The owner of the “The Judge” is thinking about defending its title at Concours South Africa to be held from August 3-6 at Sun City.
Brian Joss – One of the surprise winners at the inaugural Concours South Africa held in September 2016 at the same venue was a 1970 Pontiac GTO, otherwise known as “The Judge” owned by Basil Papageorgio.
The car, a Ram Air Version of the 1970 Pontiac GTO with the optional “Judge” package, took third place overall, behind a 1985 De Tomaso Pantera GT5 and a Ferrari Testarossa from the same era. And it won its own category quite handsomely.
It is testimony to the judges’ experience and eye for detail that this car, appearing visually restrained in this era of blinged out muscle cars with giant 22 inch modern mag wheels, won the pre-1980’s sports car category in absolutely stock form, beating out some super clean entries in the overall points tally, including the likes of an Aston Martin, some exquisite Jaguar E-Types, and even a Ferrari Daytona.
The fact is, what was considered “flash” back in 1970 looks rather tame these days, if you are talking muscle cars.
“That’s a one-owner car, which I was lucky enough to buy,” says entrant Papageorgio, an enthusiast with a wide-range in collectable car tastes, and a man who also had some other notable entries at the 2016 Concours South Africa.
“It was such an amazing rush when my name was called out. Earlier in the weekend Ross Crichton, one of the principal show organisers, had told me that the standard was so high that I may as well load my cars up on the trailer and head back to Jo’burg. It was totally unexpected, then, to be placed third overall and also to win the pre-’80s category with the GTO.”
Papageorgio says that the car is one hundred per cent original, and has a mere 18 000 km logged from new and it is original down to its paint, upholstery and even the rather garish “The Judge” decal set, which includes dayglow flashes over the four wheel arches and “The Judge” decals on the quarter panels.
Other “Judge” touches include the stalk-mounted rear boot spoiler, while the Ram Air option includes twin cold-air scoops on the bonnet ducting to the air-cleaner beneath the hood, atop the standard four barrel carburettor, and the famous tachometer (rev counter) mounted on the bonnet, outside the car!
The Rally II wheels are factory correct, down to their red centre caps with PMD lettering and the tyres are period correct BF Goodrich T/A Radials, with white raised lettering. They look rather modest in their 14-inch sizing, even when offset with chrome wheel trims.
Much of this detail, so important in a concours competition, is fairly obscure in South Africa, where very few Pontiac GTOs were ever imported back in the 1960s and 1970s. But in America there is a massive cult following for the Pontiac GTO and particularly the 1970 “Judge”, as this car was considered a high point in Musclecardom. After that year, government restrictions effectively watered-down the whole muscle car movement, with horsepower restrictions increasingly enforced for the next three decades!
The standard engine for this car was a 400 cubic inch V8, peculiar to the Pontiac line, and in Judge configuration it was rated at between 360 and 370 horsepower, but pundits say the real horsepower output was well over 400, which translates to over 300 kW today.
“I am in two minds about entering the car again in 2017, and I will be in touch with Ross Crichton and Paul Kennard, the two main organisers, about whether they want a car like this to defend its title,’ says Papageorgio.
“I have two or three other cars in mind, and I’m not giving anything away right now. But as soon as entries open, for 2017, then I’ll make up my mind.
Regarding his experience of the very first Concours South Africa held at Sun City last September, Basil Papageorgio was fulsome in his praise.
“I was really surprised for what was a very first effort. The setting was amazing, just off the golf course. I don’t think they could find a better setting for this level of car show.
“The amenities at the greater Sun City complex are quite superb, and I was even surprised at how good the road was, getting there from Jo’burg. You expect potholes in that part of the world, but this wasn’t the case. And the diversity of entries was impressive.
“Regarding my other cars that I entered in 2016, I will be keen to see what the new class structure is like this year. I believe the organisers are going to have a special category for modified muscle cars, and I feel this is appropriate, as so many muscle cars are modified to some degree.
“I had two cars at Concours 2016 that fell into a category that you could call Resto-Mod, or Pro Touring, and this is a legitimate category amongst collectors in the States.
“With these old cars it boils down to whether you want a stock original car that you can admire, but has very limited street usage, or an old car that has been reworked beneath the skin. These cars, like my Plymouth Barracuda (a 9,9-litre V8 monster with huge rear rubber) and my Corvette C2 (a rare
1963 Split window model, with a modern fuel-injected Corvette V8 and uprated
brakes) are so good you can hop in them and drive them to Cape Town.
“There is an argument to keep a car stock, and I am all for that too, but it is interesting that in some cases the best resto-mod muscle cars are actually more sought-after than the standard cars, and command higher prices, in the US. It all depends how well they re-built.”
There is no doubt that in terms of general spectator appeal, when it comes to American cars the re-worked pro-touring muscle-cars are huge drawcards, especially amongst younger petrol-heads, who relate to the “Fast and Furious” type of approach to classics. But Concours d’ Elegance competitions are also all about originality as much as restoration workmanship carried out to an exalted standard, so perhaps it makes sense to cater for both schools of thought.
This year’s Concours South Africa will again be held at Sun City, alongside the Gary Player Country Club. The dates have been moved forward a month to August, and this year will include an international conference on value in the classic car market to be held on Thursday August 3. Final judging will be held on Sunday August 6, when the winners will be announced at a glamorous prize giving.
Visit: www.concourssa.co.za or contact Paul Kennard on 082 851 3300 for more info.