The famous car that dominated much of the action in The Dukes of Hazzard is a 1969 Dodger Charger known by fans worldwide as the “General Lee.”
Just about everyone is familiar with the flying orange car with the confederate flag on top and “01” on the welded-shut doors that kept the Duke boys — Bo and Luke, as well as Coy and Vance — one step ahead of the law during the series runs from 1979 through 1985.
And, of course, the General Lee Matchbox car was the baddest hunk of diecast you could find.
But here are a few facts about the General Lee you may not have known …
- At least 300 different cars were used as the General Lee during the show’s run … and virtually all were destroyed in stunts.
- The jump shown in the opening credits set a record at 16 feet high and 82 feet in length.
- The Charger used in that opener was the only car seen in every episode of The Dukes of Hazzard.
- Jerry Rushing was a bootlegger with a car he named “Traveller” after General Robert E. Lee’s horse — the show riffed off this idea to come up with the General Lee.
- Producers heard a car horn pass by playing the first few notes of “Dixie” and realized it would be perfect for the General Lee. They chased down the driver and bought the horn on the spot.
- The Dodger Charger was unstable for the types of stunts the show called for since the engine was so heavy, giving it a tendency to pitch forward. The crew compensated for this by weighting the trunk with cement and other material.
- Toward the end of the run, there weren’t enough Chargers to go around, so producers had to make do with a fleet of AMC Ambassadors and some camera trickery.
- Andre and Renaud Veluzat built General Lees for three seasons and used the money they made to restore Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch, which burned in the 1960s. The ranch would later go on to serve as the filming location for Deadwood and other movies and shows.
- Controversy over the car’s ties to the confederacy have led at least a few owners of original General Lees to paint over the confederate flag on the car rooftops.
- Late in the TV series, Warner Brothers increased the number and difficulty of stunts involving the General Lee in order to compete with Knight Rider‘s K.I.T.T. for the unofficial title of “TV’s coolest car.” This only served to exacerbate the Charger shortage.
- At least 23 original General Lees are known to still exists, in varying degrees of repair (or disrepair).
- The first five episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard were filmed in actual Georgia towns, eating through six General Lees in the process. Among them were the first three, which are known in fandom and lore as LEE1, LEE2, and LEE3.
- At the beginning of The Dukes of Hazzard movie (also the series pilot), the General Lee’s doors actually open. They are welded shut as part of a quick repair job after an accident, though, and they stay that way forevermore.
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End Date: Thursday 02/25/2021 21:54:46 EST
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