It was 1979, and I (Lyndon) was 14 years old living in Alberta. I had just acquired my learners drivers licence and enjoyed watching TV shows such as Chips, Starsky and Hutch, and the Six Million Dollar Man. I remember first seeing the commercials for The Dukes of Hazard. Of course I was mesmorized by the bright orange 1969 Dodge Charger with the confederate flag painted on the roof, the numbers 01 painted on the doors, and the horn that played Dixie. Oh the police chases, stunts, and especially the long jumps. The car had the doors welded shut leaving Bo and Luke Duke to climb in and out of the car through the windows, and of course what young boy wasn’t blown away by those Daisy Dukes. Of course the car was named “The General Lee”. The show soon became a big hit. I even heard it was so popular in the southern states they had to re-schedule Friday night high school football games because many people were staying home to watch the show.
The estimated number of chargers used while filming the series varies. It ranges from 255 to 325. Rumor has it around 17 original cars still exist in varying states of condition. Typically one General Lee was destroyed per show. When preparing to film a jump, 500 to 1000 pounds of ballast was placed in the trunk to prevent the car from nosing over. As the series went on, they also raised the nose of the car to prevent it from scraping the take off ramps and losing speed. It was rumored that the stunt drivers loved the flights, but hated the landings. 1968 and 1969 model year Chargers were used. Typically the Chargers were 383 V-8 powered. When they started filming the first season, 2 directors of the show were driving down the road and heard a car drive by with the Dixie horn. They instantly knew they had to have it for the show. They chased the car down and keep offering the guy more money till he got out of the car and ripped it out for them. The word is they bought it for $300.
Even years later the General Lee still resonates with many people. Hundreds of replica’s are out there. In 2014 the General Lee was featured in a commercial for Auto Trader along with Dukes of Hazzard stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat.
Which brings us to Michael. Even though he wasn’t around when the show first came out, he came to love the General Lee.