The General Lee is the automobile driven by the Duke cousins Bo and Luke in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard. It is known for the chases and stunts, especially high jumps, in almost every episode, and for having the doors welded up, leaving the Dukes to climb in and out through the windows. The car appears in all but one episode of the series (the third broadcast, Mary Kaye's Baby). The car's name is a reference to the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and indeed the vehicle embodies the Southern United States, bearing as it does a Confederate flag on its roof and a horn which plays a bar from the song "Dixie".
The car was supposedly named this because of "General Robert E. Lee", General in Chief of the confederate army. This would also explain the Confederate flag painted on the top of the vehicle, though there has been quite a large amount of controversy over the subject. E.112
The idea for the General Lee was developed from the famous bootlegger Jerry Rushing's car, which was named for General Lee's favorite horse, Traveler. Traveler was also the name of the car in Moonrunners, the 1975 movie precursor to The Dukes of Hazzard.
Although the exact 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 seventeen 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 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 a DVD player, using slower settings will reveal that on many of the jumps the cars literally bent upon impact.) All cars used in large jumps were immediately retired due to structural damage.
From 1979 to 1985, Chargers of 1968 and 1969 vintage were sourced and converted to General Lee specifications. Despite popular belief, no 1970 models were used, according to all builders involved over the years. Also, a list containing a Vehicle Identification Number for each Charger used as a General Lee was given to Wayne Wooten of the Dodge Charger Registry; no 1970 models were listed. Obtaining cars was not an issue 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 (something that had already been done occasionally previously) and in the final season, according to various interviews and segments on the various episode DVD releases, radio-controlled miniatures were occasionally used to the chagrin of several cast members.
Episodes 1 to 5 were filmed in the Georgia towns of Covington and Conyers in November and December 1978. Georgia episode cars consisted of 6 Dodge Chargers. The first General Lees were built by Warner Brothers (WB) and shipped to Georgia where John Marendi (picture car coordinator) labeled the first 3 cars LEE 1, LEE 2, and LEE 3 in no particular order for film editing purposes. LEE 1 was a 2nd unit car with a full rollcage. It is a 383 V8-powered 1969 Charger equipped with air conditioning (A/C). It was originally code T3 Light Bronze Metallic with tan interior, 3 speaker dash, and chrome rocker trim. After the now-famous jump over Rosco P. Coltrane's police cruiser by stuntman Craig Baxley, it was stripped of its front seats and 1969-specific grill and taillight panel. LEE 1 was used once more as the "Richard Petty" tire test car in the fourth episode Repo Men and afterwards was retired to a junkyard in Georgia, but later bought and restored. It is currently for sale for 1 million dollars. LEE 2 was also a 2nd unit car with a full rollcage and tan interior. It was used for the opening scene in One Armed Bandits. In this scene, Bo and Luke were chasing Rosco's police cruiser with the General after Cooter stole it; during this chase, LEE 2 is shown making a jump (the second that Baxley performed).LEE 3 was the unit 1 close-up car and the first General Lee built by Warner Bros and is seen in the first publicity photos. It was a R/T SE (Special Edition) model. It was powered by a 440 Magnum V8 and also had A/C with power windows and a woodgrain dash. This car had a tan interior and a removable roll bar that allowed installation of a camera for in-car shots. Eventually the first 3 General Lees started to show visible damage, so the crew had to start making more. The first General Lee built in Georgia was a 1968 Charger converted to look like a 1969; the tail light panel, front grill, and front seats taken from LEE 1 were used. The paint used on these cars was Chrysler EV2, aka, Hemi Orange. Interiors not originally tan were sprayed with SEM brand "Saddle tan" vinyl dye. The first 3 Georgia Lees had a set of crossed flags (a Confederate flag and checkered flag) on the panel between the rear window and trunk lid. Although 4 sets were created, only 3 were used. They were discontinued due to the continuity of the General Lee graphics, making it one less thing to be used. The 3 surviving cars went back to California and had the crossed flags removed upon reconditioning. The wheels were 14X7 inch American Racing brand "Vectors" throughout the show and were mounted on P235/70R14 B.F. Goodrich Radial T/A tires with the blackwall side facing out.
 The Veluzat era
Andre and Renaud Veluzat built General Lees for WB from the 2nd season into the 4th season. Viewers can also see two "Georgia" cars used often up into the early second season. LEE 3 and a specially caged car never appearing (but built) in Georgia were used heavily in early California episodes. The Veluzats were somewhat inconsistent in how they built the cars, so this is when the most variations from specification are found. The paint was GM code 70, Flame Red,(still orange, just the name of the color) but there does appear to be some variance here: interiors were mostly dyed brown and occasionally SEM Saddle Tan. According to some sources, the Veluzats charged WB $250 a week per car for rental and a lump sum of $2000 to $3000 upon destruction of the vehicles; this included police cars as well. WB mechanics had to maintain the cars at company expense.
The money generated by building General Lees financed the Veluzat family project of restoring Gene Autry's Melody Ranch; it had burned in the 1960s. This ranch is where many classic Western flims were shot as well as the television series Gunsmoke. Today, it is a fully-functional movie ranch where shows like HBO's Deadwood are filmed.
They later installed a NOS unit.
 The Warner Brothers. era
By 1983, Warner Brothers turned total control of building General Lees to a man named Ken Fritz because the Valuzets were caught selling wrecked cars that had received cosmetic repairs and forged VINs. Fritz didn't have the job long before he too was fired and at this point Warner Brothers moved full production in-house. The General Lee was now the highlight of the series, and WB received enormous amounts of Lee-specific fan mail that nit-picked the inconsistencies of the cars. Because of General Lee's fame, WB had their staff mechanics build the cars to a specific appearance, even underneath. All graphics had to meet specifications, all side markers and rocker panel chrome trim were removed; and roll bars and push bars had to meet an exact specification. However, some changes were made before the specifications were laid-out: the push bar became wider, the interior became a light beige color, and the roll bars were covered in a black foam padding. During this period, the only true way for fans to distinguish the 1968 conversions from the 1969 originals is by the shape of the dashpad.
As the WB era rolled on, finding the cars became an issue: Piper Cubs were hired to search for 1968 and 1969 Chargers amongst the populace; the jumped cars were now no longer scrapped after one jump if deemed salvageable, and were repaired and used until they could no longer function; and, as last resort, miniature radio-controlled models were also brought in toward the end of the series to replace most of the big jump stunts, thereby saving more cars - something that proved unpopular with many episode directors (including Tom Wopat) who felt that the models looked too fake. By this time, there was also a rivalry for "TV's greatest car" with the Knight Rider series, leading to the models being used more and more for greater jumps to try and out-do that series. Taking full control also saved some money as now WB had the ability to buy cars, recondition them, and use them without paying daily rental fees.
 The General Lee from The Dukes Of Hazzard Motion Picture
At the beginning of the movie, the General was a faded orange with a hand-painted "01" on the doors, black steel wheels, standard front bumper, and no Confederate flag. Midway through the film, Cooter repairs the General after it's vandalized by Boss Hogg's hirelings. He repaints it a bright orange and adds the well-known trademarks (American Racing "Vector" 10-spoke "turbine" wheels, octagonal "01", black grille guard, Confederate flag on the roof, "Dixie" horn, and "General Lee" above the door window openings). In an era of Political Correctness, the Confederate flag on the roof is made an object of conflict in the movie on two occasions. In the first occasion, the Dukes are stuck in an Atlanta traffic jam. During this time passing drivers make remarks towards them that alternate between cheering the South and condemning them as practicing racism, leaving the Duke boys puzzled; the last to comment says, "Nice roof, redneck!..join the rest of us in the twenty-first century?!" and displays obscene hand gestures. Mystified, Bo and Luke slide out of the windows so they could sit on the windowsill to look at the roof and, to their horror, discover the flag. In the second incident, the Dukes wind up with coaldust on their faces, giving them the appearance of driving around in blackface; they stop at a traffic light and some African American youths notice this and the Confederate flag on the General. The youths come to the conclusion that the Dukes are making a racist statement and are about to give them a physical opinion of their roof graphic and facial appearance. Just as the youths were about to assault Bo and Luke, two black police officers show up and throw the Dukes in jail. The movie General not only flies and makes controlled landings, but also drifts with the aid of professional drifter Rhys Millen. During jump scenes, some stunt cars were jumped under their own power by stunt drivers; others had their engines and transmissions removed. The engineless Chargers were then launched without drivers by a gas-driven catapult similar in principle to those used on aircraft carriers. Approximately twenty-four 1968 to 1970 Chargers were used in the film.
Unlike the TV show era Lees, the movie cars used aftermarket graphic kits. The movie gave them new credibility and are no longer considered to be an inaccurate choice. Otherwise, except for the white letters on the Goodrich Radial T/A tires, the exterior of the movie's "close-up" General Lees varied little from the TV show cars. The paint was Big Bad Orange (an American Motors Corporation color) rather than Corvette Flame Red; the interior headliner was black instead of tan, an actual roll cage was used; a 3-spoke Grant wood-trimmed steering wheel replaced the standard wheel, an AM/FM stereo radio with Compact Disc player was installed in the dashboard; and the interiors were a custom color vinyl fabric made to look like the dye/paint used in the later eras of the TV show. One still can differentiate the '68 Chargers by looking at the dash pad, but now 1970 Chargers were thrown in the mix. Overall the cars resembled an average General Lee clone car from the late 1990s to early 2000s, but the overall flavor of the General Lee is still obvious.
2005 MOVIE CAR LIST
1. 001 - 1968 - 2nd Unit - Tilting Arm
2. 002 - 1968 - 1st Unit - Hero - Hemi
3. 003 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Remote Drive Vehicle
4. 004 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Buck
5. 005 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Stunt Driver
6. 006 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Sling car
7. 007 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Go mobile
8. 008 - 1970 - 2nd Unit - Buck
9. 009 - 1969 - 1st Unit - Hero Car
10. 010 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Stunt Driver
11. 011 - 1968 - 2nd Unit - Sling Car
12. 012 - 1969 - 1st Unit - Pre Cooter - Hero
13. 013 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Remote Drive Vehicle
14. 014 - 1968 - 1st Unit - Pre Cooter - Hero A/C
15. 015 - 1968 - 2nd Unit - Jump Car
16. 016 - 1968 - 1st Unit - Hero Car
17. 017 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Soft Jump Car
18. 018 - 1968 - 2nd Unit - Buck
19. 019 - 1968 - 1st Unit - Pre Cooter - Hero
20. 020 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Stunt Driver
21. 021 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Stunt Driver
22. 022 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Pre Cooter
23. 023 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Stunt Driver
24. 024 / #50 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Buck
25. 025 / #51 - 1970 - 2nd Unit - Jump Car
26. 026 / #115 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Parts Car
27. 027 / #126 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Spare
28. 028 / #127 - 1969 - 2nd Unit - Sling Car
Eleven of the cars used for the movie had been purchased from the Luedtke Auto Group. Many of the cars needed extensive restoration and most had been cut up to allow for inside camera views.
Two of the General Lees (a 1969 R/T SE and a 1970 made to appear as a 1969) were temporarily sold to Warner Brothers by Everett "J.R." Barton of Wichita, Kansas. The 1970 Charger was used to make the "freeway jump" during the police chase after Bo and Luke escaped from their Atlanta Police Department escorts; it had made the longest jump of any Lee's that appeared on screen and fairly survived and is the only car you see making that jump. In the "outtakes" you see one other car make a nose dive into the street and go into the guard rail. That car DID NOT make it in the movie. J.R.'s car makes a fairly perfect landing; but then it veers off to the left into the center devider wall. This particular General Lee is once again in running condition and moving under its own power; it still wears its battle scars and can be seen at auto shows in the Midwest. The 1969 model was 'said' to have been used in one of the field driving sceens by the transportation director, because they were needing a car that was allready distresed looking and it would be shot from the rear only, and could have been incorporated with the filming of the movie. The car was returned in its original condition after filming wrapped. With the exception of parts that were swapped from his '69 R/T to and from other General Lee's.
Engines in the TV show General Lees varied; 318, 383, and 440 CID V8s were used. However, the "close-up" Lees were 383-powered. The special purpose built "Ski Car" (the car that was used for stunts involving driving on the left side or right side wheels with the opposite side wheels in the air) had a 318, as it was lighter weight. Most of the 'workhorse' stunt cars had 318s and 440s. The stunt drivers tended to prefer 440s (a higher performance engine) for jumps, so 440-powered stunt Lees were often saved for the higher and longer jumps. Also, though early sound effects led many people to believe otherwise, only a handful of Chargers had manual transmissions; most had 727 TorqueFlite automatic transmissions. Also in "The Dukes of Hazzard" motion picture Cooter put a 426 Hemi inplace of the 383.
 Exit and entry
The General Lee, except in the beginning of the movie, does not have opening doors. In the TV series, it is explained that racing cars have their doors welded shut. In the movie, the car has been repaired after being trashed, but the doors could not be fixed fast enough. The driver and passenger must slide in the window (as in NASCAR). For a running entry, Bo and Luke also slide over the hood rather than walk around the front of the car. However, in the prequel The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, the left door was welded shut while the right one was not.
 Exhaust systems
Exhaust systems were basic: some had glasspack mufflers, but most had standard exhausts with the pipe cut just before the rear end. The exhaust sound that can be heard on most of the California-era episode General Lees is from a Thrush brand glasspack. The sounds came from the exhaust systems fitted to the "close-up" cars; the parts used were Blackjack brand headers, dual exhausts, and the aforementioned Thrush mufflers. However, the sounds were dubbed in after the scene was filmed.
Tires used on the General Lee were mainly supplied by Winston tires. The model was named the Winston Winner. Some BFG's were noted as being used from time to time, but WINSTON WINNERS were the main tires used on these vehicles. The reason? Winstons had the best warranty. When these General Lee's performed these massive stunts, it would take a toll on the tires. The warranty was so good on the Winston tires, if ANYTHING happened to them, they were replaced,,,free of charge.
For the Winston and BFG tires, the most common size was P235/70R14 and/or P235/70R15
 Salvaged LEE 1
LEE 1,, was salvaged out of a Georgia junkyard in August 2001 by Travis Bell, and Gary Schneider. The car has since been fully restored to its on screen appearance. It was officially unveiled to the public November 11, 2006 with John Schneider behind the wheel. It was sold on ebay for $10,000,000. It was rumored that "LEE 1" was the first General Lee to be built in 1978, but after extensive research, "LEE 3" has been proven to be the true first "General" to be transformed from its former life as just a plain ole' 1969 Dodge Charger.