Originally produced in 1964, the Pontiac GTO had by 1969 become a true American muscle car, popular with teens, young adults and amateur racers. The 1969 model retained many of the features of the first generation vehicles, but added a few designchanges to the exterior that gave it a distinct look for this production year. Of course it also had a powerful set of engines from which to choose, and the car was marketed as a street machine that rivaled the more custom-built vehicles used in the Trans-Am racing circuit.
The GTO Prior To 1969 The name GTO is an abbreviation of the Italian title Gran Turismo Omologato, which refers to a license to compete in the Grand Tourer class. The first GTO was actually an option form of the Pontiac LeMans, available both as a coupe and a convertible. It came with a standard 389 cubic inch V-8 engine and a variety of transmissions. The distinct above and below headlights were extremely popular for their appearance, as was the simulated hood scoop. Over the next several years the lines of the vehicle became more curvaceous, with a more sweeping front and a raised, kicked-up rear end. In keeping with the new safety standards now mandatory, the late 60s models incorporated shoulder belts, an energy-absorbing steering wheel and 4-way emergency flashers.
Pontiac GTO For 1969 The 389-400 cubic inch V-8 engine returned for the 1969 model year and the GTO was advertised as a true muscle car. The 350 horsepower generated was favored by both young and old who appreciated the power that was inside the gracious curves of the automobile.
All 1969 GTO automobiles came with bucket seats, Hurst shifter, dual exhaust system, front power disc brakes and the Quadrajet carburetor. Pontiac also introduced the Judge model of the GTO during this year, named after a comedy routine performed on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In TV show, and it became the legendary trim that is most sought after today by collectors. This variant came with a 400 cubic inch Ram-AirV-8 as standard equipment, a stylish and loud paint job, black textured front grill and the Judge decals. By the middle of 1969 the 350 cubic inch V-8 engine was the more popular choice for buyers, as it made the car somewhat more affordable. About 73,000 Pontiac GTO vehicles were sold during the model year, most of which were the coupe variety; the convertible sold less than 7,300 units. Approximately 6,800 Judge trims were sold in 1969.
The GTO was manufactured at a number of locations in the united States including Fremont CA, Pontiac MI, Kansas City MO and Baltimore MD. The car itself was marketed to compete head-to-head with the Chevrolet Chevelle, Plymouth Roadrunner and Buick Special. The factory price for the 1969 model ranged from about $2,830 for the 2-door hardtop to approximately $3,400 for the convertible; the Judge trim sold for about $3,200. The rare Judge convertible is a collector’s series, with only 108 vehicles produced and listed at about $4,200. Pontiac would continue the GTO line of vehicles through the 1974 model year, and after a long hiatus would reintroduce the vehicle in 2004 for the Australian market. After the Arab oil embargo in late 1973, the American car manufacturers focused on better gas mileage, smaller engines and lighter weight vehicles; the original GTO was doomed.