1969 Pontiac GTO JudgeMENTAL

Filed in Pontiac GTO, Pro Tour by on August 29, 2016 • views: 3514

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Don and Darren Nickleson grew up with a gearhead father, so it was only natural they’d follow in his footsteps. As Don bought and fixed up cars, Darren joined in. Darren eventually started Indy Street Rod and Classics, a successful collision repair shop that also builds high-end rods and street machines.

“I’d been looking for someone to finance a build that would showcase my company,” says Darren. “By chance, Don and Denise were after a car to take them back down memory lane, so a 1969 GTO was the only choice. We wanted it to be a proper new-age take on the classic GTO Judge, so it had to have awesome styling, tremendous power and incredible handling and agility.”

The 2-1/2 year build started with a Street Rod Garage chassis that was narrowed in the rear to accept the 20×12-inch Budnik Cannon wheels. It also allowed the fitment of a better suspension for the desired Pro Tour theme.
QA1 coilovers and a Flaming River rack ’n’ pinion steering system work with the super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport rubber and huge Wilwood.

While the chassis might have been a simple solution, the body turned out to need a lot more work. A genuine rust-free ’69 GTO had been purchased sight unseen from Arizona for the shell. They discovered that rust free doesn’t mean dent free, and every panel other than the trunk lid, and floorpans were changed. Some of the metal was relaced with Dynacorn replacement panels, and rest was modified.

The front valance, grilles, guards and sills were all modified, and the radiator, fan shrouds, and firewall were replaced with smooth sheetmetal. Finishing touches include painted front grilles and headlight bezels. Fiberglass back bumper, intake, and Judge-style rear wing. And Ring Brothers bonnet hinges, door handles, and master cylinder covers.

The GTO was then sprayed with eye-searing Carousel Red, and then airbrushed with period-cool graphics.
Inside, Don monitors Classics Instruments that feature JudgeMENTAL logos and works a Hurst shifter connected to the Tremec T56 Magnum gearbox. The seats are Cutter’s Custom Stitching modified front and rear Elite bucket seats, while the rest of the interior is trimmed in all in grey and black leather. Cutter’s also built front and rear consoles, along with a custom dash housing a monster Kenwood stereo system.

The one thing that makes this GTO so cool is that it sticks with Pontiac power. Butler Performance took a 400ci block, used a 4.25-inch Mogul crank to take it out to 505 cubic inches and filled it with custom Ross pop-top pistons, Streetmaster oil pump, Eagle H-beam conrods, Comp cam and Federal bearings.

The original round-port Ram Air IV heads are massively desirable for Pontiac fans, but Don wanted to go further than factory, so Edelbrock 87cc round-port heads were fitted, filled with 1.770in exhaust valves and 2.90in intake valves to make use of all 505 cubes.

As the Pontiac was designed to perform like a modern car, fuel injection was needed to make it run crisply at part or trailing throttle. EZ-EFI got the nod, using an Edelbrock Victor inlet manifold and FAST throttlebody.
It adds up to a super-stout 660hp and 630lb-ft of torque, more than enough to hustle the monster Goat to serious speeds.

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Check out www.indystreetrodsandclassics.com

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