Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible
Pontiac’s wildly successful GTO entered its second generation in 1968, as did the A-body Tempest on which it was based. Wheelbase dropped from 115 to 112 inches, and overall length shrank nearly six inches to 201.2. The new hardtop wore a roofline more in keeping with the late-1960s trend toward fastbacks. Four horizontally placed headlights looked out from the unique dent-resistant Endura plastic nose, although an extra-cost option would conceal them behind doors. Taillights became part of the bumper assembly. For the first time, windshield wipers were hidden beneath the rear of the hood when not in use.
Car magazines loved the new style and range of four 400-cubic inch V-8 engines that generated from 265 horsepower (in the economical two-barrel version) to 360 (with Ram Air II induction). Hot Rod’s test of a GTO with the 350 hp standard V-8 resulted in quarter-mile times of 14.7 seconds at 97 miles per hour. Motor Trend took the testing process one step further by comparing the gamut of GTO models for ’68. A base-engine GTO with automatic transmission and 3.23:1 rear axle covered the quarter-mile in 15.93 seconds at 88.3 miles per hour. A Ram Air four-speed manual car with drag-strip-ready 4.33:1 gears reduced the trip to 14.45 seconds at 98.2 miles per hour. The magazine was impressed enough to declare the GTO its Car of the Year.
There were only minor changes to the GTO for 1969, including a new locking steering column and the deletion of vent windows. GTO once again offered four 400-cubic inch V-8s. The 350 hp standard and 265 hp two-barrel versions remained unchanged. The Ram Air III produced 366 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque, but the real beast came in the form of a Ram Air IV rated at 370 horsepower and 445 lb-ft. All of the four-barrel GTO engines had 10.75:1 compression, and each had unique camshaft specifications.
The two-barrel 400 could only be mated to the three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic transmission. The four-barrel V-8s were available with either a three-speed manual, four-speed manual or the Turbo Hydra-matic. Standard rear axle gears ranged from a long-legged 2.93:1 (for the two-barrel engine) to 3.90:1 (Ram Air IV), although there were many ratios available by special order. Air conditioning was not available when gears from 3.36:1 to 4.33:1 were requested.
Pontiac, the company that started the muscle car wars in 1964 by marrying its mid-size Tempest body to a big-car V-8, took the GTO into 1969 with an astounding power-to-weight ratio. According to Pontiac dealer literature, four-barrel GTOs with manual transmissions weighed 3,515 as hardtops and 3,569 as convertibles, which means the Ram Air IV cars carried a mere 9.76 and 9.91 pounds per horsepower, respectively.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in November of 2010 at the Robson Estate, Gainesville, Georgia.
370 hp, 400 cu. in. V-8 with 10.75:1 compression and 445 lb-ft of torque, four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, front discs with rear wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 112"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel and Aaron Summerfield