Written by Eric Becker
In the 1970s the American muscle car was at its prime. Prodigious horsepower, thundering engines, exuberant exhaust notes, bright colors and groovy graphics. And in mirror form, TV comedy introduced us to the likes Goldie Hawn, Ruth Buzzi and Lily Tomlin, as well as phrases like “Sock it to me” and “Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls!” Brazen, edgy, slightly irreverent and utterly in touch with a large American demographics.
Rowan & Martin’s “Laugh-In,” shown in homes across America on NBC, made famous the line “Here comes the judge.” Used originally by comedian Pigmeat Markham and mainstreamed on the show by Flip Wilson ‒ and, later, Sammy Davis Jr. ‒ “Here comes the judge” became so ubiquitous in the American vernacular that even Detroit’s suits took notice.
Using taglines such as “All rise for the Judge,” and “The Judge can be bought,” GM’s Pontiac Division launched “The Judge” in 1969 as the top trim package for Pontiac’s GTO. The Judge carried over for the 1970 model year. The “Goat” received an updated aggressively shaped Endura polyurethane front fascia, and muscular flared and creased fenders. Pontiac carried over the same engines from ’69, including the race-ready 370hp 400ci Ram Air IV V8. With a restless idle and ferocious pickup, the Ram-Air IV meant business on the road or track, and intimidated the muscle car competition, seeding doubt in their ranks.
Of the 40,149 GTOs built in 1970, only 3,797 were ordered with the Judge trim level; rarer still are those optioned with the aforementioned 400ci Ram Air IV V8. Lot #134, a 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge, has both – and is one of just 325 Ram Air IVs with a 4-speed manual transmission produced that year. Finished in Polar White, the Judge is sure to humble any muscle car that pulls alongside. Retaining its laser-straight original sheet metal, the Judge features just 64,198 original miles.
Inside, The Judge features include the legendary bright red bucket-seat interior, as well as a thick original Formula steering wheel and Hurst T-handle shifter with a full Rally gauge pack and tachometer. The WW code Ram Air IV engine is mated to a Muncie 4-speed close-ratio manual transmission, and hooks up the 3.90 Safe-T-Track HD rear end.
The highly detailed undercarriage is complemented by a beautiful Gardner exhaust, polished stainless U.S. steel gas tank, and other nicely detailed components. Included in the sale is full PHS paperwork, owner’s manual with guidebook, Pontiac sales brochure and Pontiac performance sales brochure for the GTO Ram Air IV.
This Judge doesn’t sit on the bench – it is a 1970 GTO that remains a shining example of muscle cars at their absolute peak.