1971 GTO JUDGE                                                                                    NO  87

  • 1 of only 17 GTO Judge convertibles in existence
  • National Award Winner
  • Original 455ci H.O V8 (335hp)
  • TH400 3 Speed Automatic Trans
  • 12-bolt rear / 3.55 gears
  • Supercar Specialties restoration
  • Factory stereo 8-track player
  • Full PHS documentation

This car is a multiple award winner, having won Best of Show at the GTOAA Nationals and the Muscle Car Restorations and Performance magazine Award of Excellence,



Here Comes de Judge


As previously noted when Pontiac put the big engine 389 cid V8 in the rear wheel drive intermediate A-Body Tempest in 1964 they forever changed the North American auto market. As a result we had the “Muscle Car Explosion” that is celebrated in memory and old men’s tall-tales to this day.  But it can also be seen and touched as real in actual collections of these beauties in museums such as the Lang Collection.

In the 1970 model year General Motors went full in when they allowed the Divisions to install their largest engines in their A-Body models. As a result, we saw such monsters as the 454 cid Chevrolet powered Chevelles, 455 cid Buicks in the Grand Sport, and Olds unleashing the 455 cid 442.  Pontiac brought out the “Judge,” a 455 cid powered GTO offered in both 1970 and 1971. It was named after a popular TV program that had Sammy Davis Jr. stating repeatedly “Here comes de Judge! Here comes de Judge!” But because of a changing market, these would be the last of their kind.

For 1971 the GTO Judge had a modest facelift with wire mesh grilles, horizontal bumper bars on either side of the grille opening, more closely spaced headlamps, and a new hood with dual scoops relocated to the leading edge, not far above the grille.

The standard engine for the 1971 Judge was the new 455 HO with 8.4 compression, rated at 335 hp (230 kW) SAE net at 4,400 rpm.  The Pontiac brochure declared that this engine produced more NET horsepower than any other engine in its history.

“For 1971, the standard rear-end was an open 10 bolt.  Positraction 10 bolt rear ends were available as an option on 400 cid engine equipped GTO’s, while all 455 cid GTO’s were available with a 12 bolt open or optional 12 bolt Positraction rear end.  Motor Trend tested a 1971 GTO with the 455, four speed transmission, and 3.90 axle and obtained a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds and a quarter mile acceleration of 13.4 seconds at 102 mph (164 km/h).”  The 1971 Model GTO was the last year that GTO was sold as a separate model. Only 357 GTO’s were sold in 1971 including 17 convertibles before the last one came down the line in February 1971.  The heyday of the Muscle Car era was over!

This sea change in the North American market had many causes. First the market place itself was shifting. For instance insurance companies had been tightening up their underwriting standards for the last several years in response to all that horsepower running loose on the highway. And the corporations were tiring of “cooking the books” (showing lower speed and horsepower figures than were real) to help stay ahead of the insurance companies to keep their products selling (see the Hemi specifications).

Meanwhile, GM, in an effort to prepare the market for unleaded gasoline, forced an across the board reduction in engine compression ratios. Even more safety measures were coming and just over the horizon the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo featuring the twin evils of higher prices and lower availability would finally conspire to kill off the muscle car market entirely.

But boy wasn’t it fun while it lasted!