1 of only 2 Judge Convertibles produced in 1971 with the Tropical Lime color option just set a new auction record. When the hammer hit at Mecum’s Indy 2022 event, this bad boy was worth $400,000.
The Judge is already muscle car royalty. However, if it’s a convertible, this suddenly becomes big news. Pontiac sold just 357 GTO Judges in 1971. Of those, only 17 were convertibles. And when it’s 1 of 2 examples finished in Tropical Lime, this is rare enough to seem fictional.
All in all, the buyer paid $440,000. But even that is slightly below estimates. The other 17 Judge convertibles have been exchanging hands at over $200,000 for the past decade, and clones of these cars are appearing.
The Judge is powered by the top-of-the-line engine of its kind, the original YE block 455 V8, officially rated at 335 horsepower and 4280 pound-feet of torque. The HO’s 4-barrel carbs are fed through the functional Ram Air and dual-snorkel air cleaner.
Like all automatic judges, this features a 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 transmission that sends power to the 12-bolt rear differential using the uses the same 3.55 rear gear ratio. The car has undergone a recent and quite comprehensive restoration, so both the engine and trans are in great condition.
Said restoration was a rotisserie job, so the Tropical Lime paint is fresher than lemon juice. The Pontiac features new Yellow Judge stripes and decals, a blacked-out grille, body-colored mirrors, and 14-inch Honeycomb wheels with Goodyear Polyglas tires.
This rare convertible muscle car features a black top and boot cover, a black interior with bucket seats, Rally Gauge Cluster, a Delco pushbutton radio, a Custom Sport steering wheel, a console, and a floor shifter. It was optioned with the Y96 Ride and Handling Package included featuring a rear sway bar and with Soft Ray-tinted windshield.
Here comes the Judge
Word has it that the Judge got its name from a comic routine on the popular Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In television show, where Sammie Davis Jr put on a robe and wig, chanting “Here comes da judge, here comes da judge.”
If you were young and on a budget, this was one of the coolest muscle cars to buy at the time. For the $332 over the standard Judge, you got the back grille, a 60-inch wing, Rally II wheels and functional scoops.
They sold about 6,800 Judges during the 1969 model year, with the 366 horsepower Ram Air III engine with a 4-barrel Quadra-jet carburetor or the available 370 hp Ram Air IV and a 4-speed.
They changed the style of the car for 1970, adding four exposed headlamps outside the grille and a restyled rear. 1971 was the last production year of the Judge, and they tweaked it even further, with the arrival of those nostril-like hood scoops.
Sadly, the Ram III and IV were gone. Due to government restrictions, the 455 HO ran a low compression of 8.4:1, but it was still a pretty fast quarter-mile machine.