Roger Poirier's '69 Judge served time as rusty high school transportation and was later transformed into a show-stopping Pro Touring machine, but it wasn't an easy road, nor a short one.
Sometimes the restoration process can take longer than expected. You go in with a plan and a budget and soon both are overextended. For Roger, this meant over 30 years and four separate restorations before he finally reached his restomod goals.
When Roger turned 16 in 1974, he bought his dream car, a real '69 GTO Judge. He first saw it driving down the road when he was in the 6th grade and fell in love, but never dreamed he would purchase the very same Pontiac several years later for $800.
During the final restoration and modifications performed by Motor City Steel, Roger Poirie
Since he lived in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, the Goat had seen its fair share of tough winters and had acquired the usual rust spots on the body panels. His first goal was to buy every N.O.S. part available, which he did. "At one point, I had nearly every part of the car, minus the body, in the basement of my parents' home," says Roger.
Three Resto Misfires
In 1976, on the recommendation of a friend, he took the Judge to a small shop that supposedly did top-notch work. Roger supplied new doors, fenders, quarter panels, hood, and trunk floor, and the shop supplied the expertise. He didn't have to dip into his stockpile of N.O.S. parts at this point since most of the originals were in good condition. When Roger was 18, the first restoration was complete. He felt the Judge was perfect and he enjoyed it for about four summers in metro Detroit.
Well, as the story always goes: you meet someone, fall in love, get married, purchase a home, have a child, and your "toys" quickly take a backseat to real life. Consequently, Roger's Judge sat in storage for 10 years. When he moved and took it out of storage in 1992, he was finally able to evaluate the bodywork that was performed back in his high school days. "I don't know what I was thinking then, but it looked awful!" he exclaims.
His stockpile of N.O.S. parts was used to bring the 30-year-old project to fruition. It le
Restoration number two ensued. Since he lived in the Detroit area, Windsor, Canada, was very close. His father explained to him that he could get his work done in Canada and save money. At the time, the Canadian dollar was worth about half the value of an American dollar (Not so, today, eh! Ed.). That meant he would theoretically get twice the work done for the same amount of money. So in 1994, the Goat was off to Canada.
As with any work performed on the Pontiac, Roger insisted that he be actively involved in the build process. He saw the first signs of trouble when the frame was sandblasted and the shop left all the suspension components on, including the wheels and tires. This left him with a three-quarter sandblasted frame. Later, when it came out of the spray booth still dripping with paint, Roger pulled the plug. "I knew at that moment that I didn't want this guy touching my Judge any longer. I had to bring it home and explain to my wife why I needed to get it to yet another shop and have it repainted again," he says.
Roger let the runny Pontiac sit in his garage for several months while he thoroughly searched for a quality paint facility to bring his prized GTO back. He finally enlisted a well-known local painter and previous winner of the "Best Paint" award at the prestigious Autorama in Detroit. The owner allowed Roger to work on the Judge, a great learning experience for him, but required that his Pontiac be out of the shop in three months.
Three months turned into 10 years. Roger's health took a few hits when he blew out his back and fell victim to several other injuries that required extensive surgeries, leaving him on the permanently disabled list. Work on the A-Body continued, but after 10 years and $10,000, the GTO still wasn't in paint, so he pulled it out of the shop and put it back into storage.