In recent posts on muscle and classic cars in TV and movies we’ve covered classics such as the 1958 Chevy Impala from “American Graffiti”, the 1968 Dodge Charger from the movie “Blade” and the 68 Mustang GT-390 from the movie “Bullitt”. Today we feature what is arguably the most iconic muscle car in the history of film and television; The General Lee from”The Dukes of Hazzard”.
Based on a 1969 Dodge Charger, the General Lee is unmistakable with its bright orange paint job, the large “01” plastered on each door and a Confederate battle flag painted on the roof.
Driven mostly by outlaw cousins Bo and Luke Duke, the General Lee has become somewhat of a gearhead symbol of rebellion. Throughout “The Dukes of Hazzard” series, the General Lee can be seen racing away from the police around dirt roads of Hazzard County, as well as performing physics-defying jumps over lakes, road blocks, and anything else that stood in its way.
Obviously, the 1969 Dodge Charger wasn’t designed to survive ramping over long distances, and on average, more than one General Lee was destroyed in every episode, totaling 256 cars over the course of the original show. Only 17 of the original Chargers ended up surviving the series.
Specs and Modifications
The Dodge Chargers used in the original series featured a number of different engines. Depending on what the performance required, the General Lee was powered by either a 318, 383, or 440 cubic-inch V8. For close-up shots, the 383 cubic-inch V8 was used. Due to its lighter weight, the 318 V8 was used for particularly agile stunts, while the powerful 440 V8 was used for long-distance jumps (requiring hundreds of pounds of sandbags in the trunk to balance out the weight of the engine).
Aside from its appearance, the General Lee featured a few other iconic modifications. The standard horn was replaced with a speaker that played the first twelve notes of 19th-century song “Dixie,” which was the unofficial anthem of the Confederate Army. Also, the General Lee’s doors were welded shut to mimic race cars of the time, which required drivers and passengers to hop in and out through the open windows.
Inspiration for the General Lee on “The Dukes of Hazzard”
The General Lee (and other aspects of “The Dukes of Hazzard”) is loosely based on famous American bootlegger Jerry Rushing, who was the inspiration for Bo Duke. Rushing used a 1958 Chrysler 300D to outrun the law in his time. Similar to the General Lee, which is named after the Civil War general Robert E. Lee, Rushing’s 1958 Chrysler was nicknamed “Traveler,” a reference to Robert. E. Lee’s favorite horse.
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