Back in the late ’60s, every American manufacturer was jostling for positions as to who would offer the ultimate in street performance, the muscle car par excellence. Every manufacturer – even AMC, with the Rebel Machine – had a serious contender, but with Pontiac, things went to another level, with the introductions, pushed by John DeLorean, of the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge. A pure performance machine, ‘The Judge’ was stripped of most gimmickry and luxury; effort and resources were concentrated on power. Of course, some things still remained, such as mostly useless Ram Air hood scoop, as well as the rear spoiler. The GTO Judge was also equipped with a VOE, or ‘Vacuum Operated Exhaust’ which greatly increased the sound of the engine (on demand), just in case nobody had noticed the already-noisy, bright orange street monster that had just pulled up next to them. This was done, nominally, in order to decrease back pressure and improve performance. It was brutally loud.
If the Pontiac GTO ‘Judge’ was anything, it was fast. Unlike other flashy cars that merely looked good, the Judge could deliver where it counted, and in a spectacular fashion. Equipped with an available 455 cubic inch (7.5-liters) overhead valve V8, producing an official 370 horsepower, although it was probably much more. Pontiac regularly had to resort to this in order to ‘fool’ GM management and their stupid rules. The Judge could reach a top speed of about 130 miles per hour – honest – and accelerate to 60 mph in about 6 seconds.
The 1969 to 1971 Pontiac GTO ‘The Judge’ is undoubtedly one of the greatest muscle cars ever, but all things have to come to an end. The Judge was incredibly thirsty, getting no more than 10 miles to the gallon, and all those performance enhancements were expensive. On the plus side, it was cancelled as it was still a hot car, so it didn’t have to suffer the long road of infamy that so many muscle cars suffered through the ’70s. Small blessings.