Here Comes The Judge

The Pontiac GTO Judge —
one of the most iconic
muscle cars of the late
1960’s; offered in both
Hard-top and Convertible.

It was intended
to be an inexpensive,
stripped down GTO
model but with a bit
more gitty-up……

.. it came with a spoiler,
a 366 horsepower Ram
Air III engine, rally wheels,
wide tires, and a Hurst
shifter, and of course,
the Judge decal package.

Pontiac wanted to offer
the package to go up
against the Plymouth
Road Runner, and it was
originally only available
in Carousel Red
(a sorta orange color).

Yet, against all expectations,
the GTO Judge somehow
captured the buying public’s
imagination and sales soared.

More than 6,800 were
sold the first year, and
Pontiac relented mid-year
in offering the Judge in
all the GTO colors.

In 1970, an additional engine
option was added in the 370
HP RAM IV engine, and some
additional colors; about 3800
were produced.

Unfortunately, pressure on
the muscle car market in
general was being brought
by a combination of high
insurance company rates,
rising gas prices, and
increasing production
costs — and a decline in
demand for and the
manufacture of large
horsepower cars like
the GTO Judge resulted.

1971 was the GTO
Judge’s final year….
and only 357 were
produced before it was discontinued in February of that year.

.

!! HOY !!!

.

 

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Pontiac’s Prototypes

1977 Pontiac Phantom

“Driving
Excitement ?

Sure……

I’ve always
had a
soft spot
in my
driving heart
(head)
for
Pontiacs..

1988 Pontiac Pursuit

… to me,
as a kid
growing up
in the 1960’s,
the “Wide
Track Sporty Pontiac”
was the image
of what an automobile
should be and would
represent in the future.

Fun, style, handling,
and power.

1963 Pontiac Scorpion XP-758

No matter how
hard GM seemed
to try to wash
out the
distinctive
qualities of
the brand
over the years,
Pontiacs always
looked pretty
much LIKE a
Pontiac.

1959 Pontiac El-Tigre XP-92

The marque
was started
in 1926 as a
General Motors
stable mate to
a car make
called the
“Oakland”
(discontinued
in 1931) and was
outselling it within
months of it’s
introduction.

1959 El Catalina

Until the
mid-1950’s,
Pontiac wasn’t
really known
for it’s good
looks or it’s
performance,
necessarily…

1970’s Pontiac Banshee XP-833

It was simply
known
as a rugged,
dependable
and relatively
inexpensive car.

1956 changed
all of that-
along with
marketing
strategies,
lead engineers,
and even
a new general manager.

1956 Firebird II

Soon, a new 1957
Bonneville was selling
for more than a Cadillac –

– and their old fashioned
stodgy image was changed
almost overnight into
” America’s Number
One Road Car “.

And Pontiac designers
continued to set this
tone, well into
the early 1970’s.

1990 Pontiac Sunfire

That new emphasis
on style and engineering
meant the development
of several prototypes
to keep ahead
of coming trends —

— so, today’s post
includes several of
Pontiac’s most cutting
edge designs from that
prolific period .

!!! HOY !!!

1956 Pontiac Club De Mer

.

Saturday Car Post

I’ve driven a lot
of cars in my life-
I love em, and I’ll take
anything out for a spin
that I have the chance
to, not to mention always
insisting on renting
a model I’ve never
driven before when
it’s possible.

I frankly don’t think
much of the newer
reproductions of older
classics, like the Challenger
and the Mustang –
not because they don’t
have plenty of power –
they do – but because
they lack originality in
their form, while their
function is limited by the
constraints of the vintage
look they’re emulating.

Ok, so maybe I’m
just a crank.

But spending $70,000 for
a car that looks like it was
built 50 years ago just
doesn’t appeal to me.

Give me original or
give me new –
don’t confuse me with
something that’s neither
and both.

I’ve been asked to write
about the qualities that
made the cars I loved
my favorites…..

1: Power, sure, One;
and by that I mean
power to the street –
it does me no good
if the tires burn out
at every traffic light,
so,

2: Two is the correct
Gear Ratio.

3: Steering, is next-
you can’t really enjoy
a car with a huge
turning radius.
You wanna make that
U-turn without hitting
the curb or needing 5
lanes to do it.

4: And Suspension is
Four – I don’t want to
bounce around like a
buckle bunny in the
back of a pickup.

Only after one other
thing,
5: Weight
do Looks start to mean
something . By weight,
I mean, how hefty a
vehicle is when the
wind is blowing –
does it bounce off the
car like a nerf ball or
does it make me feel
like I’m driving a kite?

6: Looks.
Of course, it matters.
But, like so many other
things in life, without
the basics, looks are
nothing but junior
class bimbette bait.
Life’s too short, and
any woman worth
her salt knows a lemon
from a good hunk of
go when she sees it.

!!! HOY !!!

Index (from top):
1967 Pontiac LeMans
2003 Ford Thunderbird
1963 Chevrolet Impala SS
1961 Lincoln Continental
1965 Ford Thunderbird
1974 Plymouth Fury
1971 Triumph TR-6

The Saturday Car Post – Movie Cars Part 1

You might have been noticing the series about TV cars on recent Saturday Car Posts – and my blogging friend over at TaoTalk asked if I couldn’t take it a step further and do something about movie cars.

Absolutely, man;
happy to oblige.

Ok… so maybe you
noticed the guy on
that very attractive mule.

Well, ya see, that guy
happens to be Clint
Eastwood – and that
wonderful mule was
the one that got insulted
by those five nasty
gunfighters in
” Fistful Of Dollars ” –
and, you should
definitely watch what
you say, cause it didn’t
go all that well for those
guys.

I was conjuring up some
of my favorite movies,
and since they didn’t have
cars back in the old west …

Ok..
back on topic.

Hey- CAR CHASES .

Who don’t like em ?

We talked about the Charger
in the Steve McQueen movie
“Bullitt” already … and that
dark green 1968 Ford
Mustang GT Fastback was
pretty much a hoss, too-
equipped with that
muscular Ford 390
four-barrel V-8.

They recently located the
original car from the movie…
–it’s in Tennessee somewhere
currently getting
rebuilt and restored.

My favorite car chase,
all things considered,
though … was the
one through
the mall in
“The Blues Brothers”.

I dunno if it was the
background music
combined with all
that wonderful crashing –
did you know that 103
cars were wrecked in the
1980 original version ?

The boys drove a
retired California
Highway Patrol car- a
1974 Dodge Monaco,
with a big 440 V-8 –
“cop tires,
cop suspension,
and cop motor” .

Legend has it that
the scene was shot in
a real mall —
the Dixie Square Mall
in Harvey, Illinois.

Henry Gibson,
and his on-screen
Illinois Nazis also
owned a fleet of 6
1977 Ford Pintos –
including the orange
station wagon that
went flying off the
end of the unfinished
highway bridge.

Couldn’t happen to
a nicer group of guys.

!!! HOY !!!

.

 

The 1968 Dodge Charger R/T

It’d be hard to get me
to say anything nice
about the cars produced
by Chrysler Plymouth
after the year 1972.
(Other than Dodge Ram)

The worst vehicle I’ve
ever owned was a
Chrysler Pacifica, and
I’ve had spectacularly
disastrous experiences
with Prowlers and
New Yorkers.

Previous to those,
however, I had much
more success with
70’s era Dodge Darts,
early 60’s Plymouth
Valiants, Plymouth
Furys, and
today’s featured car:
The 1968 Dodge
Charger R/T.

It sold new for
about $3600,
and was the
sharpest looking
car on the market
for the money.

(disregarding that
horrible avocado
paint in the ad, ->
of course)

I know it’s irrelevant,
by the time I got it,
it had 120,000 miles
on the odo and was
still running like it
was new.

1968 was the first year
for the new “B-Body”
line-up – and the boys
in Hamtramck on the
line were working hard
to improve build quality.

What they produced was
a worth adversary to it’s
competition –

– what it lacked in
creature comforts,
it made up for in
speed, handling,
and classic good looks.

The R/T model came
stock with the V-8
440 Magnum package,
which made about
360 horsepower –

– but if that weren’t
enough for ya, you
could order the
legendary 426 Hemi
engine as an option.

It also came standard
with “bee stripes” –
but anybody with
any sense ordered
that thing deleted.

Think the
world’s greatest
car chase ever filmed —
in ” Bullitt “, with Steve
McQueen in a hopped
up Mustang being
chased/chased
through the streets
of San Francisco by a
couple of thugs in a
Charger 440 R/T –

— there weren’t no
damn sissy stripes on
that stone-cold black
beauty.

Yes,
that car, man.

You might say it was
the pinnacle of that
company’s design
history – sleek, lean,
fast, and looked like
it would jack your
lunch money.

Alas, all too soon,
higher gas prices,
federal regulations,
insurance costs,
economic issues,
and planned
obsolescence
brought the domestic
production of cars
like this to an end-
especially for the
Mopar Group.

( Except for a couple of
overpriced, underwhelming
exceptions like the Viper
and the Demon, which are,
for all practical purposes,
un-driveable in city conditions,
and un-affordable to the
average working man looking
for a really fun daily driver. )

It’s a shame, really.

Because that
68 Charger R/T
was really something, man.

!!!! HOY !!!!

TV Cars of the 1960’s – Mannix

Alrighty—

You probably already
figured out this post
is part two of our
TV Cars series that
we started a
couple weeks ago.

Yep.

If you missed
Part One, well <— .

Today, we’re looking
at more ‘ action cars ‘ –
– you know, the cars
the tough guys like
‘Mannix’ drove.

Actually, Mannix
was on TV quite
a while, from 1967
to 1975 –

– and they used different
models for most seasons,
although overwhelmingly
Mopar for most of the
show’s run.

But, the first year
used a 1967 Oldsmobile
Toronado Convertible.

And no, GM didn’t
produce a 67 Toronado
drop-top –
– it was a one of a kind,
customized by George
Barris for the show.

Another Barris
customization job
was done for season
two and three :

1968/69 Dodge Dart
340 GTS rag-tops –
in a non-stock color,
British Racing Green.

The functional hood
scoop, rear spoiler,
mag wheels,
and a lot of other stuff
wasn’t stock, either .

But it was a hot
looking car, right ?

Season four and five’s car
was a 1970/1971 Plymouth
Cuda 340 in dark green.

(In season five, the 340
was alternated with
another Cuda with a
383 c.i.)

Season six was
still a Cuda –
the 1971’s updated
with ’73(?) trim –
since the car had
been discontinued by then.

Season seven:
1974 Dodge
Challenger 360
Rallye’s,
with added
mag wheels
and tires was used –

— and the car was mainly
stock (although it was
equipped with every
possible option including
the factory sunroof ).

The last year, 1975, brought
a change in the car brand
used by the TV production
company, so the show
rotated a 1974 blue
Chevy Camaro LT hardtop
with a 1975 Caprice
Convertible.

(HUH?)

(That was the last year
for the rag-top Caprice.)

But, there are also
traces of a green
1974 Gran Torino
in several episodes
in season eight.

By far- the Toronado
and the Dart GTS
were the coolest, man.

!!! HOY !!!

.

The BMW 507

Originally intended as
market competition for
the Mercedes Benz 300SL
at a lower price point,
the sporty and quirky
BMW 507 was only
produced for three
years —
– between 1956 and 1959.

The car, although
quite beautiful, had
some serious challenges
that took it, almost
immediately, out of
the running for Americans
interested in purchasing
a sporty mid-priced
roadster in the late
1950’s.

The first release of the
507 was plagued with
issues, including an
oversized gas tank
which took up valuable
trunk and passenger
room, and which leaked
the odor of gas when
the convertible top was
deployed.

The drum brakes
weren’t very good,
and an available
removable hard-top
option had to be
custom made to
each car, so it only
fit the car it came on.

And the production
costs, predicted to be
about $1500 under
the cost of a 300SL
in 1956, doubled –
and priced the car way
too expensive for it’s
intended market.
($10,700 in 1958)

By the time the car’s
issues were resolved,
BMW is said to have
lost about 5 million
dollars on it, and only
252 of them were
actually produced.

Still, the styling of
the 507 was first rate,
and the aluminum
193 V-8 produced a
reasonable quantity
of power for the car-
– about 150 HP, with
the double two-barrel
carb set up and the
4 speed manual, and
had a top speed of
over 120 MPH.

Acceleration was also
decent; zero to sixty
could be as quick as
11 seconds.

But it’s looks are what
is best remembered
about the car, and the
507 notably influenced
the styling of future
models , especially the
BMW Z-8.

.