Published on April 7th, 2011 | by Gearhead Diva0
The General Lee Takes “The Law” into its Own Hands
The simple “good vs. evil” cowboy storyline of the pop culture classic TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard” is pretty straightforward. Southern cowboys, and cousins, Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) fight an ongoing battle with the authorities of Hazzard County (Boss Hogg and Sheriff Roscoe Coltrane), assisted only by their car “General Lee” (a souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger), cousin Daisy Duke and Uncle Jesse. Bo and Luke are good guys at heart but have trouble behaving themselves while on indefinite probation, complicating but not halting their efforts. “The law” dream up ways of eliminating the Dukes, even their wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle), but their schemes always backfire. Dukes soaked up seven seasons of material from the timeless tale of a deep south family of ex-moonshine-makers and their endless feud with a greedy impresario and his goofy, sidekick sheriff.
Before you begin building your replica General Lee, you should understand that there is no such thing as an exact replica because different configurations were used for the various needs of the TV show. While watching the series you will find cars with different style push bumpers, lettering sizes, interior colors, etc.
Body Style of the General Lee
The body of the General Lee is a 1969 Dodge Charger, but ’68 Chargers were also used and converted into the body style of the ’69 model. The was done by taking the front grille assembly of a ’68 and replacing it with a ’69 grille assembly. In addition, the tail lights had to be changed and body filler was applied to the side marker lights. From 1978-1982 only the sail panel and tail light panel emblems were removed. After 1982, all emblems from the vehicle were removed.
Correct Paint Color for the General Lee
The orange paint used on the General Lee is the least consistent feature off the car. Corvette Flame Red, Hemi Orange and Big and Bad Orange are all correct colors – the latter is reported to be the color used on the 2005 movie cars. A third color you will find on replicas is Vitamin C Orange, which appears very light, making it look the least authentic. The group General Lee Replica photo to the right shows the various colors on a collection of General Lee replicas from the 25th Anniversary Jump Show. The lightest is the Vitamin C Orange, the darkest is Flame Red, and in between lies Hemi Orange.
Finally, paint the tail light area black, rather than leaving it orange.
Push Bar on the General Lee
A narrow style push bar was used on the series, until they adopted a wider style in 1982. The narrow style bar was welded to the bumper and would cause damage to the grill whenever it was bumped. Most replicas use the wider style, as it attaches to the frame.
Wheels Used on the General Lee
The General Lee features American Racing “Vector” rims that had 10 spokes and were all aluminum. The Vectors are no longer in production by American Racing, but you can still purchase used ones and replicas online. Buick has a rim from 1985 that looks like the Vectors, but the bolt pattern is different than what is needed for a Dodge Charger, so you’d have to re-drill the holes or use an adapter. Be wary of rims advertised as “General Lee rims” online with 20 spokes, as the correct number is only 10.
The standard for a first unit General Lee was 14-inch Vectors (14×7) and occasionally 15×7 on the back and 14×7 on the front. Many replica cars use 15×8.5 Vectors, which give the wheels a wider look.
Decals & Markings on the General Lee
The markings found on the General Lee include the “01″ on the side doors, the Confederate Flag on the roof top and the “General Lee” lettering above the doors. The majority of the cars had their flag and numbers painted on, but there are now vinyl decal kits available for purchase online.
Keith Winfree, owner of one of the nineteen remaining General Lees from the TV series, provided these measurements for the markings located on his authentic General Lee. All measurements are overall and include the white outline unless otherwise noted.
“01″ Door Numbers
- The white outlines around the numbers are 1/2″ wide.
- The height of the numbers is 19″.
- The width of the “0″ is 13-1/2″.
- The center of the “0″ is 11″ high by 5-1/2″ wide.
- The width of the “1″ at the base is 11-1/2″.
- The bottom edge of the numbers is 2″ above the bottom edge of the door.
- The front edge of the “0″ is 13-15/16″ from the front edge of the door (driver’s door).
- The rear edge of the “1″ (center of the number, not the base) is 12-5/8″ from the rear edge of the door (driver’s door).
- Length of the flag is 53-1/2″.
- Width of the flag is 39-3/16″.
- The flag is centered on the roof from left to right.
- From the center of the front edge of the flag to the windshield chrome is 4-1/2″.
- From the center of the rear edge of the flag to the rear window chrome is 4-1/4″.
Interior Details of the General Lee
While the interior on the first few episodes of the show is black, the “official” interior color is the Dodge factory color Saddle Tan. In later episodes, the interior was switched to a much lighter tan. Many of the TV shows’ cars did not have a complete interior makeover to get the right color. Sometimes the interiors were simply spray-painted tan to save time and money, depending on how close up the shot was going to be.
The other recognizable detail of the interior is the roll bar behind the front seats. The roll bar was strictly cosmetic, to help give the General the “stock car” image. It provided no security, as it was only made out of exhaust tubing with foam padding.
Accessories of the General Lee
Dixie Horn. The Dixie horn is a 5-trumpet electrical music horn that plays the first 12 notes of the song ‘Dixie’. JC Whitney is the most popular retailer that sells the Dixie Horn, which is manufactured by Wolo Manufacturing Corp. The exact Wolo model number is #430.
CB Radio. In the TV series the CB radio most recognized in the General Lee is the Cobra 78x. The 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie features a Cobra 29 WX NW ST radio.
Antenna. The first antenna featured on the General Lee (until 1982) was the teardrop style antenna base from Radio Shack. The 21-908a trunk mount antenna is no longer in production. The second style antenna is the Avanti Racer 27, which was featured later in the series, and on the Reunion General Lee.
The 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie uses the Cobra HG-A1500 CB antenna, which is 37″ long, and mounts magnetically to the trunk lid.
Welded Doors. The doors for the General Lee in the story of the Dukes of Hazzard were welded shut, but this was not actually done to the cars in the TV show.
License Plate. The General Lee featured Georgia license plate CNH-320.
2005 Movie Variations
The General Lee used in the 2005 movie has features that weren’t found in the TV series. Here are a few of the differences:
Steering Wheel. The original series featured the factory steering wheel, but the movie General Lee’s are sporting a Grant F/X wheel (part #737 with install kit #4313).
CD Player. Rather than the simple, factory radio player, the General Lee has been updated with a Verge VMP508 CD Player with MP3 support.
Shifter + Shift Light/Tachometer. A B&M StarShifter and a Autometer 3904 shift light/tachometer were also added.
Although it was a huge hit when it originally aired, the General Lee’s legacy and influence continue to be a part of our pop culture. After all, this is a car that inspired millions of kids’ dreams. Getting into a car “Dukes of Hazzard style” is still a recognized term for entering a car through the windows and “Daisy Dukes” still describe very short jeans. After all, how many other cars have had Johnny Cash sing a song about them?