. After looking at the Pontiac GTO Restoration Guide 1964-1972" I see they mention "hood scoop ornaments...gloss black in 1970". So I concede I was incorrect on this.


  10. #10
    Trey Bien
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Greetings!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete

    As I mentioned it's not worth our time speculating, the Judge order sheet will have the answer. However it's got to be a late 1970 model year order sheet since the 455 was a late model year option on the Judge.
    You suggest it's not worth our time speculating, but you're the one who speculated (inferred, if you will) that it was only available with an automatic. Since no order form is available to me, I can only suggest that the default should be that it was available with stick or auto (per the "regular" GTO) but all 17 Judge buyers opted for the auto.

    Does Jim know how many GTOs/Judges were ordered with VOE and what engine option each VOE car was ordered with? Unless he has that info, it's anyones guess what the answer would be. Jim is a great asset to the Classic Pontiac community, and is a wealth of information but unfortunately he his held to the constraints of the documents Pontiac has given him or lack there of. As an example nobody knows how many automatic transmission equipped W72 400 Trans Ams were produced in 1978, Pontiac just did not document this and nobody will ever know the exact figure.
    Well, I can tell you that 212 hardtops and 21 ragtops came with VOE, and according to Tom DeMauro's GTO book, John Sawruk claims the option was not available on Ram Air cars. The surviving VOE cars I've seen all have been 350hp cars, although it stands to reason that was the most popular engine too.

    It's also known that anyone can be wrong (I know I feel his claim about an engine for the GT-37 is incorrect), but he's the horse's mouth at this point.

    Regarding the W72 Trans Am from 1978, Tom DeMauro also has a book on F-bodies, and in it he quotes a figure of 4,139. That is just the regular T/A and none of the special editions. Again, there could be a mistake, but I believe these numbers are easy to find.



    They may have pieced together the VOE GTO Ram Air III for the commerical, but I'll be willing to bet that the GTO in the commercial got sold as is like most press and commercial cars after it was no longer needed. Probably somebody owned the car, making at least one Ram Air VOE car in existence. Maybe Jim Wangers or somebody on the marketing side of Pontaic knows what happened to this GTO.
    See this Road Runner?


    This car was originally white. It still exists, and it's documented.

    Or this Hemi'cuda?


    This Hemi'cuda has incorrect wheels, is lacking the rocker trim that's special to 'Cudas, and has the astrotone rear panel that was only part of the Gran Coupe.

    I suppose you can guess that my point is promotional cars should never be used as gospel.

    ....

    Interesting, eh?

  11. #11
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    Thanks for all the great info.

    As for the complete list of 1978 W72 automatics John Witzke - Mr. W72 and POCI W72 director says there is no exact figure.

    Since you are such a wealth of information maybe you can shed some light on a topic I have wanted to find the answer to for quite sometime. From the research I have done the Two Lane Blacktop Orbit Orange Judges - one was a Ram Air III and the other a Ram Air IV not a 455 Judge as mentioned in the movie. Do you know if these cars still exist? I have heard word the Ram Air IV is still around and hidden away in someone's private collection. Is this true?


  12. #12
    Trey Bien
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    Re: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge - Color Me Gone

    I don't know the story on the cars, other than they are Orbit Orange GTOs without the Judge insignia. However, a recent issue of High Performance Pontiac has the final word on the movie and the cars. Alas, I missed that issue on the newsstands, so you'll have to rely on someone else for your answer. But I did find this, which may help:
    http://forums.performanceyears.com/f...d.php?t=556252

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