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In response to the success of the Road Runner and other low cost alternatives to Pontiac's original musclecar the GTO, the division started work on an alternative low dollar performance car. By the time everyone had their say, the ET (for elapsed time, not extra-terrestrial) had become an option on top of the cost of a GTO. According to legend John Delorean was impressed with the car when he saw it but thought the name ET wasn't catchy enough. Remembering the popularity of the Laugh-In show he suggested The Judge.

The prototype was painted Carousel Red, a standard Firebird color. Sharp eyed Chevrolet fans will recognize it as Hugger Orange. It included a stripe based on those that Pontiac performance dealer Royal Bobcat had been putting on their modified cars. The L74 Ram Air motor, Hurst T-handle shifter, blackwall G70 x 14 tires, "dechromed" (no trim ring) Rally II wheels, blacked out grill, and decals with The Judge and a gavel completed the conversion.

By the time the first 2,000 planned Judges hit the showrooms in 1969 the stripe was modified to a three color slash that continued back to a point under the quarter glass. In addition the decal was changed to a pop art three color The Judge without a gavel, and the spoiler was modified slightly. A The Judge emblem on the glovebox door was supposed to be included, but supply problems prevented the first cars from receiving them.

Sometime after the initial run was manufactured Pontiac began offering The Judge in any GTO exterior color, although at least half of the almost 7,000 cars were the trademark Carousel Red. Although some contemporary journalists described The Judge as a failure almost 10% of GTOs made that year were ordered with the package. At under $400 it was a relative bargain considering the cost of ordering the Ram Air motor and Rally II wheels by themselves. It certainly attracted attention for the showroom - who knows how many other Pontiacs were sold to people dropping in to take a look at Pontiac's extrovert!

Although The Judge was originally intended as a one year promotion its sales kept it alive for the next two seasons. The 1970 version was basically the same with the exception of a change to two "eyebrow" stripes per side to accent the new body lines and a spoiler that no longer curved to meet the quarter panels. Orbit Orange (a yellow - go figure) was the signature color for the car. 1971 was the last year for The Judge, the last year for the GTO convertible, and the first year for low compression.