Open Menu
Open Menu

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge print ad metamorphosis

Published in

Ads courtesy of the Automotive History Preservation Society

If you’ve ever noticed that sometimes the car in the ad looks a bit different from the car that you buy, you may find this blog entertaining. When Pontiac was developing its attention-grabbing GTO Judge for 1969, its early graphics and rear spoiler designs differed from what was ultimately used on the production cars, yet they were still depicted in Judge print advertising (and the early magazine road tests). Of the multiple ads that ran in automotive enthusiast publications, here are a few that reveal changes made to the graphics as the Judge got closer to production.

In the first “All Rise for The Judge” ad, the early graphics are evident on side photo of the car. In fact, the “hip” ad copy even mentions the “white paint slash,” which would later become a tri-color decal.

Pontiac GTO Judge print ad

This early ad reveals graphics and a rear spoiler that didn’t make it to production.

These elements and even some hardware on the side of the Judge appear to have been either greatly enhanced for the layout or completely drawn in. Notice how bright the white stripe, cornering lamp, GTO fender emblem and even the rear marker light are. The GTO emblem is also too small and it’s crooked. Even the door handle and door lock appear to be retouched. The rear spoiler is taller and more squared off in this photo than the production one was, and it extends further down the deck lid. Many of these photos were used in the 1969 Pontiac performance brochure and were taken during testing by Steve Kelly Feature Editor of Hot Rod. Other Pontiacs in that catalog were tested by Motor Trend, Super Stock & Drag Illustrated and Road &Track magazines.

GTO Judge print ad

Production graphics are shown, but they were added by an artist after the photo was taken.

Though the ad copy is mostly the same except for the first few lines and a revision to denote the new stripes, the second “All Rise for The Judge” ad is transitional with regard to the body details. Most of the photos from the first ad were reused and some were recropped, like the side body shot, which also had the revised graphics added to it. Note “The Judge” callout affixed to the front fender and the new side stripe. The too-small and crooked “GTO” lettering remains, as does the prototype spoiler, but the cornering lamp is gone.

An additional peek at the likely drawn-in graphics is provided in the lower front ¾ body photo. “The Judge” decal looks a little stretched, but pretty much like the production version. No “Ram Air” decals on the hood scoops yet, however. The recropped photo of the prototype rear spoiler now reveals that the leading edge had a sharper upward angle than the production version, among its other differences.

GTO Judge print ad

It looks like the production graphics were finally already on the Judge for this photo session.

Compared to the previous two ads, this one appears to be the best representation of the Judge that went to the dealers. Note the production rear spoiler, stripes, callouts and “Ram Air IV” decal on the hood scoop to signify the optional Ram Air IV engine. The Ram Air III Judges just said “Ram Air.” As you can see, when compared to the lead photo of the ad, “The Judge. It’s justice man, justice.” the same photo was used for both.

As stated early on, a few more 1969 Judge ads published, so the next time you see one, take a closer look to see how close or not it was to the production models.