Essex Models and Miniatures archive
Category: Dodge

Ertl, General Lee

by Peter
Categories: Cars, Diecast models, Dodge, Ertl, TV & Film
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Today’s article is a car that must be famous world wide, The Dodge Charger known as General Lee from the TV series  ‘The Dukes of Hazard’.

generallee1

This is the smaller scale Ertl edition and sits well with 1:64 scale cars, issued in 1981.

generallee2

The real car

This is actually a replica, seen here in Essex UK a few years ago.

General Lee 3

The General Lee is the Dodge Charger driven by the Duke cousins Bo and Luke in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard. It is known for its signature horn, its chases and stunts—especially its long/high jumps—and for having its doors welded shut, leaving the Dukes to climb in and out through the windows. The car appears in every episode but one (“Mary Kaye’s Baby”). The car’s name is a reference to the Confederate General Robert E. Lee and it bears a Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (The army which Robert E, Lee commanded) on its roof and has a horn which plays a melody from the first twelve notes of the song “Dixie”.

Although the estimated number of General Lees used varies from different sources, according to Ben Jones (“Cooter” in the show), as well as builders involved with the show, 256 General Lees were used to film the series. Others claim about 321 were used in the series. Approximately 17 still exist in various states of repair. On average, more than one General Lee was used up per show. When filming a jump, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds (230 to 450 kg) of sand bags or concrete ballast was placed in the trunk to prevent the car from nosing over. Later in the series the mechanics would raise the front end of the car to keep it from scraping against the ramp causing it to lose speed, thereby providing a cushion for the driver upon landing. Stunt drivers report enjoying the flights but hating the landings. Despite the ballast, the landing attitude of the car was somewhat unpredictable, resulting in moderate to extremely violent forces, depending on how it landed. On many of the jumps the cars bent upon impact. All cars used in large jumps were immediately retired due to structural damage.

From 1968, 1969 to 1970 model-year Chargers were sourced and converted to General Lee specifications. Despite popular belief, according to all builders involved over the years. Obtaining cars was not a problem until later years. By that time, the car was the star of the show and Warner Brothers moved building of the cars in house to keep the cars consistent in appearance. Later in the show’s run, when it got too hard and/or expensive to continue procuring more Chargers, the producers started using more ‘jump footage’ from previous episodes. In the final season radio-controlled miniatures were occasionally used to the chagrin of several cast members.

Real car text from Wikipedia