Rut Johnson, a friend of Milton's, originally purchased this '69 Judge convertible from Chapman Motor Company in Gainesville, Georgia, Milton's hometown. About 18 years ago, Milton and Rut were reminiscing about the Judge, and they started wondering what happened to it. Then, it resurfaced in the early '90s. "I heard about a black R/A-IV Judge convertible for sale in Phoenix, Arizona," said Milton. "So I called on it and set up a time to fly out and look over the car. When I got there, the owner didn't want to give me the time of day! I asked to see the PHS documentation, and he said that he couldn't find it. After checking out the car, I took down the VIN and sent away to PHS for the information."
The PHS documentation revealed that the Starlight Black Judge convertible with the L67 370-horse Ram Air IV and four-speed trans was in fact ordered through Chapman Motor Company. Milton had found the car. "I immediately called the owner to buy the Judge, and he told me that it was already sold, which I had suspected by his actions," Milton said. However, the owner did provide the name of the buyer, so Milton got in touch with the new owner, Steve Ames of Ames Performance Engineering. The two collectors became friends over the ensuing years.
"When I got the Judge, it was in primer, but the underside was very clean, there wasn't even any scale on the frame or floors," Steve said. "I told Milton that he would have the first opportunity to buy it if I ever decided to sell it." After about 10 years of sitting in storage at Ames, Steve finally decided that he probably wasn't going to restore the Judge since he already had the first Ram Air IV four-speed convertible Judge. So in 2000, he offered it to Milton.
Though the Judge was in obvious need of restoration, it was extremely rare and was nicely equipped from the factory--WT1 Judge option, Ram Air IV engine, and hideaway headlights notwithstanding. It had a close-ratio four-speed and a 3.90 heavy-duty Safe-T-Track rear, not to mention power disc brakes. Creature comforts included an 8-Track; visor mirrors for driver and passenger; Deluxe seatbelts; Custom Sports (wood) wheel; remote deck-lid release; front and rear floormats; underhood and luggage lamps; pushbutton AM radio; door-edge guards; remote rearview mirror; Rally gauges with tach and clock; console; power steering; and tinted glass. The suggested retail price in 1969 was $5,147.27, though we bet Milton had to pay a bit more than that when he bought it.
Once it was back in Georgia, Milton had the Judge concours restored by Gilbert Propes in Cornelia, Georgia, over a four-year period, with the paint and bodywork performed by Jerry and Brian Williams, also in Cornelia. The Judge now features a correct and properly date-coded drivetrain. "This is the best and rarest of all the Judges," Milton said. "It's the only black-on-black R/A-IV four-speed Judge convertible built!"