Has there ever been a badder, more intimidating, more colorful name for a car than "Judge?" With apologies to Boss Mustangs and Plymouth Road Runners, I think "GTO Judge" is the unquestioned champion in this category.
Pontiac's dead-serious GTO had kick-started the muscle car revolution in 1964. Big, fast cars were around before the GTO--the Chrysler 300 letter-series cars were among the most famous--but the combination of the 389-cubic-inch Pontiac V-8 with the attractive intermediate-size Tempest body proved irresistible. The Ford Mustang sparked the pony car class later that year, and suddenly performance cars were hot. Nearly every carmaker had a muscle car in its lineup--even AMC got into the game with the S/CRambler--but in a sea of Cyclones, Chevelles, and Chargers, the GTO stood out as the first, the most famous, and one of the best-selling.
When Pontiac revamped the Tempest and Le Mans intermediates for 1968, the GTO received the new body--and it was a knockout. The original GTO was perhaps a bit more distinctive, with its knife-edged creases and vertically stacked headlights, but the 1968 GTO grew some overtly muscular curves, an Endura body-color bumper, and natty hidden headlights. Improvements came under the hood, as well, in the form of 350 horsepower from the stock 400-cubic-inch engine and a freer-flowing Ram Air II package.
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