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Is it a REAL Judge?     How to tell the real ones from the fakes

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You may be considering buying a GTO Judge. At least the seller is telling you its a Judge. The car may have Judge stickers and stripes, but "buyer beware"! The only way to know if the car originally came with the Judge option is to have the VIN number checked out. There is only one company that can do this for you. They are called Pontiac Historic Services. The company is run by Jim Mattison. GM basically gave him the responsibility for checking the VIN numbers and interacting with consumers. To evaluate your potential Judge purchase, the very first thing to do is get a copy of the PHS (Pontiac Historic Services) paperwork on that specific car. They will send you a copy of the actual build sheet of the car (Pontiac only). If you want a quick response, fax your name, credit card number, expiration date, vin number of vehicle, your fax number and signature. It costs $35 and it is a secured fax line. The PHS fax number is 248-583-0596. His turn around by fax is much faster than waiting for the packet of info in the mail. He will then also mail you a bunch of info on the model you request in about a week. With the fax you will get it much quicker (usually that day). This helps if you want to jump on a car purchase. PHS does have a web site at http://www.phs-online.com

In reguards to visually discerning if it is a Judge or not is another good question. People can clone Judges all day long. There is no way to tell by looking at a clone except by running the VIN number through PHS and to see the Judge option stated on the build sheet. By just looking at the VIN, you can't tell.

Appearance items that make a Judge a Judge are:

1  Ram Air III standard or Optional Ram Air IV engine
2  Blacked out grille
3  Blacked out hood scoops
However, 1969 Judges didn't have blacked out hood scoops.  1970 did, not sure about 1971.
4  rear wing
5  Rally II wheels with no trim rings (dealer could install if wanted)
6  Ram Air decals on hood
7  Stripes and Judge decals on each fender and on rear deck lid
Most, but not all Judges had a plastic "The Judge" glovebox emblem.
There is conflicting information about power antennas. Some say that no Judges had rear power antennas, as they couldn't be ordered with a rear wing, because they would interfere with trunk opening, if antenna was extended to its maximum. But some people disagree with that statement entirely. Bill (wgannon@ix.netcom.com) said he recently had a RAIII 1969 hardtop PHS verified Judge that HAD a rear power antenna ordered from the factory. It did not interfere with the wing and is not even close to interfering with it.

The above items can be added to a plain GTO to make it LOOK like a real Judge. Keep in mind that a Judge is worth about 40% more than the same quality GTO of that year.

None of these additional items will prove that a Judge is real:

 A window sticker  (these can be reproduced by many companies to say anything you want)
 The owner swears that it is a real Judge          (can you believe the seller?)
Scott Zucker (ITZVERN@aol.com) wrote to explain about the Judge spoilers.  One way to spot a real '69 Judge is to open the trunk and have a look inside.  A standard base model GTO or LeMans will have only one torque rod in the hinge assembly.  The regular GTO or LeMans trunk was lighter and needed only one torque rod to make the trunk lid stay up.  Because of the added weight of a Judge spoiler, Pontiac used two torque rods.   Look for them.  In 1970, they changed the whole design and the wing weighed less.  So just insert the trunk key and turn it.  If the trunk lid pops up like its supposed to, it's a good chance it's a real Judge.

Many people believe there is nothing wrong with building a Judge clone. But there is something wrong with selling a non-Judge car as a Judge by misrepresenting it as REAL. A Judge is a special appearance and performance option that made the GTO look great. But "buyer beware"!

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Thanks To... logo

Steve Petro (xz5v6k@naeng.gm.com) for supplying most of the text for this article. His Judge was recently featured in a new book about GTOs in general.
NEW- A hardcover book all about GTO's by author Steve Statham. The author did a photo shoot of Steve Petro's Judge after the Woodward GTO Tigers car show in July 1999. The book includes several shots of Steve Petro's Judge. In fact, its the cover car too! Published May, 2000
AVAILABLE HERE -> Pontiac Gto : The Great One by Steve Statham.

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