Rare Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge

- in Cars

The year was 1981 when a teenage Tim Burton first caught a glimpse of the two cars that would be burned into his memory for decades to come.

“There were two Pontiacs in my neighborhood that really caught my eye,” he said. “One was a 1969 Limelight Green GTO Judge and the other was a 1973 Brewster Green SD Trans Am. These cars would race up and down the road all the time, and that memory just stuck in my head.”

1969 Limelight Green GTO Judge and 1973 Brewster Green SD Trans Am
Little did he know that someday he’d own both of these cars. However, the road to obtaining his dream cars took a lot of time, research and elbow grease.

“After the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, I decided that life was too short and I was working too much,” Burton said. “I started reconnecting with old friends and making time available for my long-put-off hobbies. That’s when I started looking for these iconic cars from my youth. In 2002, I started searching for both of these cars in those rare colors,” he continued. “I located the Brewster Green 1973 Trans Am and bought it immediately.”

Burton posted want ads on numerous Pontiac web forums to find the 1969 GTO Judge. Finally, in 2006, a man e-mailed Burton about a car he had for sale that matched Burton’s requested dream car: a Limelight Green 1969 GTO Judge.

Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge front end
“Most people think that Judges only came in orange,” Burton said. “It amazes me how many people I meet who have never seen a Limelight Green GTO, let alone a Judge.”

After purchasing the car, Burton and his young son set out from Denver to Wisconsin to pick it up. The car was complete but had been partially disassembled, and many of its parts were in boxes, which Burton happily loaded up and brought all the way home to Colorado. This road trip was another part of a very long journey Burton took getting his dream car.

Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge front left
“I spent the next two years researching the tiniest details and buying up as many rare NOS parts as I could find to make this the best 1969 Judge that I could,” he said. “In March 2008, I sent the car over to my friend Gary Riley of Level One Restoration to start the body and paint work. I restored the chassis while they had the body on the rotisserie. Once they were finished with the car, I started the process of putting it all back together.”

Burton relied on Riley, as well as input from several other GTO experts including Norm Warling and John Kryta, to help him build the numbers-correct Judge. Over 3,000 hours were invested in the build, some of it spent researching parts numbers and markings as well as other technical details.

Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge rear right
The car’s drivetrain and all accessories are numbers-correct and date-coded. Its factory-installed options include a four-speed M21 transmission, special-order Safe-T-Track HD axle with 3.90 gears, original in-dash gauge package and AM/FM radio, wood steering wheel, and power steering. The date-coded tinted glass even uses a cloth-impregnated-style mounting tape to hold in the windshield and back glass, just like GM used in 1969.

Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO interior
Under the hood sits a WS block, 400-ci 1969 Ram Air 3 engine that delivers 366 horsepower. The driveshaft is original but has been rebalanced and has NOS U-joints. The original 3.90-geared rear axle has been rebuilt. The brakes are original date-coded front and rear drums.

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air 3 engine
The car’s body wasn’t modified and is all-original, except for the rear quarter panels, which had to be replaced. The trunk, hood, fenders, doors, rockers, floors and deck lid are all stock.

Because most people are used to seeing GTO Judges that are orange, the green coloring makes the car stand out.

The Judge logo on Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO
“It’s definitely a love-it-or-hate-it color for people,” Burton said. “I would say that half of the people that talk to me at shows say, ‘Beautiful car, but why did you paint it that color?’”

However, there seems to be plenty of people who disagree. In fact, Burton’s Judge has won numerous awards, including Concours Gold and Concours Best Restored at the GTOAA International Meet, and a Concours Gold Jr. award at the POCI Convention.

Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge rear end
The Judge also had the special honor of being chosen as one of the 30 rare muscle cars that were displayed on the lawn of the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles at the recent Muscle Cars at the Mansion event. Burton’s car received countless compliments and even got the nod of approval from Miss Hurst Golden Shifter Linda Vaughn for having its original Hurst shifter.

“I was very fortunate to have found the two iconic Pontiacs that had haunted my memory since I was 14 years old,” Burton said. “It’s been a lot of hard work but [it was] a fantastic journey to put this Judge back together. I really enjoy meeting other GTO enthusiasts and sharing stories and restoration tips.

Limelight Green 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge right side
Learn more about 1969 Pontiac GTO “The Judge” here.

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