Q: Greg I was reading one of your articles on the internet posted in January 2016. The article was about someone that owned a Ram Air IV GTO Judge that you spoke of and then valued the car at just over $200,000.
I own a 1970 Ram Air IV GTO that came from Boyertown Pontiac in Pennsylvania in May 1970. I have owned the Ram Air IV GTO since October 1997 and gave the car a complete frame off restoration.
The GTO originally came in Pepper Green with Sandalwood Interior (it’s now a deep blue). It has the Ram Air IV engine, 4-speed close ratio transmission, floor console, hood mounted tachometer, factory rally gauges, 3.90 limited slip differential, Décor Group which is the wheel open moldings, valance moldings and drip moldings, 8-track tape player, AM\FM radio, power disc brakes and manual steering.
I know of the previous three owners but not the first original owner. I believe he went by the nickname of “Dutch.” Dutch traded the GTO in on a new Toyota in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1976 when his family grew and the oil embargo made it difficult to drive this car as a daily driver due the high cost of gasoline.
My question is do you have any connections that could help me track down the first owner?
He may hold some of the key paperwork to my GTO such as the Bill of Sale and Build sheet.
The car has been authenticated by Pontiac Historical Society and I have spoken to other enthusiasts in the Pennsylvania area that knew of my Ram Air IV GTO when Dutch raced it on the street. One person told me the GTO pretty much owned the street and beat many of the Stage 1 Buicks and LS6 Chevelles and other prized muscle cars from that era.
The second, third and fourth owners have all been very kind giving me great historical information on the car and its history. I even spoke to the son of the Pottstown Toyota dealership owner where the GTO was traded in back in 1976 toward a new Toyota. The son, who is now the owner, remembered the car and begged his father to keep it but being a factory drag GTO his father did not allow it. He recalled receiving the title that was then transferred over to the dealership.
The second owner is Dean Muhlenberg. He purchased the GTO off the used car lot in 1976 for $1,400 and kept the car until 1978. I spoke to his father and he recalled the GTO was on the used car lot for almost two weeks sitting outside unprotected.
Dean sold the car to Phil Lavelle who owns a machine shop and kept the GTO until 1996.
Phil and I have talked many times about his 18 years of owning the GTO. Phil has a repair shop in Pennsylvania and is on Facebook.
Phil sold the GTO to Mark Ludvigson in 1997, who lives in Delaware, and I purchased the GTO from Mark on Oct. 31, 1997. I drove the GTO back to Miami carefully and stopped for gas 12 times. With 3.90 gears I believe I got around 12 mpg.
So there is my story. I have been looking for the first owner for years trying to track down any valuable paperwork. I have posted information on the GTO club of Pennsylvania a few years back with no luck. I wish I could run the vehicle identification number (VIN) through the DMV to find out who the first owner was.
- Roger Wydler, Miami
A: Roger first thanks for your well written and researched letter. The best I can do for you is use your letter in my column, which appears nationally on the More Content Now and Gatehouse Media newspaper and internet sites. Perhaps someone will read this column and come up with the name of that first owner you seek. I wish you good luck and if any readers know who this first owner is, they can contact me as I do have the contact number for Roger.
As for your Ram Air IV GTO, it truly is a high dollar classic that is currently valued by NADA Classic Cars at a high retail of $106,650 thanks to the Ram Air IV engine (plus 35 percent) and the 4-speed manual transmission (plus 15 percent). Most important, however, is the fact that only 1,517 Ram Air IV models were ever built during the 1969/1970 years making your car an extremely rare and excellent example of GTO muscle.
Finally, that Judge you read about back in 2016? It’s still listed on NADA at a high retail of $199,795.
Thanks again for your question and I wish I had a magic wand that would allow uncovering the name of the original owner. The best I can do is ask my readers for info and hope that one of them may deliver the “magic wand” with their memory recall of Dutch, the very first owner.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.