Pontiac owned the muscle scene in the early 1960s. In fact, the 1964 Pontiac GTO is widely regarded as the very first of the breed. But by 1968, that car had plenty of competition. The thought within Pontiac was to make a cheaper version of the GTO with a smaller 350-cubic-inch engine called the ET (for "elapsed time") a drag-racing term.
Pontiac boss John DeLorean didn’t like that idea. To him, no GTO could have an engine that small. Instead, the team built a car one step up from the regular GTO. DeLorean himself named the car after a popular skit on the TV show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The Judge featured the 360-hp Ram Air III engine standard, but buyers could also opt for the more hardcore 370-hp Ram Air IV. The rarest of all were the GTO Judge Ram Air IV convertibles—only five were built in 1969.
Little-Known Fact: The original TV commercial for the Judge featured the rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders singing about the GTO out on a dry lakebed. According to the book Pontiac Pizazz, by Jim Wangers and Art Fitzpatrick, the lead singer, Mark Lindsay, was a car guy and loved the Judge, so he wrote a song about it. Wangers claims this commercial is considered one of the earliest rock-music videos.