CUSTOM GTO JUDGE: Witness for the Defense

Credit: Original article published by Barrett-Jackson.

Written by independent automotive journalist Roger C. Johnson

It can be easily argued that this 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge custom convertible represents the state of the art in classic muscle car restoration and customizing. What was once a high-style body shape from 1969 is now a finely crafted creation that looks more like the product of tomorrow than yesteryear. One thousand hours of custom bodywork, including newly formed front and rear bumpers and side panels, change the profile of the car so dramatically and tastefully the effect looks like an illusion, yet it is as real as can be. Custom shaved door handles utilizing heavy-duty “poppers” with concealed exterior releases make them invisible to the eye. A custom-designed black cloth convertible top alters this GTO’s profile even more and demands a second, third and fourth look to take it all in.

This Judge, selling with No Reserve at the 2023 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, has smoothed inner fender wells and a plasma-cut inner hood panel that controls airflow for maximum efficiency. Ringbrothers custom black aluminum hood hinges, along with a custom core support panel designed to conceal radiator accessories, are more examples of the almost fanatical attention to detail that has been lavished on this project. Concept PPG Hugger Orange paint mixed with clear is highlighted impressively with custom front and rear side stripes in black.

Just like the original Judge, which offered the most powerful engine in the factory lineup of the era, this modern-day masterpiece incorporates GM’s most advanced V8 engine in the form of the 6.2-liter LSA supercharged power plant that produces virtually twice as much muscle as the Ram Air 400 engine in 1969. This one has been dyno-documented at over 600 horsepower at the rear wheels and 700 horsepower at the flywheel.

Further down the drivetrain rests a Bowler 6-speed manual transmission with a McLeod hydraulic clutch, along with a 12-bolt rear end with 3.55 gearing. Ultimate brand long-tube headers connected to a 3-inch exhaust system, including Borla Pro XS mufflers, announce this Judge’s intentions with complete and utter authority.

Naturally, any machine that stretches the boundaries of normalcy like this one does is going to defy your expectations in all areas of performance. That’s why this Judge comes with coilover shocks/springs at all corners, which are enhanced with a RideTech Pro E5 self-leveling remote suspension package. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires measuring 245/35×18 do the steering, while 275/35×20-inchers in the rear do all the pushing. Forgeline SC3C wheels do their deed and the profiling that goes with it. Wilwood 4-wheel vented disc brakes with 14-inch rotors utilizing 6-piston calipers up front and 4-piston units out back surpass the original 1969 system by factors of a hundred.

This Judge’s interior is a sight to behold – and be touched. The product of Steve Holcomb Interiors features LizardSkin interior sound ceramic insulation to wrap you in sensory delight, comfort and plushness. The gauge pod has been reengineered utilizing VHX Dakota Digital gauges and morphs easily into the well-thought-out dash layout. If you think this creation’s features – including air conditioning and a comprehensive Pioneer stereo system – risk absolute sensory overload, that makes this custom GTO Judge as righteous as it can be in any court of law. Case dismissed.

Register to bid today for a chance to make this modernized muscle car yours at the 2023 Scottsdale Auction, January 21-29 at WestWorld.