History of the General Lee Car
– By Pioneer Auto Museum
Check out a piece of Hollywood history, right here at the Pioneer Auto Show!
As one of the most iconic cars from television’s yesteryears, the 1969 Dodge Charger dubbed “General Lee”, or simply “The General”, stole the hearts of The Dukes of Hazzard fans in the 70’s and 80’s. And, lucky for its admirers, the car made an appearance in every episode of the show, except for one. The buzz surrounding the trademark automobile even led to it receiving an astonishing 35,000 fan letters a month during the Duke’s heyday.
Even those that haven’t seen The Dukes of Hazzard can recognize the General Lee, as it has become an icon of pop culture. With the easy-to-see orange body and horn that plays the song “Dixie”, it isn’t hard to spot in a crowd. Another identifiable trait of The General is that its doors were welded shut, forcing passengers to crawl in and out through the windows. But probably the most memorable part of the General Lee is its fantastic leaps through the air during the show’s action-packed moments.
Scenes featuring the car’s signature jumps didn’t convey to viewers at home the damage sustained by the Chargers during filming. You heard right - Chargers, as in more than one. In fact, there are estimates that between 250 and 350 Dodge models were used during the show’s run. Each episode used at least two because the popular airborne shots would cause many of the cars to bend upon impact, with them being immediately retired afterwards. Astonishingly, each jump was manned by professional stunt drivers, with one achieving a jaw-dropping record jump of 16 feet high and 82 feet long. Cement was placed in the trunks of the car to stop the car from nose-diving during those impressive leaps.
Eventually, using up so many of the vehicle got to be too expensive, and some later seasons of the show include clips of jumps from previous episodes, or use miniature cars to portray the pivotal event.
The General Lee housed at the Pioneer Auto Show in Murdo is one of only 17 of the original Generals left. This particular General Lee came from Cinema Vehicles in Hollywood, California. Since it was only used for photo shoots and wasn’t involved in scenes involving high-speed chases, the car remains in great condition.
Make sure to stop by and witness for yourself the world-famous General Lee during your next visit!