A rare and now sought-after option offered for a short time in '70 was the now-legendary Vacuum Operated Exhaust (V.O.E.) exhaust system. It featured vacuum-controlled internal muffler baffles to alter the sound level of the exhaust system. The system was engaged by a knob under the dash and was not available with Ram Air, meaning that only the base engine and the 455 H.O. were eligible for this option. Factory records indicate that only 233 cars received this option before it was canceled.

A relaxing of tariffs between the U.S. and Canada meant that there was no longer a need for the Beaumont sub-marque, so it was replaced with American-spec Pontiacs, which began selling in Canada. As a result, Pontiac GTOs gained another assembly plant, Oshawa, Ontario. Some Judges were built there, though factory records show that none of them were Ram Air IV cars. If your '70 GTO has a 1 in the seventh position of its VIN, it is a Canadian-built car.

The Judge

The Judge returned for '70, with updates to a complement the new bodywork. The new color Orbit Orange replaced Carousel Red. New tri-color stripes that augmented the eyebrow contour of the fenders were added to the lineup early in the model year, though some cars came through with the '69 design for striping. A new dual- pedestal, rear-deck wing bowed for '70. Its design created a bit of down force, as opposed to the lift that the '69 designs added to the mix. Polar White Judges could have the spoiler painted matte black. Some '70 Judges also received a chin spoiler, though it's not clear why.

Like the GTO, Judge production dropped off dramatically, with the year's tally ending at 3,797 units, of which just 168 were convertibles.

Here Comes The ... GT-37

Pontiac was not in an enviable position in '70, which is somewhat ironic, since '69 had been its best-selling year. With the sales of muscle cars dropping off and Pontiac having so much of its identity based on performance, it dusted off the Tempest E.T. concept and released a new line of insurance-friendly performance cars midway through the model year.

John Z. DeLorean's successor, new Pontiac General Manager F. James McDonald, had risen through the ranks on the manufacturing sides of Pontiac and Chevrolet, and was previously Chevrolet's director of manufacturing. Seeing Pontiac's recent reversal of fortune, he decided that dropping base prices would stimulate sales. He added a heavily decontented line of A-bodies, known as the T-37. It is from this line of cars that Pontiac released its own Road Runner-beater, the GT-37.

It was a sporty but spartan machine that could be ordered on either the pillared-coupe or hardtop-coupe body style. Its base engine was a 350/two-barrel with a floor-shifted, heavy-duty, three-speed manual transmission. Optional engines included a 400-inch V-8 in two-barrel or four-barrel versions. Two and three-speed automatic transmissions were also available. Standard equipment included a GTO-style dual exhaust with chrome tips, G70-14 raised-white-letter tires, Rally II wheels without trim rings, '69 Judge-style fender stripes, hoodpins, a 140-mph speedometer, and GT-37 badging. A rear wing was available, but bucket seats were not.

Other performance-oriented options could be had on the GT-37, such as limited-slip differential, heavy-duty frame, and heavy-duty suspension. In a case of bad timing, the 350 H.O. engine was dropped for '70. It would have been the perfect performance engine for an insurance-conscious performance-car buyer. Production of the '70 GT-37 stood at 1,419 units.

Promotion

"The Great One" promotional campaign for the '67-'69 GTO had run its course. It was replaced by "The Humbler," which was used in print ads and television commercials. Perhaps the most memorable TV spot promoted the V.O.E system, and it aired during the '70 Super Bowl. In it, an early '70 GTO with '69 stripes is seen slowly cruising through a drive-in restaurant, its young driver confidently wheeling the GTO through the parking lot, making sure everyone sees and hears the new Goat with its mufflers in the loudposition. At the end, the announcer says, "The Humbler is here. This is the way it's going to be, baby."

The Humbler campaign was used in several versions, one being a three-page foldout with a Cardinal Red GTO coupe. (It appeared in the Oct. '69 issue of Hot Rod.) Another ad showed six young boys, three to a side, leaning on a Cardinal Red GTO with the tagline, "The Quick Way out of the Minor Leagues." It was clear, though, that the era of aggressive, youth- oriented advertising had come to a close. Even this watered-down ad created outrage from safety groups in and out of the federal government.

Performance

In a reversal of long-standing policy, Pontiac Chief Engineer Steve Malone cancelled the Royal Pontiac-prepped Pontiac test-car fleet. The pool of magazine tests dropped off dramatically. The absence of Bobcatted ringers meant the big performance numbers needed to sell GTOs were not appearing in magazines, and the articles that were published featured stock, showroom cars. The reality was that real-world performance numbers hadn't changed much for '70, though the perception was that they certainly had.

A good case in point was Car and Driver's test of a loaded '70 455 GTO four-speed with an open 3.31 rearend. Outfitted with air conditioning, and power windows and door locks, it was certainly not something that would have come out of the Royal Pontiac test-car pool. With a very hefty 4,209-pound curb weight, the GTO clicked off a 0-60 in 6.6 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 15.0 seconds at 96.5 mph. Considering the mild gear and porky test weight, it was a respectable performance for what it was—but not compared to the competition.

Faring a bit better, Car Life did a side-by-side test of two GTOs: a Ram Air III 400/four-speed with 3.90 gears, along with another loaded 455-powered GTO. This one was an automatic with Ram Air and a 3.55 gear with Safe-T-Track. The 4,230-pound Ram Air III ran 0-60 mph in 6 seconds flat, with a quarter-mile time of 14.60 at 99.55 mph. The 455 ran a 6.6-second 0-60 and posted a 14.76 at 95.94 mph with a massive 4,455-pound test weight.

Road Test magazine tested a Ram Air III 400/four-speed Judge with 3.55 Safe-T-Track and a more reasonable 3,780-pound test weight. It ran a 14.77 e.t. at 94.42 mph.

Production Figures

As mentioned, production numbers for the '70 GTO dropped significantly from the previous year, less than 42 percent of the peak year of '66. The year ended with 40,149 units out the door—3,784 convertibles and the 3,797 Judges.

As time progressed, the GTO found itself facing more hurdles, more regulation, and fewer buyers. The entire muscle-car segment was finding itself forced out of fashion, and things would continue to get worse.

The 4,230-pound Ram Air III ran 0-60 mph in 6 seconds flat, with a quarter-mile time of 14.60 at 99.55 mph