Justice League: 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge
Restored by Bodie Stroud Industries for Coker COO and President Wade Kawasaki, this original, numbers-matching 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge looks just as good as the day it left the factory.
The Pontiac GTO is often credited as the original muscle car and holds a special place in the hearts and minds of car enthusiasts. In addition to the GTO’s muscle, few cars could match it in terms of outright style, particularly when equipped with the optional Judge package, which included the iconic outlandish stripes, wing, and Hurst shifter.
As is the case with most muscle cars, GTOs were regularly subject to various modifications by oftentimes well-meaning, but less-than-qualified mechanics and this coupled with the tricky handling characteristics and lackluster brakes also led to many being written off in crashes. All of this adds up to the fact that finding an original, numbers matching GTO, particularly a Judge, is next to impossible – but not entirely impossible.
Wade Kawasaki, President and COO of Coker Tire, initially heard about a GTO from a high school friend of his who he spent some time catching up with while on vacation in Hawaii. This friend purchased the GTO from the original owner who had ordered the car from the dealer on Maui. The high school friend had it shipped over to Honolulu with the intention of restoring it.
The GTO was in pretty decent shape, having been kept on a small island; the car had very few original miles on the odometer as well as a decent interior, but had suffered some damage to the left front fender and left rear quarter. The friend who bought it eventually decided that he didn’t have the time or resources to devote to another project and offered the car to Wade. Naturally, this was an offer that Mr. Kawasaki couldn’t refuse and so he had the car shipped to the Wheel Vintiques factory in Southern California and set about finding someone to do the restoration.
Wade had heard of Los Angeles-based car builder Bodie Stroud from numerous friends and colleagues and had seen much of the work that he’d done in recent years. Wade had the idea that the Judge would be the perfect car to feature in the Wheel Vintiques booth at the 2015 SEMA Show and so approached Bodie to do the work on the car. Bodie accepted and began the months-long thrash to get the car ready for SEMA in November.
While typically known for his more creative and custom work on cars like Tim Allen’s 1968 COPO Camaro, Bodie is also well respected as a restorer. His meticulous research and skill in fabrication undeniably made him the best man for the job. Bodie left no stone unturned in the restoration of the GTO, working with the best restoration products from Original Parts Group including trim pieces, replacement parts, emblems, and body parts. OPG’s products and technical advice was critical to the GTO’s restoration. Bodie also enlisted the help of Trim Parts and Classic Tube for the most accurate and well-made restoration products to make the GTO look as good as, if not better than, the day it left the factory.
The PPG Cardinal Red GTO Judge looks as if it just rolled out of the factory with its 400ci big block engine, GM 10 bolt rear end, GM factory steering box, factory suspension, and a revitalized original interior made pristine by the high quality parts from PUI Interiors. Authentic Firestone Wide Oval raised white letter tires from Coker Tire are wrapped around Wheel Vintiques Pontiac Rallye II wheels, giving the car a truly period correct look.
The only areas where Bodie really left the realm of factory replacement parts are in the exhaust system, which was in this case supplied by Pypes, and the suspension. The old Goat received a full complement of Energy Suspension bushings as well as Bilstein shocks. These limited modifications serve mostly to help tame the GTO’s wild handling characteristics and don’t dramatically change the way the car drives.
“These cars are so special and finding them in this condition is pretty rare. We would be doing a disservice to the car if we did anything crazy with it,” said Bodie Stroud. “As the restorer, it’s my job to peel the years back and really honor the history of the car and the guys who original designed and built it. It was such a pleasure to get to bring this car out of the barn and back to life. It turned out great.”
The results of the restoration absolutely do not betray the relatively short timeframe allotted for the work. Bodie and his crew worked day and night for two months to have the car perfect and ready for its worldwide debut at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Displayed in the Wheel Vintiques booth at the show, the car received much attention and adoration from attendees and in a crowd of wildly modified and over-the-top customized vehicles, the perfectly restored muscle car truly stood out.
Restored 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge
Engine: 400ci Big Block
Rear End Manufacturer: GM
Rear End Type: GM 10 Bolt
Drive Shaft: Factory
Type: Factory Steering Box
Steering Column: Factory
Wheels and Tires
Wheel Manufacturer/Model: Wheel Vintiques
Front Wheel Size: 15
Rear Wheel Size: 15
Tire Manufacturer Model: Coker Tire – Firestone Wide Oval
Front Tire Size: G70/15
Rear Tire Size: G70/15
Paint Manufacturer: PPG
Paint Color: Cardinal Red
Fuel Type: Gas
Fuel Pump: OEM Mechanical
Fuel Tank/Cell: OEM
Battery Location: Engine Bay
Header Manufacturer: GM
Header Details: Manifolds
Exhaust Manufacturer: Pypes
Front Suspension Manufacturer: Energy Suspension Bushings
Front Suspension Type: Coil Springs
Rear Suspensions Manufacturer: Factory
Rear Suspension Type: Coil
Shock Manufacturer: Bilstein
Sway Bars: GM
Original Parts Group (OPG)
Parts Unlimited Interiors (PUI)