Over seven seasons, the General Lee went airborne more than 150 times. Although it seemed fine on screen, the General rarely survived a jump. Warner Brothers totaled an average of two Dodge Charger per episode. By the time filming ended, an estimated 300 Chargers had starred as the General Lee. What happened to all those cars?
WB salvaged the most beat-up vehicles. Mechanics saved the doors, the rebel-flagged roof, and engine parts, which were cannibalized by future Generals. The car’s wrecked remains were then sent to a junkyard crusher, where it was crumpled beyond recognition. An estimated 75 to 220 Chargers went to the car yard in the sky this way.
Chargers that weren’t as badly damaged often became props, called “bucks.” Mechanics rebuilt and repainted the battle-scarred autos, which reappeared as town or chase cars. By the end of each season, these Chargers also retired to a car graveyard.
When Dukes’ Nielsen ratings sunk in 1986, CBS pulled the show. Warner Brothers abandoned 18 General Lees at the set, and the cars gathered dust for five years. In 1991, WB sold 17 of those cars to private owners.
General Lee Fun Facts
· In 2001, two collectors found a General Lee in a Georgia junkyard. The car ended up being the original, from the first episode. The car was restored and sold for $110,000.
· The Dukes’ car was originally going to be named “Traveller,” after General Lee’s horse, but the producers worried that no one would get the reference.
· You can still buy the “Dixie” horn from JC Whitney.
· The General Lee was a 1969 Charger, but some of the cars filmed were doctored 1968 models.
· The General’s trunk was filled with sand or concrete to keep it from tipping on its nose when airborne. Each jump was manned.
· The car received an average of 35,000 letters of fan mail per month.