Judge’s Ruling: Roadster Shop Delivers with Fermin Adames’ 1971 Pontiac GTO
Watching a project languish in a friend’s garage happens more often than you think. People get excited about a build and then lose interest, get in over their heads, or simply don’t have the time or resources to finish it. Such was the case with Fermin Adames’ 1971 Pontiac GTO.
The Judge was stripped of its interior and drivetrain to undergo a repaint restoration, in Orbit Orange, and then returned to the owner’s garage for final assembly. Then life’s obligations took priority and the 455 and Muncie sat next to the car, along with interior and trim pieces, for over a decade. All the while, Fermin Adames kept an eye on his friend’s forlorn project and after considerable pestering, his friend finally relinquished the title.
Fermin originally planned to assemble the car as his pal intended. Then he stopped by the Roadster Shop in Mundelein, Illinois, and plans soon changed to incorporate a Fast Track Chassis and drivetrain swap to create a nice driver. From there, things spiraled out of control and the new chassis was fit with Roadster Shop’s independent rear suspension, a fresh drivetrain was planned, and the “new” paint was removed to make way for some subtle body mods.
The build included many one-off pieces like 19×10- and 20×12-inch wheels from Greening Auto Company designed with the flavor of a factory Rally II wheels, wrapped in Michelin rubber, and stopped by Baer six-piston brakes. Custom body touches included a hand-formed metal nose bookended by two short bumpers, along with hand-crafted turn signals and an aluminum spoiler. The rear bumper was tucked into the body for a smooth finish and a rear spoiler affixed to the deck lid. No bolts or retainers show on the exterior, only a few machined Judge logos complementing the BASF Glasurit Oslo Blue finish.
Lifting the hand-formed Ram Air hood reveals a serious LS-based engine crowned with a Whipple supercharger. Wegner Motorsports assembled the engine using a 427c.i. Dart block and backed it with a McLeod clutch assembly and Tremec T-56 sourced from Bowler Transmissions. Exhaust flows through stainless RS headers into Borla mufflers and exits at a custom center dump below the license plate.
The entire interior is custom built, yet it is still unmistakably Pontiac. Dakota Digital instruments are recessed in a factory-styled dash and illuminate through a Momo steering wheel. The leather-wrapped door panels and seats were assembled by Avant Garde Design and the custom console positions the shifter within comfortable reach of the driver.
Fermin’s 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge is like no other yet remains instantly recognizable as a classic Pontiac muscle machine. The careful design and execution by the Roadster Shop team produced a Judge that will preside through modern times while noting the performance of its heritage. Better yet, after 15 years, the classic muscle car is back on the road!
Photos by John Jackson