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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, just a little introduction. New around here but been on the LS1 site for a while. I have owned several GTO's over the years, a 68, 69 and 72 and am currently driving an 05 MBM.

Well I am happy to say my wife and I are picking up our new project car Saturday. A 1969 Pontiac Custom-S. We had been watching American Musclecar about the 69 Judge and she turned to me and said "we need to get one of those for a project car" ... I said YES WE DO. Of course budget minded as always, we planned to make a Judge "tribute car" out of a standard 69 GTO. Then I found the Custom-S.

Now the Pontiac history, for those that do not know.

In 1969 Pontiac brass was a little concerned about all the interest in the new Roadrunner from Plymouth, it was a stripped down race car for the "young hipsters" and it was dirt cheap compared to the high optioned GTO that had been at the top of the heap for the 64 and 65 model years. (Back when the goat was still cheap)

So the Pontiac design team came up with a plan, a stripped down hot rod version of the GTO flagship, and it would also be based on the Tempest platform. They called this crazy new car the "ET" for Elapsed Time, a stripped down GTO with a HO 350 and minimal options, sporting a Carousel Red paint job, a spoiler and racing stripes down the side.

Pontiac brass did NOT take kindly to this, specifically John DeLorean refused to undercut his baby the GTO with a stripped down version being sold for less. BUT....he loved the styling and adopted it to be the 69 GTO Judge.

The "ET" did survive as well, but was renamed the Custom-S. Only available for one year, it wasn't a Tempest, it wasn't a LeMans, it wasn't a GTO, it was somewhere in the middle.

I found it funny that we wanted a Judge clone and we found the original Judge concept to make into one.

Well here she is, I will be updating as we get her home and start the process.



 

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I'm old enough to remember the Custom-S. IIRC, the base engine was the OHC 6 cylider but they also offered a 'Sprint' version of that engine as well as a 2 bbl and 4 bbl version of the 350. I seem to remember something about them being initially being called the 'TC' rather than the 'ET' before they became the Custom-S. Didn't go over real big and, as you said, only lasted that one year.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm old enough to remember the Custom-S. IIRC, the base engine was the OHC 6 cylider but they also offered a 'Sprint' version of that engine as well as a 2 bbl and 4 bbl version of the 350. I seem to remember something about them being initially being called the 'TC' rather than the 'ET' before they became the Custom-S. Didn't go over real big and, as you said, only lasted that one year.
:agree
Indeed the base engine was the OHC 6 and it's one of the hardest engines to source now-a-days. The $350 4bbl was rated at a respectable 350hp though and the "kids" loved em.

Mine has a 68 400 4bbl and a TH400 from a GTO so she already beats with the heart of a goat. I will be hunting for a 69 400 RA IV and 4 speed for her as I rebuild her.

Thanks for the comment!
 

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I will be hunting for a 69 400 RA IV and 4 speed for her as I rebuild her.
Bring truckloads of cash --- real RA IV's are hard to find and expensive!

Unless you're a stickler for the factory look, the hot ticket would be to drop a stroker kit and a good cam into the 400 you have and build a 461 out of it. It'll make significantly more power than a RA IV and have better street manners to boot.

Bear
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Bring truckloads of cash --- real RA IV's are hard to find and expensive!

Unless you're a stickler for the factory look, the hot ticket would be to drop a stroker kit and a good cam into the 400 you have and build a 461 out of it. It'll make significantly more power than a RA IV and have better street manners to boot.

Bear
I have actually been thinking about building a 455 HO or SD hybrid RA motor. Something along those lines, using aftermarket RA heads and intake. Still kicking it around. It's quite a luxury having a running 400 in the car. Actually a luxury not having to count on it as a DD, or having to have it run at all. Once I get her in the garage and start pulling the interior and the nose/front clip off I may just pull the 400 and tranny and sell them. Haven't decided yet. I like the thought of the torque numbers from the 455 and the durability of the 4 bolt mains.
 

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as Bear said the 400 stroker is your better bet, when stroked your at a 455 .030 over cubic inch #'s. the strokers are stronger because they use the smaller crank journals of the 400 (less bearing surface and more meat in the webs, and unless you are planning on putting out over 600 HP the two bolt mains are fine, also the RA heads (again expensive) will have too much Compression for a pump gas friendly engine your best bet is aluminum heads or stock heads that will get your compression down to 9.5:1, ask Bear he had to jump through some hoops to use his RA heads....nice ride, i say keep it a Custom - S they are rare and a clone is just a clone. will see all kinds of judges and GTO's at cruises and shows but yours will be the only Custom -S.

I just finished my 66 Tempest Custom and wrestled with the clone issue as well, but in the end i like the fact that it's one of a kind and not a clone....



1966 Tempest pictures by instg8ter - Photobucket

Brian
 

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Like Bear and Instig8ter said: a stroked 400 is a superior and more durable unit than a big journal 455 block. Stronger, and better oiling. Cost effective and an excellent combination. And you already have the makings.
 

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IIRC the "ET" concept was a post coupe, did they make any Custom S hardtops (no post)?

Pretty sure they did, but the GTO was'nt available as a post car as it was in earlier years.

I think you could even get a Custom S as a convert.

I like the idea of building a clone of the "ET" but only if it's a post. Bench seat, four speed and a rubber floor mat. Awsome.
 

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The stroker 400 is the hot ticket, and all 400 blocks will take the crank kit I assume? The kit is $1500, so not out of line. I want to build one for my 70. I say keep it as is, save the money from the endura front end and put it in the engine. Real cool car, and the GTO guys will ask you what it is at a car show, unless they are enthusiasts, then they will think it's just cool.. I got the 350 badges on my 70, but the 350 is back in it FML.. G8ter has the 326 emblems on his, let them think what they want, then blow their doors off.
 

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I think your thread title says it all......I would hate to see a another piece of Pontiac history turned into a clone. They have a stripe package for the ET's which is similar to the Judge.... if it was "Just another LeMans or Tempest" (and i say that tongue in cheek) i would say have at it but thats a special option package with 800 made (does not matter that it was because no one wanted it back then). would be the perfect sleeper and no one knows about them but enthusiasts. would make for great conversations at shows and cruises too. all pontiac blocks are the same dimensions 326-455 so put in what you like and save a piece of the heritage for others to see. Fact is that if you restore it with GTO suspension parts (what is available on the market) it is basically a mechanical clone of the GTO. Remember anything collectible has a provenance that goes with it, and yours is a interesting one, the minute you make it a judge that all goes away and I love my Goats in sheeps clothing...:D
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You guys are great!

Let me get her home, then I will decide what to do with her. At the moment I HAVE an endura, 69 grills and bezels, and I have the elusive hideaway bumper brackets and hideaway door covers, all original. I'd hate for that hunting to go to waste!
But, that said I have thought about making it a resto-mod custom-s. I will say, it's odd as it sits, it's got the 68 chrome bumper, not the 69 (very different) it's the one they also put on GTO's in 68 with the endura delete. It's already been upgraded suspension wise, and I need to check the rearend and see what's up there. All I want to do undercarriage wise is 4 wheel disks, new sway bars and a few after market suspension upgrades. (and make sure it's got a nice posi) It's already got all new springs, shocks and bushings.
I am waiting for the PHS docs on her, I know it was PS, PB and no A/C but I'd like to find out the original motor, color and options.

I do LOVE the endura bumper (and hideaways of course) and I love the GTO scoops, I don't know if I can let those go. I was indoctrinated with a 70 Judge when I was 17, it's hard to let those childhood dreams go. even in this unique situation.

I know as she sits I could sure make a hell of a wolf in sheep's clothing, or goat in sheep's clothing as the case may be, and it's tempting. She will be safe in my garage by midnight tomorrow, I will start considering more as I get to know her.
 

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the car will tell you what it wants, mine was destined to be Firethorn red until i saw the barrier blue on the inside of the trunk where they did not epoxy over it for preservation...:cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey one thing, she's been completely de-badged. IF ... IF I decide to keep her a Custom S, anyone know where I can get the Custom S badging? I have seen a few cars around but none of them have both badges in one piece. Anyone doing reproductions?



As mentioned, 68 bumper?



Badges? We don't got no stinkin' badges....
 

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I have actually been thinking about building a 455 HO or SD hybrid RA motor. Something along those lines, using aftermarket RA heads and intake. Still kicking it around. It's quite a luxury having a running 400 in the car. Actually a luxury not having to count on it as a DD, or having to have it run at all. Once I get her in the garage and start pulling the interior and the nose/front clip off I may just pull the 400 and tranny and sell them. Haven't decided yet. I like the thought of the torque numbers from the 455 and the durability of the 4 bolt mains.
Wellll.... consider these points:

400 blocks are stronger than 455's (or any "large journal" Pontiac) simply because they have more "meat" in the main webs. Max effort 455's tend to eventually crack the block through the main webs.

Back in "the old days" H-O racing presented the idea that a longer rod/stroke ratio was advantageous. Some still think so, some don't - there are arguments supporting both sides.

There are parts readily available now that weren't "back then", such as stroker kits for "small journal" engines. Some of these kits also include longer rods.

4-bolt mains are "nice" for maximum effort race engines that also run high rpm, but not really necessary for street motors, even pretty strong ones, that rarely if ever will even be withing spitting distance of 6000 rpm.

Here's the dyno sheet for the motor that's in my car now. It started life as a vanilla YS coded 400. It's the numbers matching engine for my car. It's got 2-bolt mains, iron heads (albeit 722's), a moderate solid roller cam, cast iron factory intake, 455 SD Qjet, headers, and a cast 4.25" -cast- stroker crank swinging "long" h-beam forged rods and forged pistons.

I also put some effort into making it look stock, despite the good roller rockers and stud girdles.

I think "it'll do". :cool


If you want to see a more or less up to date blow by blow photo record of what I've done to mine so far, then check out my photo site. Warning - there are "quite a few" pictures to slog through. I've made many of the upgrades to mine that you mentioned.

Bear
 

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I'm with Eric, the Mad max bumper may have to go.. Or refit it flush and do the lights better.. I would put the endura and hideaways on it, even the judge stripes, and just put the Custom emblems on it. I really don't like the chrome front bumper. The hideaway and Endura is sooo much better. And you aren't hurting the car by doing it, no hacking or front fender swaps? Include the original bumper if you ever sell it, which you won't..
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Marilyn is home safe in the garage!

Howdy all. Well after 21 hours on the road and 980 miles logged, Marilyn is home safe in her bed. Now that I have been afforded the opportunity to look her over I am excited, and confused. I am very much looking forward to the PHS history on this car. She seems to be quite unique already. Mayfair Maize from the factory, optioned out with PS, PB, tilt column, power antennae and remote drivers side mirror. No A/C which I will of course change since I live in the Midwest. I am very interested to see what motor/transmission option she came with from the factory. Great start for a resto though with all the options already in place.

I will update with pictures in the next few days. :cool
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wellll.... consider these points:

400 blocks are stronger than 455's (or any "large journal" Pontiac) simply because they have more "meat" in the main webs. Max effort 455's tend to eventually crack the block through the main webs.

Back in "the old days" H-O racing presented the idea that a longer rod/stroke ratio was advantageous. Some still think so, some don't - there are arguments supporting both sides.

There are parts readily available now that weren't "back then", such as stroker kits for "small journal" engines. Some of these kits also include longer rods.

4-bolt mains are "nice" for maximum effort race engines that also run high rpm, but not really necessary for street motors, even pretty strong ones, that rarely if ever will even be withing spitting distance of 6000 rpm.

Here's the dyno sheet for the motor that's in my car now. It started life as a vanilla YS coded 400. It's the numbers matching engine for my car. It's got 2-bolt mains, iron heads (albeit 722's), a moderate solid roller cam, cast iron factory intake, 455 SD Qjet, headers, and a cast 4.25" -cast- stroker crank swinging "long" h-beam forged rods and forged pistons.

I also put some effort into making it look stock, despite the good roller rockers and stud girdles.

I think "it'll do". :cool

If you want to see a more or less up to date blow by blow photo record of what I've done to mine so far, then check out my photo site. Warning - there are "quite a few" pictures to slog through. I've made many of the upgrades to mine that you mentioned.

Bear
That is quite a dyno sheet right there ... :willy:
Now that I am 95% sure I have a 1964 303hp 389, does that change your assessment? I am not at all familiar with the 389's always had 400's in my previous GTOs. If my current education is correct they are essentially the same engine minus bore and stroke and if indeed that is the case could I still build a capable stroker with this as my launching pad? It seems to have a nice manifold already and I may have hunted down some nice heads for it (currently 6X) so I know I can make a runner out of it no matter what. But curious about your take on the current state of affairs.
 

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That is quite a dyno sheet right there ... :willy:
Now that I am 95% sure I have a 1964 303hp 389, does that change your assessment? I am not at all familiar with the 389's always had 400's in my previous GTOs. If my current education is correct they are essentially the same engine minus bore and stroke and if indeed that is the case could I still build a capable stroker with this as my launching pad? It seems to have a nice manifold already and I may have hunted down some nice heads for it (currently 6X) so I know I can make a runner out of it no matter what. But curious about your take on the current state of affairs.
Bear is the expert, but I don't see why you couldn't bore and stroke yours out to a 461. As long as it's a small journal engine, I don't think there are any real differences in the blocks other than the bore and stroke.
 
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