1969 Pontiac GTO
8-cyl. 400cid/350hp 4bbl
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Fate intervened cruelly in 1969 as insurance companies weighed in against muscle cars, complaining about accidents and raising rates as a result. Since Pontiac’s image was that of a performance brand, it was a big blow.
Sales for the 1969 Pontiac GTOs suffered, dropping to 72,287 units. The Hardtop remained most popular with 58,126 new owners, followed by a mere 7,328 Convertibles. The bright spot was the new Judge package (based on the TV catch phrase “Here comes the Judge” by Sammy Davis on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In). The first cars were orange, but before long all GTO colors were offered. The hood had Ram Air intakes, and there were Judge decals on the front fenders, side stripes and a big rear spoiler with another Judge decal.
As in 1968, hardly any GTO buyers opted for the 265 bhp engine only available with the automatic transmission. The majority of GTO Hardtop buyers opted for the 350 bhp four-barrel package.
GTO Ram Air III buyers spent an extra $342.29 for the 366 bhp 400 cid engine with cold-air intake, which could be manually opened. In all 6,143 Ram Air III Hardtop buyers chose a manual gearbox and 1,986 picked the automatic. Convertible numbers were far smaller, with 249 with a manual gearbox and 113 with an automatic.
The 370 bhp Ram Air IV engine was much more radical with different heads, hotter camshaft, an alloy intake and Rochester carburetor. Air conditioning was not available and rear axles could be 3.91:1 or 4.33:1. A total of 549 Ram Air IV Hardtops were sold with the manual gearbox and 151 with the automatic transmission. Convertible numbers were far smaller, with only 45 Convertibles built with manual gearboxes and 14 with automatic transmissions.
The $337.02 Judge package has become one of the most valuable 1969 Pontiac GTO options, but it is hard to break down Ram Air III and Ram Air IV numbers within Judge production since VIN plates do not identify Judges and fake ones do exist. The base Judge engine was the 366 bhp Ram Air III V-8, and the 370 bhp Ram Air IV engine was the ultimate version.
Once again, options could easily push GTOs past $4,500 with 88 separate choices available. Apart from all the engines, a Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission cost $227.04 and either 4-speed was $184.80. An AM/FM stereo could cost as much as $270.68, and an 8-track player added $133.76. Concealed headlights added $52.66, as did cruise control, and the rally gauge cluster was $84.26.
A total of 21 exterior paint colors were offered this year: Starlight Black (A), Expresso Brown (B), Cameo White (C), Warwick Blue (D), Liberty Blue (E), Windward Blue (F), Antique Gold (G), Limelight Green (H), Castilian Bronze (J), Crystal Turquoise (K), Claret Red (L), Midnight Green (M), Burgundy (N), Palladium Silver (P), Verduro Green (Q), Matador Red (R ), Champagne (S), Carousel Red (T), Nocturne Blue (V), Goldenrod Yellow (W), and Mayfair Maize (Y).
Six interior trim colors included Black, Blue, Green, Gold, Red, and Parchment. Four convertible top colors included Ivory/White, Black, Dark Blue and Dark Green, and the five vinyl top colors were Black, Dark Blue, Parchment, Dark Fawn and Dark Green.