Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a 30-day sponsored series featuring cars to be sold January 23-31 during Barrett-Jackson’s 45th Scottsdale auction.
In 1963, Pontiac Motor Division general ganager Pete Estes and chief engineer John DeLorean sat down with the division’s sales manager, Frank Bridge, to discuss their new 1964 GTO muscle car. Confident the GTO would be a hit, Estes and DeLorean had to negotiate with Bridge, whose job it was to keep the hundreds of Pontiac dealers happy.
Bridge wasn’t sure the dealers would be eager to sell a car that was aimed at dozens of hot-rodders instead of thousands of regular drivers. However, not willing to back down from a challenge, Bridge responded, “All right… I’ll put out a memo, and we’ll turn it over to the (district sales) zones. If they can take 5,000 orders I’ll commit to … (but) I bet you won’t even sell 500.”
Surpassing all predictions, over 30,000 GTO’s were sold. The success of the GTO can be attributed to its combination of a big-block V8 with a mid-size body platform as well as being marketed as being performance-oriented.
While Pontiac built 502,929 GTOs between 1964 and 1972, they weren’t all created equal. The standard 389 (or 400 from 1967-1972) guaranteed burnt rubber, explosive acceleration, thrilling top speeds and a date every Friday night, but some customers demanded more. Fortunately, Pontiac stood ready with enough ammunition to keep them ahead of most competitors.
The year 1969 marked a return to Pontiac performance levels not seen since the aborted Super Duty program of 1963. One result of being pro-performance was the Ram Air IV 400, the first Pontiac V8 with an aluminum intake manifold. Also from 1969 came the Judge option for the GTO, inspired by a popular TV comedy program at the time, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.”
Being offered as part of the Thomas Stutzman Collection at no reserve at this year’s Scottsdale auction, is a 1969 Ram Air IV GTO Judge.
The car is one of 239 4-speed-equipped Judges with the 370hp Ram Air IV engine.
The Judge has received a full frame-off professional restoration. The Ram Air IV engine has been carefully restored to “as-new” condition. The Ram Air IV engine (Code WW) block has new pistons, rings and bearings installed. The crank was checked and lightly refinished. The Ram Air IV “722” cylinder heads were checked and given a fresh valve job, along with new valves and valve springs. Everything was reassembled and the entire engine assembly was given a coat of the correct Pontiac silver-blue engine paint.
The car was completely disassembled and stripped to bare metal during its restoration. The frame was removed and the entire drivetrain was rebuilt. The body of this vehicle was gone over from front to back and the body fit is laser-straight. Once the body was prepared, it was given a fresh coat of Carousel Red (Code 72), using DuPont base coat/clear coat paint.
The frame was stripped and all chassis components were replaced and refinished in the correct original-factory finishes. The interior was completely redone. All instruments and gauges were checked for operation, and repaired or replaced if necessary.
The restoration on this GTO is 100 percent “factory correct,” right down to the correct T-3 headlamps and original style Firestone red stripe tires.
Barrett-Jackson’s 45th Anniversary Scottsdale Auction, January 23-31 at WestWorld of Scottsdale, will feature over 1,400 vehicles, most selling at No Reserve. For information on becoming a bidder, visit Barrett-Jackson.com/bid or call 480-421-6694.