The Pontiac GTO was a muscle car made as a brand owned by GM in 1969. It was part of an optional package in the first two years with the earlier models, but then it took off on its own from 1966-1971. John DeLorean came with up the name GTO after a race car of the same name, which stood for Gran Turismo Omologato in Italian. However, in this case, it was first called the Grand Tempest Option, as a package to other models.


Pontiac GTO from 1969
Pontiac GTO


For the 1969 GTO model, considered a second generation car, there was some slight feature changes from the previous models. The ignition key that was once on the dashboard was moved to the steering column, the vent windows in the front doors were removed, slight alterations were made to the taillight area and grille, and gauge colors went from blue to black. The Pontiac arrowhead emblem also changed to the GTO badge as well.

The standard 350 hp V8 engine remained in the GTO, but the 360 hp 400HO saw an upgrade to the Ram Air III, which had a 366 hp. There was also an option to get a 370 hp Ram Air IV with hydraulic lifters, which other powerful engines in other cars didn’t have. The Judge was named after a tv comedy show, and was to compete with the Plymouth Road Runner after being stripped of some of the regular GTO’s features. It was a few hundred more than a regular GTO and included a rear spoiler, Rally II wheels with bigger tires, and a T-shaped Hurst shifter.


Pontiac GTO The Judge
The Judge


The 1969 GTO could go from 0-60 MPH in 7.4 seconds with a Ram Air III engine, 7.2 seconds with a V8, and 6.6 seconds with a Ram Air IV. There were two V8 engines available, with different power ratios, as well as 4 styles of transmission. The transmission choices were 3-speed, 4-speed (both manual), Turbo Hydra-Matic, and 4-speed close ratio, which was manual as well. The Hydra-Matic was an automatic with three speeds forward and reverse, which was first used in 1964 Cadillacs.

There were many colors available for the GTO including black, three different shades of blue, Midnight Green, burgundy, yellow, and Carousel Red (which was its first and only color in the beginning). The interior of the car had six different colors to choose from as well. Despite the car’s beauty, it couldn’t beat the Road Runner and the Chevelle SS396 in sales. Over 70,000 were sold in 1969, with over 6,800 of them ordering the Judge.


Inside the 1969 GTO


There was a relaunch in 2004 of the Pontiac GTO, called the Holden Monaro, which was imported from Australia. The public wasn’t thrilled with it and felt it wasn’t in line with GTO’s heritage, and aside from that, there was no attempt to make it resemble an updated muscle car like the Charger and Mustang. The prices were high, with different dealers trying to charge more and not letting customers test drive them. They eventually had to sell them with major discounts. 2006 was the last year a GTO was produced.