By the late 1960s, the Pontiac GTO was facing stiff competition from Dodge, Ford, and Plymouth, as well as other GM manufacturers, which were all coming up with their own versions of muscle cars. One of the models that were enjoying great success at that time was the very affordable Plymouth Road Runner. To compete with the Road Runner, Pontiac launched the Judge in 1969.
Despite being a budget model, the GTO Judge was a respectable performer. It was given the 400 cid Ram Air III engine, which was capable of delivering 366 hp. A new engine option was made available for both the ordinary GTO and the Judge, and it came in the form of the 370-hp 400 cid Ram IV. In 1970, the GTO underwent major design changes. The front end featured four exposed headlights and a narrower grille, and the body was given new creases and more pronounced fender lines. A new 360-hp 455 cid engine joined the lineup of engine options, and the economy engine was discontinued.
1971 was the last year that the Pontiac GTO was offered as a model of its own. Sales were on the decline, and the engine was also compromised to meet new regulations imposed by the government. The following year, the GTO became an option package for the Pontiac LeMans. Its performance continued to plummet in the next couple of years, and when it reached its final year in 1974, the once high-and-mighty GTO was running along with a 200-hp 350 cid engine, which was the smallest engine ever put on a GTO.
Although the Pontiac GTO was revived in 2004, it was a pale shadow of its glorious past. Nonetheless, it will be remembered by classic car enthusiasts as the car that initiated the muscle car revolution.