The Dukes of Hazzard was one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, featuring the Duke boys who pushed the limits of what their Dodge Charger could do. In the show, the car could do stunts and jumps on almost every episode.
Dodge Chargers were known for their toughness and speed, so they usually attract drivers who are looking for a sleek muscle car. It’s something that has a big engine and can take on anything but still looks cool at the same time. This is probably why the car model was chosen to be cast as General Lee – the Duke boys’ car – for their adventures.
Here are some interesting facts you may not know about The Dukes of Hazzard and their Dodge Charger:
1. The show made TV history with a car jump.
On November 11, 1978, a stuntman on The Dukes of Hazzard set launched a Dodge Charger off a makeshift dirt ramp and over a police car. That jump was about 16 feet high and 82 feet long, totaling the car on its landing. But it made TV history as the first successful car jump shown on TV. Though a lot of different Dodge Chargers appeared in the series, this was the first one to play a part in every episode. That record-breaking jump over the squad car was shown every week at the end of the opening credits, making it the only Dodge Charger in the show to be featured in more than one episode.
2. About 300 Dodge Chargers were used throughout the show.
Since practically every one of General Lee’s stunts ended up wrecking the car, the prop masters of the show bought every 1969 Dodge Charger they could find. It’s estimated that the show went through 250 to 325 cars in its 147 episodes that ran from 1979 to 1985. Most of the cars used in the show were completely destroyed doing stunts, but around 17 of them are said to still be around, but not necessarily running.
Though we may not know exactly how many cars were totaled, indeed, more than one was used for each episode, on average. That’s a lot of wrecked Dodge Chargers!
3. Each car was outfitted for action.
After buying lots of Dodge Chargers, the prop masters of the show outfitted each one to look the same. General Lee was a neon orange Charger with “01” painted on the doors and with a Confederate flag on the roof. The prop masters added a roll cage and some heavy-duty shock absorbers and springs to the suspension. They also tampered with the breaks to make doing the 180-degree bootleggers’ turn easier, which often helped the Duke boys evade Boss Hogg.
4. The cars used for jump stunts are packed with cement or sand.
The cars used for jumps got their trunks full of concrete or lead ballast to prevent them from leaning forward and nose-diving while in midair. It’s because the cars were very heavy in the front.
5. The infamous dixie horn was from a random driver chased down the road.
The infamous Dukes of Hazzard horn – the dixie horn – has a pretty cool backstory. The horn played the first 12 notes of the song “Dixie,” and it has been one of the most unforgettable features of General Lee.
While filming the show’s first episodes, the producers went on a bit of cruise around Atlanta. While driving, two producers of the show heard a car drive by with a Dixie horn, and they instantly knew they needed it for General Lee. They chased the car down and bought the horn from the driver for $300.
Later on, the producers found out that the horn wasn’t as rare as they thought! They could have bought it at any old auto parts store for much less than what they paid the random driver.
6. General Lee got 35,000 fan letters a month.
While John Schneider (Bo Duke) and Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) were the stars of the show, both the actors and the producers found out that the real main attraction was General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger that trafficked them from one caper to another. Out of the 60,000 fan letters the show received every month in 1981, 35,000 was all about General Lee, either wanting more information about or some pictures of the car.
7. The show experienced a shortage of Dodge Chargers.
During the last years of the show, the producers found they had created a shortage of 1969 Dodge Chargers. In an attempt to combat the shortage, the people behind the show were said to have placed notes on the windshields of 1969 Dodge Chargers in parking lots, asking the owners if it’s okay if they buy them. They also used AMC Ambassadors painted in orange and used fancy camera angles and editing techniques to try hiding the switch.
8. Miniature cars were used during the final season for some stunts in the show.
General Lee, besides the actors, was a primary attraction for viewers of the series. The show wrecked dozens of Dodge Chargers for many years by crashing, jumping, and otherwise abusing them, creating some terrific footage. For the final season in 1985, the show decided to turn into miniature effects to save on production costs (and because of the Charger shortage). After all, it was cheaper to mangle a Hot Wheels-sized model than the real thing.
9. Bo Duke auctioned a Dodge Charger for $10 million.
Bo Duke himself owned a car from The Dukes of Hazzard, and it went up for auction in November 2017. While there was a bit of controversy around that car and the Confederate flag on its hood, the car still sold around for $10 million.
10. John Schneider lied to get the part.
In multiple interviews, the actor who played Bo Duke, John Schneider, has admitted that he lied his way into the role. He was only 18 at the time he auditioned, but he told the people involved that he was actually 24. During his audition, he also spoke in a fake Southern accent, wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and holding a six-pack of beer in tow. It turns out his whole country boy persona was just an act since he was actually from New York City. Nevertheless, it just showed his talent as an actor, so he got the part.
11. The man who played Boss Hogg didn’t want to make his role too evil.
Anyone who grew up watching The Dukes of Hazzard despised Boss Hogg, the show’s main antagonist, and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. Played by actor Sorell Booke, Boss Hogg was a crooked and corrupt county commissioner and Bo and Luke Duke’s probation officer.
While it was obvious that he wasn’t supposed to be a likable guy, Sorrell didn’t want the producers of the show to take things too far with this character. He stated in his contract that Boss Hogg would never be involved in dealing drugs and killing anyone. These conditions were met, and still, Boss Hogg managed to be perfectly antagonistic.
12. Daisy Duke’s famous shorts were almost outlawed.
The short jean shorts are commonly referred to as “Daisy Dukes,” thanks to Catherine Bach, who played Daisy Dukes on the show. Her shorts became an overnight sensation after viewers first saw her in those teeny tiny shorts in The Dukes of Hazzard. However, Daisy’s shorts almost weren’t part of the show. At first, the network executives freaked out when they saw Catherine wearing the shorts, so they told the producers she wasn’t allowed to wear them on the show.
After some convincing, the executives eventually agreed to let the actress sport her short shorts, on the condition that she would wear pantyhose as well so nothing would be accidentally shown on camera. As it turns out, the pantyhose further emphasized Catherine’s long legs. That was not what the executives were hoping for.