I was around when the DeLorean Motor Company was launched, and I thought John DeLorean was a futuristic thinker coming from some unconventional direction. In fact, he may have been a futuristic thinker, but he was very much embedded in the mainstream automotive industry for many years.
DeLorean graduated from the Chrysler Institute, and he started working for Chrysler as an engineer. He was especially talented, and by the time he was 42, he was the head of the Pontiac division of General Motors.
John DeLorean was one of the masterminds behind the Pontiac GTO, which is a quintessential classic American muscle car. He worked alongside Bill Collins and Russell Gee to create the car, which was originally introduced for the 1964 model year.
In 1969 American popular culture could be described as irreverent. There was a very influential sketch comedy TV show at that time called Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. There was a particular sketch that revolved around the catchphrase ‘Here comes de judge.’
The Plymouth Road Runner was introduced for the 1968 model year. Pontiac decided to capture some of that pop-culture appeal, so they introduced a version of the GTO that was called The Judge for the 1969 model year.
The Judge option package cost $332 back in 1969, and it was a good value if you compare that price to the price of each option individually. The Judge came standard with a 400-cubic-inch Ram Air III V8 that was rated at 366 horsepower.
From a sales perspective, The Judge was pretty successful during that initial model year. There were 6833 units sold. Total sales for all versions of the GTO stood at 72,287 for the year.
The car returned again for the 1970 model year, with the standard color being the unmistakable “Orbit Orange.” Late in the year, The Judge was offered with a 455-cubic-inch V8 if you wanted some extra muscle.
1971 was the final model year for The Judge GTO. If you can find one of these classic muscle cars, you have identified a rarity. Pontiac sold just 357 units before The Judge was removed from the bench. A 1971 GTO Judge convertible is the rarest of rare jewels. There were just 17 of these cars produced.