MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Award-Winning Automotive Historian & Researcher
Images courtesy of GM Media Archives
Published 3.6.2024

1970 Pontiac GTO GM Media Archives RESIZED 11970 Pontiac GTO (GM Media Archives)

For the 1970 model year, the new Pontiac GTO models were totally redesigned. Some automotive historians have called the 1970 GTO models a style of rolling sculpture. The front bumpers and grill were designed out of a single piece of Endura rubber. The windshield wipers and the radio antenna were concealed, there were dual scoops on the hood. The GTO models offered great styling, which many drivers thoroughly enjoyed.

Sales material for the 1970 Pontiac GTO GM Media Archives 2Art for sales material for the 1970 Pontiac GTO (GM Media Archives)

The GTO models were created by John DeLorean, Bill Collins and Russ Gee for General Motors’ Pontiac Division in the 1960s and 1970s. They created a popular muscle car that appealed to the younger generation and created huge profits. Pontiac always had a great reputation for performance and handling, and automotive historians have said that the GTO is considered to be the vehicle that started the muscle car revolution in the early 1960s.

1970 Pontiac GTO front end Oldcarmemories.com RESIZED 31970 Pontiac GTO front end 

The 1970 GTO models offered a high-compression engine, along with lots of high-performance packages. Some automotive historians have said that 1970 marked the peak for the era of muscle car culture, and the GTO became a true leader within the muscle car category.

Pricing for the 1970 Pontiac Judge hardtop was $3,267, and the convertibles sold for $3,492. Pontiac manufactured 3,635 hard top units  and 162 convertibles in 1970. Although the 1970 GTO models didn’t live up to the great sales compared to the previous year’s editions, they still were very good-looking vehicles that have a huge following today.

A 1970 Pontiac GTO ad GM Media Archives 4Promotional materials for 1970 Pontiacs (GM Media Archives)

The 1970 GTO models also offered the consumer a split grille that was very attractive with quad headlamps which were moved outside of the grille area. The 1970 GTO also introduced a redesigned bumper which was a new valance panel with cutouts for quad exhaust tips located underneath with a rear airfoil that was also redesigned.

The 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge GM Media Archives 5The 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge (GM Media Archives)

Other features in the 1970 GTO included an AM/FM stereo radio with an 8-track tape player and a great sound system which was a plus for many young drivers. One of the most popular colors for the 1970 GTO models was a color called “Orbit Orange.”  

For 1970, the GTO offered to uncover the headlamps with squared off chrome bezels that looked great. The Pontiac Judge offered special stripes on the fender with accent lines with a great-looking rear-deck aerodynamic spoiler. The Ram-Air system used on the 1970 GTO had double doors and hood scoops that were manually controlled by the driver. The GTO name plate was located on the left side of the left-hand grille.

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge CarsWallup.net RESIZED 61970 Pontiac GTO Judge (CarsWallup.net)

MJ Frumkin, author of “Classic Muscle Car Advertising: the Art of Selling Horsepower,” said “The Humbler was how Pontiac termed its mid-size GTO muscle car in several ads.” Pontiac used “We take the fun of driving seriously” as a slogan to suggest its cars would enable you to put down those upstart competitive brands. 1970 Pontiac GTO advertising appeared in Car and Driver, Car Craft and Motor Trend magazines.

Another 1970 Pontiac GTO ad GM Media Archives RESIZED 7Another 1970 Pontiac GTO ad (GM Media Archives)

In conclusion, the 1970 Pontiac GTO models captured the hearts and wallets of the motoring public and press during the late 1960s and 1970s. This was an era when high-performance cars, later coined muscle cars, gave drivers a mystical period in the history of American automobiles that will always be fondly remembered.

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible Hemmings.com 81970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible (Hemmings.com)

Bibliography

Bonsall, Thomas E. “Pontiac The Complete History 1926-1986.” Motorbooks International, 1985.  

Frumkin, MJ. “Classic Muscle Car Advertising: the Art of Selling Horsepower.” Krause Publications, 2002.

DeMauro, Thomas A. “1970 Pontiac GTO Judge.” Hemmings.com, September 23, 2018.