By Tim Linscott Managing Editor
In 1970, John Long drove a brand new green (with a lime yellow racing stripe and spoiler) GTO Judge, with 360 horsepower under the hood, off of the Bullock Chevrolet car lot.
A junior in college, Long noted the feeling of power and pride he had as he rumbled slowly down the street in what would become one of the most storied muscle cars in history.
“It is a fond memory of my life,” Long said, adding that he never pushed the car to its 140 mph limit. “I didn’t believe in driving that fast, so I never got it there (140 mph). However, my friends did.”
Long drove the vehicle for six years. With a new wife, Kris, a year old baby, John, Jr., a new career, Long didn’t have the funds to maintain such a vehicle.
“We knew we shouldn’t get rid of it, but we had no storage, no knowledge of maintaining a car like that and we were broke,” Long recalled, noting he would buy a ‘hand me down’ station wagon from his father that was used at the funeral home.
Long would sell the vehicle to Scott Bullock, son of the car dealer he originally bought the vehicle from, to which Bullock drove the Judge all through high school. Bullock would eventually part with the vehicle as well.
With the impending auction of hundreds of rare cars, including a 1969 GTO Judge, featuring the classic ‘Orbit Orange’ color, Long may look at the cars in admiration, but will not be purchasing another hot rod.
“I’m 64 and I have great memories of that time, but I’m not really a muscle car guy,” Long said. “My wife probably drove it faster than I did, I really never really needed a car like that.”
Long feels the upcoming auction will be a huge cultural phenomenon in Grant.
“I don’t think the people of Grant know how important of a cultural gathering is going to happen Sept. 6,” Long said. “This will be a major happening.”
Long’s story of selling a muscle car when starting out his family is a familiar one.
Long paid $3,400 for the GTO Judge in 1970. Legend has it he was told it was found in a car magazine for sale....with a price tag of $75,000.