Aside from the aggressive...
Aside from the aggressive stance and the larger Rally II wheels, one would be hard-pressed to spot Steve Brazile's Judge as the Pro-Touring machine that it is. A careful combination of modern chassis upgrades, a nasty Pontiac V-8, and a stock-appearing exterior would even have the most ardent purist nodding in approval.
With the original Ram Air...
With the original Ram Air III long gone, Steve opted for an extreme-duty 467 Pontiac based on an IA block and wide-port Butler/Edelbrock heads. Induction is by way of an Edelbrock Performer RPM and 850 Holley. The Ram Air pan is topped off with K&N filter top.
At a glance, the interior...
At a glance, the interior looks stock with Parchment upholstery and a wood wheel, but there is more than meets the eye. White-face gauges replace the factory dials, and a short Hurst shifter operates a Tremec TKO five-speed.
Classic GTO lines are accentuated...
Classic GTO lines are accentuated with enlarged Rally IIs and low-profile Bridgestone rubber. This is as tasteful a series of modifications as the author has seen to date.
It seems that the whole Pro-Touring phenomenon has taken on a life of its own. The idea is simple, but in many cases, the execution can be insanely complex, time-consuming, and costly. Take an older vehicle from the '50s-'70s and inject it with the handling and performance of a late-model performance machine. It's like having the best of both eras; timeless styling with cutting-edge performance that rivals the best that a 21st-century automaker can dish out.
That's the simple part. What makes it more difficult is how far to go and how much of a beating the wallet can take. For some, it can be as simple as lowering the ride height and adding a set of 18- or 20-inch wheels and tires. This way the originality of the vehicle is not compromised, and it can be returned to stock with little trouble. The results, while visually pleasing, often fall short of the mark.
For others, that approach won't cut it, and "cut" is the operative word here. Those seeking the most outrageous and leading-edge Pro-Touring car will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. They will take torch to metal and won't stop until it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between their 30-year-old dream car and the underside of a C6 Corvette. Though the end result is often a spectacular blending of automotive generations, any hope of preserving originality is lost.
What does the owner of an original musclecar do when faced with the Pro-Touring performance versus factory-stock originality debate? On one hand, the idea is to make the car more enjoyable to drive, but on the other, no one wants to butcher a valuable piece of motoring history.
Perhaps there is a happy medium, and if there is, St. Louis, Missouri-resident Steve Brazile has found it. The 45-year-old Sara Lee executive's approach to the Pro-Touring movement involves a genuine '69 Judge that is modified to perform like a new GTO, and pack an even larger wallop, all the while looking like a factory-stock machine. Now, before you get your undergarments in an uncomfortable bunch, rest assured that this corner-carving beauty hasn't had any modifications that can't be returned to factory stock. All of the original parts that were removed are in safe storage and can be returned to their original mounting points without modification.
"This is a real Judge," Brazile said in a recent phone interview. "I wanted modern performance and handling, but there was no way I was going to do anything to this car that couldn't be returned to stock in the future. That was my rule, and I stuck with it."
That being said, little was spared in the quest for better performance and a somewhat-updated appearance. Starting with a decent, driver-quality example with a non-original drivetrain, Steve tore down the car in his home shop and started the laborious process of creating his vision.
The stock chassis retains its original configuration but benefits from a host of aftermarket upgrades. Up front, Hotchkis tubular upper and lower control arms are lined with polyurethane bushings and are connected to a pair of taller B-body spindles for improved bumpsteer control. Proper ride height is provided by a pair of QA1 adjustable coilovers. Body roll is controlled with a Hotchkis 1.5-inch front stabilizer bar, and a 12.7:1 Detroit Speed & Engineering steering box keeps the Judge between the guardrails.
Similarly, the rear suspension also features a variety of Hotchkis components, including 1-inch drop-coil springs, 1-inch stabilizer bar, and lower trailing arms. The ride is smoothed out with QA1 adjustable shocks. Stopping power is provided by Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes with four-piston calipers all around.