We are counting down the Top 50 hot rods and street cars of all time that have made an appearance in a television series, or a memorable television episode. Starting from #50, and counting down to our #1 pick, follow along with our memories, and see where your favorite show lands.
2. The Dukes Of Hazzard: 1969 Dodge Charger – The General Lee
The Balladeer, Waylon Jennings: Just the good ole’ boys / Never meanin’ no harm / Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born / Straightenin’ the curves / Flattenin’ the hills / Someday the mountain might get ’em, but the law never will / Makin’ their way the only way they know how / That’s just a little bit more than the law will allow / Just the good ole’ boys / Wouldn’t change if they could / Fightin’ the system like a true-modern day Robin Hood.
Bo and Luke: Yee-haw!
It makes no matter if you were of watching age when the original “Dukes of Hazzard” began airing on television in 1979, the series, characters, the Daisy Duke shorts, and especially the General Lee are famous around the world. In fact, the car received more than half of the show’s fan mail!
Set in a rural, Southern region of a fictional place known as Hazzard County, the Duke family includes Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle), Bo (John Schneider), Luke (Tom Wopat), and Daisy (Catherine Bach). Rounding out the cast were Cooter (Ben Jones), Roscoe P. Coltrane (James Best), Boss Hogg (Sorrell Brooks), and Enos (Sonny Shroyer). Many guest stars joined in the weekly fun and car chases with the Duke’s striving to keep the town clean, and Boss Hogg on a mission to implicate them of and all wrongdoing.
Intended only as a mid-season replacement for the failed series “Captain America,” the Dukes of Hazzard was well-received by audiences and lasted for seven seasons through 1985. Perhaps it was a hit with parents because at its core were solid family values and morals versus the violence and crime of other shows. In contrast, the Dukes were polite, loved their family, helped friends, stood for justice, and had a penchant for outrunning or chasing down the bad guys in their marvelous Mopar – a (possible) GM Hugger Orange-hued 1969 Dodge Charger.
In 1969, Chrysler manufactured approximately 85,000 Chargers, and there were plenty to be snapped up by producers. Various reports and interviews with Schneider and Wopat have said that between 256 and 351 General Lee’s were created – all modified 1968 or 1969 SE and R/T models — although most were destroyed during the filming of the series. Jones has stated many times that a total of 309 were outfitted with either 318, 383, or 440ci throughout production.
Alas, due to the high number of vehicles used, it is difficult to nail down the exact specs of each one due to the variances other than the doors on each car were welded closed, and had the number 01 , and Confederate flag painted on the exterior.
To the cars that participated in action scenes and jumps, a rollcage, heavy-duty shock absorbers, and a protective push bar on the front bumper were added. The famous bootlegger turn was accomplished by adjusting the brakes to make the 180-degree stunt smoother on the follow-through. Buried in the trunk of jump cars was a load of cement and lead ballasts to prevent mid-air rollovers.
It is believed only 17 of those 309 exist today. Schneider himself has restored more than 20 Chargers (not related to the show) in the same likeness of the General. The notoriety of the jumping Charger is alive and well with fans of the show and car enthusiasts — even after all of the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag painted on the roof and the familiar Dixie melody that accompanied each flight some 25 years after the fact.
So much has been written about the famous 01 Charger, it would be impossible to detail everything, but did you know that it performed a record stunt jump? It’s true. According to History.com:
“On this day in 1978, a stuntman on the Georgia set of “The Dukes of Hazzard” launches the show’s iconic automobile, a 1969 Dodge Charger named the General Lee, off a makeshift dirt ramp and over a police car. That jump, 16 feet high and 82 feet long (its landing totaled the car), made TV history. Although more than 300 different General Lees appeared in the series, which ran on CBS from 1979 until 1985, this first one was the only one to play a part in every episode: That jump over the squad car ran every week at the end of the show’s opening credits.”
Were the Dukes and the General Lee part of your childhood? Let us know a favorite memory in the comments below!