An Iconic Car Discussed

While that headline might be boring, the topic of conversation certainly isn’t. It’s time to talk about the “General Lee” from the Dukes of Hazzard television show which was a huge hit for many years. This iconic car not only wore the polarizing symbol of the Confederate Flag, but it was known to be the getaway car for the Duke boys who seemed to always be in trouble with the law. Even though that’s common knowledge, let’s take a look at a few items you might not have known about the car that was so recognizable.

Load it Up – The most famous jump this car ever made was the one shown in the opening credits, but there had to be several hundred pounds of cement put in the trunk to accomplish the jump because the car was extremely front heavy. The Charger has always been front heavy, but making a jump like this required more of a balanced approach.

Distance – That single opening credit jump in the car covered a full 82 feet and launched the car 16 feet into the air, making for one of the most recognizable opening scenes for any show in history.

Lots of Cars – The show itself ran for 147 episodes over 7 seasons which meant of ton of high speed chases and car jumps. The result of this longevity is the destruction of an entire fleet of over 300 1969 Dodge Charger models during filming.

Basis – The basis for this show was Moonrunners which was a 1975 show that never made the cut based on the moonshining exploits of two brothers, which was supposedly based on a true story. Many people thought the show was based on Dirty Mary Crazy Larry which was another show featuring a 1969 Charger, but that was inaccurate.

Accidents Happen – While the actors weren’t professional drivers, they did have to drive the General Lee at some point during the shows. One time the car was wrecked when one of the actors lost control of the car and because this accident was caught on film it was able to make the final cut of the show.

Short Supply – There were only so many 1969 Dodge Chargers to use for filming and in the final years the producers realized they had created a shortage of these cars. In order to continue the filming they switched out AMC Ambassador models and used editing and camera angles to hide the switch (all before the internet and CGI had been created).

Solicitation – In order to try and keep a flow of the Chargers for the show the producers seemed a bit desperate, but put notes on windshields of 1969 Chargers they found in parking lots to solicit owners to sell the cars to them. Considering the desperate need to have these cars for the show, these cars were probably bought at a significant profit from the owners.

Shrinking it Down – The supply of both the Charger and Ambassador was ridiculously critical to the show and when there weren’t any coming in the producers eventually turned to shooting the jumps using miniatures of the cars with a special effects company to create the scene and make it look real.

Survival – When the production of the show was finally over there were 17 General Lee models left standing. Of course all of these were in various stages of disrepair, none of which were in pristine condition.

Defacing the Icon – Bubba Watson owns Lee 1 which was one of the original cars for the show, and when the controversy over the Confederate Flag was a buzz on the internet he claimed he was going to paint over the flag and put the American Flag in its place. The feedback he received from nearly everyone who chose to weigh in on the subject was entirely negative and he changed his mind.

11.09.16 - Dukes of Hazzard General Lee

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