Q: Hi Greg and I see your articles in the area newspapers often and on the internet, too. My husband and I own a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge, which is a tribute car in excellent condition. We take it to the area car shows and we’re hoping to see you this year at the Tioga Downs Casino car show scheduled in late September.

Can you touch on The GTO Judge and tribute cars which are not number matching? How valuable are these type vehicles of very special muscle cars compared to numbers matching?
My husband John and I look forward to your columns as we always learn something new when we read them. Thank you very much.
— John and Nickie Miller, Wyalusing, Pennsylvania

A: Sometimes things really work out as just this past weekend, I met both John and Nickie in person at the ever expanding and annual Tioga Downs Casino Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show held Saturday, Sept. 23 in Nichols, New York.

First a little GTO Judge history.

In 1969 car names were the “in thing” and “The Judge” was introduced in response to Plymouth’s Roadrunner, Dodge’s Super Bee, Cougar’s Eliminator, Ford’s Boss 302, and so on. I give comedian Flip Wilson a nod for his popular “Here Come ‘da Judge” skits in 1968 on TV for positive reinforcement when it came time for Pontiac to choose the name.

Although not many GTO enthusiasts know this, The Judge was to be a lower cost, stripped down version of the GTO, much like the Plymouth Roadrunner ideology. The Judge option cost just $322 and came with the base 400-inch, 366-horse Ram Air III engine, unimpressive Rally II wheels (no chrome rings), Hurst shifter with T-shaped handle, Judge stripes and decals, and a rear spoiler. The Judge was initially offered only in Carousel Red (orange) which the Miller’s GTO Judge is in all its beauty. In 1969, of the 72,000-plus GTOs sold, only 6,725 were Judge models and even fewer featured the 370-horse Ram Air IV engine, listed at 370-horsepower.

After seeing the Miller’s beautiful 1969 GTO Judge tribute up close and personal, I bestow a Five-Star ‘Cars We Remember’ pat on the back to this couple for doing one outstanding job on their GTO. (See photos attached).

Overall, the 1969 GTO Judge Ram Air III to this day is one of the rarest GTOs ever produced, thanks to its Judge trim and the Ram Air engine. Today, an original numbers matching GTO Judge Ram Air III in tip-top shape with the Hurst 4-speed will fetch an easy high retail of $134,000 according to current NADA Classic Car pricing. A low end price for a GTO Judge not in great shape is in the $30,000 range while mid-range would be around $62,000. As for the Ram Air IV option, only 239 models were produced in 1969 and one recently sold at Barrett-Jackson for $198,000. How’s that for some impressive collector car numbers?

As for the Miller’s tribute notation and the fact that their GTO Judge is not numbers matching, this couple won’t be disappointed by current values. They told me when we visited that their GTO was appraised by Pontiac experts and it would still bring an easy $75,000 in the car’s top class condition. I checked with some of my friends, and they agree with the $75,000 up to $80,000 figure for a car as nice as yours.

I know there are purists out there who demand absolute numbers matching cars, but your tribute 1969 GTO Judge is easily the nicest I’ve come across in all my years of attending car shows. Perhaps in years to come, it might be worth even more.

Thanks much for your letter and the nice comments about my columns. Remember that just about everyone gave up on muscle cars from the high-performance era of 1963 to 1972, but today they are diamonds in the rough be it numbers matching or not.

It was a pleasure meeting you both at the car show and I look forward to seeing you again next year, God willing.

— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications.