The show that would make television history is called “The Dukes of Hazzard” and on November 11th, 1978, a stuntman on the Georgia setting of the program propels the show’s iconic automobile, the General Lee is a 1969 Dodge Charger, off a makeshift ramp of dirt and over a police vehicle.
TV history was made as the stunt designed the jump to be 82 feet long and 16 feet high; alas, the jump also resulted in the car being totaled as it landed. Despite the fact that over 300 variations of the General Lee made their debuts throughout the series, the show ran from 1979 to 1985 on CBS, the original car actually appeared in every episode of the show’s airing even though it was totaled: the opening credits played the jumping over the police car every week as the opening credits would reach their end.
Confederate flag on it. The car was owned by the actual Dukes of Hazzard cousins themselves which were Luke Duke (played by actor Tom Wopat) and Bo Duke (actor John Schneider) that needed the car to keep away from the Boss Hogg, the corrupt county commissioner, and to escape from dangerous scrapes. Interestingly, some of the most remember able scenes are those containing the General Lee such as seeing cousin Luke would go across the car’s hood by sliding sideways; since the doors to the car were welded shut and the windows were the only way in and out, they had to hop-in feet first through the windows as well as the Charger flying over ditches, police cruisers and drawbridges.
The one nagging issue was since almost all of the General Lee’s stunts resulted in the car being wrecked the prop master of the show had to buy every 1969 Dodge Charger that was available; roughly 85,000 were sold by the Chrysler Corporation. Each car had to be fitted properly for the action scene such as adding springs to the suspension and heavy-duty shock absorbers, adding a rolling cage inside the car and a protective push bar to the nose. Another decision by the prop master was to adjust the brakes so that the 180-degree “Bootleggers’ Turn” would be easier to do. This was used to help the cousins evade Boss Hogg’s pursuits. Also, to keep the car from flipping over in midair, the vehicles used in the jumps had to have their trunks filled with either lead ballast or full of concrete.
The car’s success was also recognized by their fans that sent roughly 35,000 letters to the General Lee per month while on the air. Also, fans showed their appreciation in other ways such as modifying their cars to look like the cousin’s escape vehicle as well as buying toy version and remote-controlled General Lee’s. Finally, in 2006, the original General Lee was restored to glory by Indianapolis DJ Travis Bell.