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Essex Models and Miniatures archive
Even after all the time I’ve been involved with diecast collecting, every now again something comes up I’ve not seen before.
These tiny machines, made by Ertl are about 1:144 scale or in the model railway world N gauge.
A rare find and little can be found on these models, and after many searches will leave this to our readers to inform me of production dates and ranges.
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’.
This is the smaller scale Ertl edition and sits well with 1:64 scale cars, issued in 1981.
The real car
This is actually a replica, seen here in Essex UK a few years ago.
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
This is another Ertl vehicle I have from the recently bought job lot of Ertl Thomas the tank engine locomotives, coaches, wagons and vehicles.
Listed as a Dyson lowloader, again this truck has no face as most of the Ertl ‘Thomas’ series does.
This has great detailing and has been semi weathered by Ertl, the trailer is separate from the cab unit.
I would put the scale at around 1:60 although this is just assumed, this is not a common one to find but can still be got on Ebay for a reasonable cost.
I have since bought another in mint condition and in the original packaging
I have not been able to trace what the truck is based on but as an American company it’s likely to be an International or GMC based design but again I am only guessing
Related posts; Sodor Taxi
Ertl are probably best known for their diecast farm machinery and large diecast cars but in the 1980′s they produced what was to become a very large range of diecast trains related to the ‘Thomas the tank engine’ series of books and the later TV series.
Although not on my list of things I collect, recently I bought a massive job lot of Ertl Thomas the tank engine locomotives, coaches, wagons and vehicles and searching through them I came across this little Austin taxi produced in 2001.
Most of the Ertl ‘Thomas’ range have faces on the front either moulded plastic or earlier one’s had stickers, this taxi, listed as ‘The Sodor Taxi’ has neither and is actually a nice little model with plenty of detail.
Related posts; Dyson Lowloader
A similar model was made by Lledo, albeit a larger scale and marked as a 1933 Austin taxi.
The real taxi
The Ertl taxi is based on a 1936 Austin.
In 1936 Austin made a number of High Lot taxis, which were found to be a little unstable, because of their height. So 6 inches was lopped of the height and so produced the low loader.
The taxi cab was designed by William Overton of Mann & Overton Limited in collaboration with Austin. Austin had redesigned the back axle relocating the propeller shaft and together with height saved by the new dropped cross-braced frame something like 6 inches was able to be removed from the car’s overall height.
Again the standard body was made by Strachan of Acton. For the same price Mann & Overton would supply another by Vincent’s of Reading (famous for building the royal horse boxes) or for £5 more a better finished body by Jones Bros of Bayswater. Other suppliers included Goodland Cooper and Elkington of Chiswick.
Mann & Overton’s Austins dominated the market between 1930 and 1938 selling 5,850 cabs representing 75% of the market.