All Rise For The Judge
RPM Magazine|March 2017

Jim Zeek's Immaculate GTO Judge.


It’s no doubt that anyone who lived in the late ’60s to early ’70s can remember the eclectic mix of muscle cars coming out of the corporate designers’ minds at the time. The wild advertisement slogans and promotions would eventually lead to the demise of the muscle car revolution under government intervention on emissions. Flamboyant colors, big engines, even bigger bodies and horsepower could be bought right at the dealer with a wide range of options.

One of the more prominent muscle cars during that first coming would be the Pontiac GTO. Based on the A-Body Tempest chassis in 1964, it enjoyed a glorious first-run production until 1968 when the hard and heavy body lines were redesigned to a more curvaceous, flowing version in the second generation design with the inclusion of the new “Endura” body colored bumper. 

1969 seemed to be the turning point where the revolution was at its peak; Pontiac took the GTO to a new level with the addition of “The Judge” option. The late night Rowan and Martin hit comedy LaughIn coined the infamous phrase “Here Comes Da Judge” in a skit by Sammy Davis Jr. and it stuck in people’s minds, hence the origin of the name.

General Motors saw the appeal of the masses in the sales of the previous year’s GTO and released 2,000 Carousel Red GTO Judges of the first 6,700 built that year to the public “only,” every advertisement in 1969 was the Judge in this color. It’s safe to say that in 1969 history was made with The Judge.

Fast forward almost 40 years and the appeal is still going strong. When former 2012 RPM Magazine feature car/shop owner and fellow racer, Harry Gerb at H&J Motorsports alerted us to this badass Judge tribute car, we knew we needed to get it in the pages of RPM.

The owner of this beauty is Jim Zeek of Forest Grove, PA. A heavy machine operator, Zeek is also a diehard Pontiac man and horsepower fan, to the point where his mother was still sitting in the stands at Atco Raceway two days before his birth in 1967! On Jim’s 15th birthday, with money earned from a paper route, he bought his first car for $500: a 1969 GTO with a spun bearing.

Since then, Zeek has gone on and produced several Pontiac events at Virginia Motorsports Park, Cecil County Dragway, and Maple Grove Raceway from 2004-2009. Through these events, he was able to meet some of the most historic Pontiac heroes ever—Arnie “the Farmer” Beswick, Jim Wangers, Milt Schornak—that alone is over 100 years of Pontiac history combined.

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