The 1969 model did not have the vent windows, had a slight grille and taillight revision, moved the ignition key from the dashboard to the steering column, and the gauge faces changed from steel blue to black. In addition, the rear quarter-panel mounted side marker lamps changed from a red lens shaped like the Pontiac "V" crest to one shaped like the broad GTO badge.
The previous economy engine and standard 350 hp 400 in³ V8 remained, while the 360 hp engine was in its last year. The 400 in³ Ram Air III was rated at 366 hp (273 kW) @ 5,100 rpm, while the top option was the 370 hp (276 kW) Ram Air IV, which featured special header-like high-flow exhaust manifolds, high-flow cylinder heads, a specific high-rise aluminum intake manifold, larger Rochester QuadraJet four-barrel carburetor, high-lift/long-duration camshaft, plus various internal components capable of withstanding higher engine speeds and power output. Unlike the big-block Chevy and Hemi motors, the Ram Air IV utilized hydraulic lifters. As a result, it did not overheat in traffic, nor did it foul spark plugs, which set it apart from the large-displacement performance engines seen in other muscle cars.
By this time, the gross power ratings of both Ram Air engines were highly suspect, bearing less relationship to developed horsepower and more to an internal GM policy limiting all cars except the Corvette to no more than one advertised horsepower per ten pounds of curb weight. The higher-revving Ram Air IV's advertised power peak was actually listed at 5,000 rpm—100 rpm lower than the less-powerful Ram Air III.
The Ram Air V was introduced in 1969. It was a special 400 block with newly designed high compression tunnel port heads and a special high rise intake manifold. A prototype GTO so equipped could go 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds, and the quarter-mile time was 11.5 seconds at 123 mph (198 km/h). Ram Air Vs were not installed in GTOs at the factory; it was available only as an aftermarket product.
The significant event of 1969 was the launch of a new model called 'The Judge'. The Judge name came from a comedy routine, "Here Comes the Judge", used repeatedly on the "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In TV" show. Advertisements used slogans like "All rise for The Judge" and "The Judge can be bought." As originally conceived, the Judge was to be a low-cost GTO, stripped of some gimmicks to make it competitive with the Plymouth Road Runner. During its development, however, it was decided to make it the ultimate in street performance and image. The resulting package ended up being US$337.02 more expensive than a standard GTO, and included the Ram Air III engine, styled wheels, Hurst shifter (with a unique T-shaped handle), wider tires, various decals, and a rear spoiler. Pontiac claimed that the spoiler had some functional effect at higher speeds, producing a small but measurable down force, but it was of little value at legal speeds except for style. The Judge was initially offered only in "Carousel Red," but late in the model year a variety of other colors became available.
The GTO was surpassed in sales both by the Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 and the Road Runner, but 72,287 were sold during the 1969 model year, with 6,833 of them being The Judge.