Pontiac GTO 1968 and 1969
Redesigned for 1968, the GTO became a little curvier with a semi-fastback rear window, not as long and a little lower but slightly heavier than previous versions with a shorter wheelbase on the two-door models. This was the last year for a vent window or “no draft” on the GTO. The stacked headlights mounted horizontally, and hidden headlights were optional, but the hidden wiper blades were on all models.
Pontiac abandoned the single hood scoop in favor of dual scoops on either side of the hood ridge, which protruded above the grille. The base car had an Endura front bumper painted the same color as the body that could absorb a five mile-per-hour impact without deforming or, as an option, an owner could also order the Endura delete, and it would then have a chrome bumper and grille assembly; the latter is a very rare option. The GTO could have an optional tachometer mounted in the dash, or as an alternate option a hood-mounted version was also available.
The car came with disc brakes all around or an owner could order it with four-piston caliper brakes in front. The power option increased to 350 bph (260 kW) at 5000 rpm but all the same offers as the previous year except the all new Ram Air II package was added, which produced the same as the power option.Hot Rod magazine called the 1968 GTO the best balanced car Pontiac ever built. Car and Driver said it was too easy to spin the tires and lose control.
The stock GTO with a four-speed on the standard engine could do the quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds and reach 97 mph (157 km/h). The Ram Air is slightly quicker with a 4.33 rearend and could do the quarter-mile in 14.45 seconds and reach 98.2 mph (158 km/h).
The 1969 GTO had some changes. The exterior vent windows are gone for a cleaner look, the grille restyled, and the taillights revised as well as side marker lights added. In the passenger compartment, the key was put on the steering column and a locking steering wheel was standard equipment. The economy engine package with the 400-cubic-inch V8 stayed the same, but the 360 hp (270 kW) changed with 366 hp (273 kW) at 5100 rpm.
If gas mileage wasn’t a concern, the top option is the hydraulic lifter Ram Air IV with header-like, high-flow exhaust manifolds, high-flow cylinder heads, an aluminum intake, and a large Rochester Quadra Jet four-barrel mounted on top of it. Inside the engine, the cam changed for higher lift and longer duration as well as other parts to withstand higher output and higher speeds.
The biggest “tongue-in-cheek” news in 1969 for the GM Corporation and the GTO was the introduction of The Judge model GTO and the free advertising ploy that came from the television show Laugh-In when Sammy Davis Jr. mimicked Pigmeat Markham, an entertainer from the 1920s and 1930s, with his routine “Here Come da Judge.” Those four words, due to the show, became a fad saying of the time, and they were heard everywhere. With advertising slogans like “The judge can be bought” and “All rise for the judge,” this budget-entry GTO model was a big hit, in red only at first, with all the other available colors introduced later in the year.