There are only a few cars in the cinematic world more immediately recognisable to every generation as The Dukes of Hazzard, 1969 R/T Charger; and only one thing comes to mind at the sound of a Dixie horn – the affectionally named car, General Lee.
The General Lee is used by the Duke Brothers, Bo and Luke, to run moonshine for Uncle Jesse across Hazzard County, with Boss Hogg and idiotic Sheriff Rosco .P. Coltraine often not far behind. While there have been various versions and configurations throughout the years, the orange paintwork bearing ’01’ and a gigantic Confederate flag have always been consistent. In fact, the only time the General Lee has been without its trademark livery is at the beginning of the 2005 motion picture, The Dukes of Hazzard, when Boss Hogg had the car vandalised and before Cooter (the Dukes’ friend) was able to give the car a do-over.
Probably best known for the numerous stunts the General Lee pulled off throughout the television series, it should come as no surprise that the franchise has seen the demise of more than a few Chargers.
Throughout seven seasons of the show, around 300 Chargers were used with an average of two an episode. The General Lee went airborne over 150 times, and the damage to many of the Chargers used for jumps was so severe that often they were retired immediately after being used once.
Like most cars used in action flicks, the Chargers that were used for large jumps, and stunts were modified in various ways to deal with the strain. Vehicles that were manned were fitted with roll cages and most were fitted with strategically placed ballasts to stop the car from nose diving.
At a rate of two an episode it’s no wonder that 1968 and 1969 Chargers became such a rarity that many 1970 Chargers were modified to resemble the original 1969 R/T Charger for the 2005 motion picture.
The Chargers used various engines, with the 440 Magnum engine a favourite amongst crew members. Smaller capacity engines were also used in some of the stunt cars. One Charger was specifically modified for professional driver Rhys Millen (USd1, Pikes Peak and Rallycross) who performed many of the stunts for 2005 The Dukes of Hazzard film. With a significantly braced chassis and hydraulic handbrake, the General was seen sideways as often as it was airborne.
Despite the huge death toll of Chargers, the Hero Charger from the 2005 motion picture is making a shining appearance at Movie Car Mania presented by Spares Box at Meguiar’s MotorEx this weekend at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Sans Moonshine.