The Final Result
After several months, the day arrived for Monte to reclaim the freshly restored Judge. He likens the event to stepping back to 1971 and taking delivery of a new car. "I visited the body shop several times during the course of restoration, but it wasn't ever in one piece. Seeing the finished product sitting outside the shop when I drove up to take possession was jaw dropping. What started out as a simple repaint progressed into a frame-off restoration, and I was absolutely amazed at how well it turned out. It felt great to fulfill my father-in-law's dream."
Throughout the process, Monte never told his mother-in-law of the Judge's restoration. "We kept it a secret from her for several months. With just a few weeks left before we brought it home, my youngest son asked in front of her, 'So when do we get the Judge back?' We laugh now that we nearly got it completed without her ever knowing, but she was very surprised nonetheless."
The fact that only 374 Judges were produced during the '71 model year is among the many reasons Monte loves it, but he's also proud of the fact that its mileage is relatively low and its interior is completely original. "I can't imagine that there are too many Judges like it remaining. It's just a great car that turned out better than any of us ever expected," he says.
"It drives like it's new too," he adds, "The 455 H.O. runs great and you need to hold on when the secondaries open. I love to hear the full-throttle roar." It has four-wheel drum brakes, however, and that means you must always be ready to use some leg strength to get her stopped. "Whoever ordered this Judge thought a lot about going fast but put less thought into stopping," he notes.
Roger Norris purchased this...
Roger Norris purchased this Judge in 1987 and planned to eventually restore and show it. His daughter and son-in-law, Kim and Monte Town, saw the task through after his untimely passing. The odometer shows just over 44,500 miles, and the frame-off restoration lends to its factory-fresh appearance.
The Saddle interior with bucket...
The Saddle interior with bucket seats remains completely original. It was simply removed during the restoration, gently cleaned, and reinstalled during reassembly. An optional M40 Turbo 400 automatic transmission added $243, while the D55 Front Console ($61) ensured its shifter was floor mounted. The U69 AM/FM radio was a $139 option.
Since its completion, Monte hasn't taken the Judge to any shows. "I'm a total novice and would like to show it, but I don't want to do it any injustice from my lack of experience," he admits. "It's something I plan to do though." For the time being, Monte says he'll enjoy the Judge by driving it on nice days, but plans for it to spend most of its time sitting next to another of Roger's prized Pontiacs, a '79 10th Anniversary Trans Am with just 1,854 miles on it.
"There were several beautiful muscle cars in the Omaha neighborhood where I grew up, and I always dreamed of owning one. I wasn't able to then, but I feel fortunate to have this Judge and the Trans Am in my garage today. Maybe there's something to the saying, 'Good things come to those who wait,' or maybe I'm just one lucky guy," he states.
Look at it any way you want, Monte, but there's no doubt that Roger would be proud.