004 - The Journey of a Custom Pro-Touring Pontiac GTO DIY Project Car's Thunderous Transformation

Mike inherited an iconic Pontiac GTO from his father, who bought it brand new, and transformed it into a masterpiece in his garage. The car now boasts a classy look with all the modern upgrades needed for a smooth drive. So, buckle up and revel in this automotive marvel.

Introducing the 1969 second-generation GTO.

The 1969 GTO underwent several design tweaks, including the removal of front door vent windows, subtle changes to the grille and taillights, and shifting the ignition key from the dashboard to the steering column.

This last modification locked the steering wheel when the key was removed, meeting a federal requirement a year ahead of schedule. The gauge face also changed from steel blue to black.

Additionally, the rear quarter-panel mounted side marker lamps changed from a red, arrowhead-shaped lens to one resembling the broad GTO badge. Front outboard headrests became standard equipment for all 1969 models.

While the economy engine and standard 350 hp 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engine remained, the 360 hp (270 kW) "400 H.O." was upgraded to the "400 Ram Air" (informally known as the "Ram Air III"), rated at 366 hp (273 kW) at 5,100 rpm.

The top option was the Ram Air IV, boasting 370 hp (375 PS; 276 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 445 lb⋅ft (603 N⋅m) of torque at 3,900 rpm.

It featured high-flow exhaust manifolds, high-flow cylinder heads, a specific high-rise aluminum intake manifold, a larger Rochester Quadrajet 4-barrel carburetor, a high-lift/long-duration camshaft, and various internal components to handle higher engine speeds and power output. Unlike high-rpm Chevy big-block and Hemi engines, the Ram Air IV used hydraulic lifters.

At this point, the gross power ratings of both Ram Air engines were somewhat dubious, affected more by an internal GM policy limiting all cars, except the Corvette, to no more than one advertised horsepower per 10 lb (4.5 kg) of curb weight.

Introducing "The Judge," a new model inspired by the "Here Come de Judge" comedy routine from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In TV show. Initially designed to be a low-cost GTO to compete with the Plymouth Road Runner, The Judge package cost US$332 more than a standard GTO.

It included the Ram Air 400 engine, Rally II wheels without trim rings, a Hurst shifter (with a unique T-shaped handle), wider tires, various decals, and a rear spoiler.

Pontiac claimed the spoiler offered some functional effect at higher speeds, generating a small yet measurable downforce, although it had little value at legal speeds. Initially available only in Carousel Red, other colors were introduced midway through the model year.

The GTO's sales fell behind both the Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 and the Plymouth Road Runner, but 72,287 units were sold during the 1969 model year, with 6,833 featuring The Judge package.

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