It’s rare enough to find true survivors among run-of-the-mill cars from 50 years ago. An original example of a high-performance car with production numbers in the mid-300s? Well, that’s basically a unicorn.
One such horned equine is this 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge, and it’s still with the Minnesota family that drove it home on May 18, 1971. Not only does it meet all of the criteria outlined above, but it holds an additional distinction: It was the last Judge to roll off the line before the gas-swilling variant became a victim of the fuel crisis.
That’s right. This is the final arbiter. The ultimate adjudicator. The buck stopped here.
Mary and Wayne Hagen ordered their Judge in its Orbit Orange finish, but they almost didn’t get their way. Due to the production wind-down, being picky about color wasn’t much of an option. After their order had been placed, the dealership called the Hagens with some bad news:
“A few weeks later we got a call from the Hansord staff saying things had changed and it wouldn’t be possible for our Judge to be built,” Hagen told The Transmission. “We were disappointed and reluctantly asked for our deposit back. That seemed to motivate them to work harder to get it to happen.”
Sure enough, the dealer called back, offering to have a white GTO Judge repainted in the factory orange. The Hagens agreed, and after a short wait (recess?), their orange Judge was ready to be driven home.
The Hagens held on to their Judge through the worst of the fuel shortages and economic malaise that followed, but the GTO was eventually sidelined in favor of a 1980 Pontiac Trans Am. The Judge emerged again nearly 35 years after adjourning to the family garage, where it acquired a serious layer of dust and grime.
Since cleaned up and returned to running condition, the Judge (sporting a very apt “A11R1SE” Minnesota collector car plate) now makes regular appearances on the classic car circuit.