Q: Greg, I enjoy your articles very much and when I read your article on “Long lost opportunities” and the one’s that got away it really struck a chord with me.

When I was just a “kid” in 1974, I bought a used car that was priced right. For $1000 I became the proud owner of a 1970 Pontiac GTO Ram Air IV 400 Judge with factory traction bars, a Hurst 4 speed and active cowl induction. With the gas and oil crisis in full swing, muscle cars were on the outs and the car had been scraped up previously. The fender and door repairs were done very well (not a bunch of Bondo) but the original owner had the bright idea to paint it a nice metallic gold, remove all of the badges and put a VINYL top on it. It only had 26,000 miles and the interior was pristine so it was a really nice car. It was also a real sleeper! With the vinyl top and sans badges, most folks thought it was a wannabe GTO but really a Tempest with an add-on spoiler.” What fun I had when the 400 engine roared and the L50 x 15 tires started smoking!

I really didn’t make any “performance” upgrades, they weren’t needed. I did put a sweet set of Cragar five- spoke wheels and the aforementioned tires on it and I thought I’d done very well for myself. A little over a year and a half later, when I sold it for $2200 to get money for a down payment on a starter house for my new bride and I.

Selling the GTO Judge Goat AND the wife in question were both bad decisions!

Since there were fewer than 700 of the 4-speed GTO Judge Ram Air IV 400’s produced in 1970, I can imagine it would be worth a bit more today. Can you tell me more about my “lost love” and what it could be worth today?

Thanks for the wonderful articles! Regards, Gary W. Silvers, Washington.

A: Gary, first thanks much for your kind words and excellent letter. I’m receiving lots of mail on my request for “The one’s that got away” from readers, but yours sure stands out for obvious reasons.

That “little GTO” you bought for $1,000 in 1974 just happens to be one of the rarest GTOs ever produced, thanks to its Judge and Ram Air IV nomenclature. Today, a GTO like yours repainted to original colors and sporting the correct Judge stripes and Ram Air IV badges will fetch an easy ... please hold on … average retail of $86,000 according to NADA Classic Car pricing. A low end price for a GTO Judge not in great shape is $47,000.

As for a perfectly restored, pristine 1970 GTO Judge Ram Air IV with the Hurst 4-speed, (hold onto your hat), we’re talking a high retail of $205,530. Yes … over $200,000 for a pristine Ram Air IV, 4-speed Judge.

In summary, the base high retail is $132,000 for a 1970 Judge. But the Ram Air IV 370-horse V-8 adds an immediate 35-percent while the Hurst/Muncie 4-speed adds another 15-percent to the base resulting in the over $200K value thanks to the rarity of just 700 ever built. Your car is perhaps the one Pontiac that can hold serious collector car value against all those 429 Boss Mustangs, 426 Hemi Challengers and L-88 Corvettes.

Thanks much for your letter, and remember that just about everyone gave up on our muscle cars from the high-performance era. Me? I traded my 1968 Camaro SS/RS L78 396/375 on a brand-new 1973 Dodge pickup with a slant six engine because I was moving in October of 1973.

Today, my Camaro is bringing an easy $50,000.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now, BestRide.com and other Gatehouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions on old cars, auto nostalgia and old-time motorsports at 116 Main St., Towanda, PA 18848 or at greg@gregzyla.com.