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Phil Mitchell’s Ultra-Rare 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge

Relatively few Pontiac GTO Judges were produced back in the day, so anyone who has one in 2019 knows they own a low-volume collector car. Phil Mitchell’s 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible may be one of the rarest.

Of the nearly 170 Judge convertibles produced in 1970, Phil’s red stormer is one of only a dozen or so featuring the ultra-rare Ram Air IV option and a four-speed manual transmission. Raise your hand if you have a similar ’70 Judge!

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How many of the dozen RA IV, four-speed Judge convertibles are red with a red interior is unknown, but you’d have to guess the number is in the low single digits. Add in the console-mounted eight-track cassette player and you’ll need a few decimal points.

Mitchell’s Judge sports the 400c.i. V8 that came with the upgraded Ram Air IV heads and functioning hood scoops to bring cool air to the Quadrajet carb that sits on the ultra-rare, two-piece RA IV intake. Stock high-flow factory exhaust headers feed waste gases through a stock dual exhaust system.

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GM’s 1970 power plants were the last of the high-compression engines (10.5:1 for the Judge). Compression ratios and horsepower ratings declined in the following years because of increasingly strict anti-smog guidelines. This time frame was also the height of understated factory horsepower ratings, so the advertised 370 horsepower for the Ram Air IV Judge was undoubtedly quite conservative.

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1970 Pontiac GTO Judge, GTO Judge, pontiac gto, pontiac judge, muscle car, 1970 gto

A Muncie wide-ratio four-speed, topped by a Hurst T-Handle shifter, guides the horsepower through a stock driveshaft to a 3.90:1 Posi-traction rearend. The otherwise stock suspension features front disc brakes and rear drums. For the 1970 GTO models, Pontiac added a rear anti-roll bar and a slightly stiffer front piece that helped reduce body roll in corners. Goodyear Polyglas GT tires (G70/14) ride on stock rally wheels on all four corners.


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The stock red interior features a factory console as well as the optional remote mirror control on the driver’s side door. A stock radio – with the aforementioned eight-track player adding true ’70s style – completes the nicely restored passenger compartment. A white convertible top finishes the package off.

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A 60-inch rear wing and Judge-only side stripes place the car clearly in the “Hey, look at me!” category of muscle-car-era standouts like the Plymouth Superbird, Dodge Daytona, and Pontiac Trans Am models. With the performance to back up its bold appearance, Phil’s red 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge certainly deserves all of the attention it invites.

Photos by John Jackson

Dave Doucette is a long-time Goodguys member with a career in newspaper, magazine and website journalism. He was one of the founding editors of USA TODAY, editor of two daily newspapers and co-owner of a magazine publishing and trade show company. He owns and operates Real Auto Media. His first car was a 1947 Ford; he has owned Camaros, Firebirds, El Caminos and a 1956 Chevy that was entered in shows from California to Florida before being sold last year. He was one of the original Goodguys Rodders Reps and served as president of two classic Chevy clubs. Doucette grew up in South Florida, avidly following the racing exploits of local hero Ollie Olsen and, of course, Don Garlits. He remembers riding his bicycle to Briggs Cunningham’s West Palm Beach factory to peak through the fence at his Sebring and LeMans racers.

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