70 Judge

The Judge was purchased in Massachusetts, at the last stop of an eastern tour that had the expressed purpose of finding a 1970 model.  I had talked my wife into combining a car search and vacation into a short get-a-way.  Her company was much appreciated, and we ended up not only finding the car, but also having a good time.


The 1970 GTO Judge was the second year for the Judge model.  As with all the GM A Bodies, 1970 marked a restyling of the GTOs body and interior.  The Judge drivetrains pretty much carried over from 1969.  A new engine option for the GTOs was a 455 cubic inch engine.  Almost all Judges, however, came with the carry over Ram Air III or Ram Air IV 400 cubic inch engines.  The Judge package also included colorful graphics, spoiler, Hurst shifter, and badging.  The car came standard with a three speed manual transmission, with a four speed manual or Turbo Hydramatic as options.

This car was equipped with the factory original Ram Air III 400 cubic engine and  Muncie M20 four speed transmission.  It retained it’s flawed, but original, Polar White exterior and black interior.  The car also had a GM Frigidaire air conditioning system that had been added after the car left the factory.  The car’s provenance was verified by PHS documents showing its originality.

I bought the car knowing that it needed work.  The body exhibited rust in some of the usual areas, most noticeably the rear quarter panels.  The paint was somewhat amateurish and would have to be redone.  The trunk was solid.  The interior and engine compartment were in need of cleaning and detailing.  The engine ran very well, and the transmission and clutch worked great.  The brakes, however, needed attention.

I had the car hauled home, and immediately took it to the shop for a mechanical inspection and repair of any deficiencies.  Inspection of the drivetrain showed no fluid leaks, good engine compression, and normal wear.  The brake problem was diagnosed as a leaking rear wheel cylinder.  The cylinder was replaced, and the brake system bled.  The air conditioning system would not hold a charge as there was a leak in the coils behind the radiator.  The coils could not be repaired, so, after much searching, they were replaced, and the system was recharged.  I now had a fully functioning and safe car.  It was time to deal with the body issues.

An initial examination at the body shop showed the main items needed to bring the car back up to a high level included replacement of the rear quarter panels, repair of the hood and some body dings, rechrome of the rear bumper, complete removal of the paint, and a repaint with a new polar-white, base/clear paint job.  The car would be in the shop for six to eight months.  That was no problem, because it gave me time to look for parts and plan the rest of the work that would be required when the car returned from the body shop.

The body shop did a great job, and the car looked better than new when I got it back to my garage.  After letting the paint cure for a while, my wife and I placed all of the correct Judge decals on the car.  We had done decals before, so these went on easily and gave the car it’s distinctive Judge look.



The interior was in good shape, so all it required was a thorough cleaning and detailing.


The engine compartment was in also good overall condition but required degreasing, prepping and painting.


All correct colors including Pontiac blue engine paint were used in detailing the engine bay.  The trunk was cleaned and painted with the correct blue/aqua spatter paint.

The car came with incorrect 15-inch Rally II wheels and tires.  After much searching, I was able to find the correct stamped and date coded 14-inch wheels that came on the car.  I sanded the wheels and repainted them in the correct argent silver and gray color scheme.  Judges did not have trim rings, so, after mounting 14-inch tires on the wheels, they were bolted back onto the car.  The absence of the trim rings, gives the Judge its simple, muscular look.

The cars undercarriage was solid but covered with rust proofing.  Removing old rust proofing is usually a miserable job, and this car proved no exception.  After a laborious amount of scraping and sanding, the removal was considered sufficient, and undercarriage black paint was applied.  I vowed to never again buy a car that needed rustproofing removed.  It’s no fun.

The Judge turned out looking and driving like, or, in some cases, better than new.  It was now time to enjoy the car and take in some of the local car shows and cruise nights.










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