Jay Leno drops the hammer on a 1970 Pontiac GTO 'The Judge'

1970 Pontiac GTO 'The Judge'
Pontiac first unleashed its popular GTO as an option package for the relatively lightweight Pontiac Tempest. The package brought, among other things, a 389-cid V8 engine rated at 325 hp with a single-four-barrel carburetor or 365 hp with Pontiac’s “Tri-Power” induction, consisting of three Rochester 2BBL carburetors. The formula was good enough for many to argue it was the first muscle car.

By 1970, the GTO had hit its second generation, and it became its own model. Now more of a near-luxury cruiser, the GTO gained some weight, but that was offset by a bigger 400-cid engine. It was also slapped with a catchphrase from the variety show “Laugh-In” as a trim package.

This particular GTO, “The Judge,” is owned by Wade Kawasaki of Coker Tire, and it's a well-preserved, mostly original example of a 1970 Pontiac GTO. The car sports a new Coker Tire product: a modern radial version of the famous Firestone Wide Oval tires. Originally found in bias-ply construction only, these new tires should give muscle-car enthusiasts a more sure-footed feel without completely sacrificing a period look.

Despite the driving taking place during Southern California’s rainy season, Leno and Kawasaki take the GTO out for a spin and wonder if the car merely strokes the strings of nostalgia or if it’s actually fun to drive. We weren’t there, but we imagine that it’s the latter.

By Wesley Wren - Wesley is an Associate Editor at Autoweek.

The 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Is an Attainable Muscle Car Classic

In a world of outrageous collector car prices, this is a muscle car the average person might still be able to afford.

It's pretty safe to say we're living in a fantastic time for American muscle. You can get a 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat for less than $65,000, the Chevrolet Camaro SS is pretty much a four-seat Corvette, and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R beat out several more-expensive cars to win our 2016 Performance Car of the Year award.

But even with an abundance of new muscle cars to choose from, there's always going to be something special about the classics. Take the 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge that Jay Leno had on the latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage, for example. Other than wearing modern tires, it's pretty much stock. And it's incredible.

There's no 1000-horsepower engine under the hood, only a 400 cubic inch V8 making around 360 horsepower. If you want to shift, you have to do it yourself with a four-speed manual transmission. And as Leno says, it actually handles pretty well.

Even better, unlike some of the other cars that may have been on posters covering your wall, it's the kind of dream car you might actually be able to afford one day. In a world where once-attainable enthusiast cars command ridiculous prices at auction, that makes it even better.