The Volo Auto Museum has what they believe is the best original 1969 General Lee Dodge Charger from the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ TV show. Of the 249 Dodge Chargers prepped to appear in the 1970-1986 Warner Brothers TV series only one remains in perfect original condition. It is currently on display at Volo and was listed this week in the Cars On Line.com Celebrity Car Section as being available for sale.
This car has been SOLD.
They tell us that this 1969 General Lee Dodge Charger was one of the original eight cars prepared for filming the first five episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard. It is designated LEE 8. Although it never appeared on film Volo tells us that it still has its original Flame Orange paint and is one of the few General Lee’s to be wearing its original “01” racing numerals, “confederate Naval flag” and “GENERAL LEE” accents that were hand painted by Larry West.
It has many rare parts on the car that were salvaged from the other screen used General Lee’s after they met their demise. The roll bar was salvaged from LEE 1, it has an original narrow front bumper push bar and the grey 14″ wheels.
The first five episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard TV series were filmed in Georgia. For the first episode Warner Brothers had three 1969 Dodge Chargers set up with orange paint, the number 01 on the doors, a Confederate Naval flag on the roof and the police type front push bumper. The director named the cars LEE 1, LEE 2, LEE 3.
It was evident after the filming of the first episode that they were going to need more ’69 Dodge Chargers. Don Schisler, one of the original team that built the Georgia cars and the show’s transportation coordinator, a Warner Brothers employee, bought an additional five Chargers to be prepped for the show. But when filming ended in Georgia, Warner Brothers moved the production to California. Schisler knew this General Lee, LEE 8, had not been used and never been crashed, so he persuaded Warner Brothers to sell him the car. This was the only car from the series sold by the studio that did not have promotional restrictions on the sales contract. He bought it on a simple Bill of Sale.
Since Schisler bought this Charger from Warner Brothers it was not shipped to California, like the other seven original cars which all were damaged during filming. It was spared being “one of the 249 General Lee’s wrecked during the filming” in the years to come. Schisler is thought to have driven his General Lee and enjoyed the attention the car brought him until 1980 when he sold the car. By that time he said all the attention had started to become annoying. People would come up to his house to see if the Duke boys were there.
After the first five episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard had aired the General Lee became the star of the show. Warner Brothers says it received 35,000 pieces of fan mail a month about the car.
Volo says they have a 3-ring binder documenting this car’s history, a complete timeline from prior to Warner Bros purchasing the car until the present. Click through to the Volo Museum ad page to see dozens of photos of the car and of documents. Included are notarized bills of sales when Warner Bros purchased the car and when they sold it to Schisler. In addition to the pile of paperwork, they also have pictures of the car in its original condition, on set, sitting next to LEE 1 (in the pictures, it’s the gold car in the background, the smashed up car is LEE 1). The car has also been signed by the majority of the cast members, signatures were documented with photos. See a photo here of John Schneider and the current owner of the car.
The say the General Lee went airborn 150 times during filming of the CBS TV series Dukes of Hazzard. Only rarely did one of the General Lee’s survive the jumps in usable condition. When filming a jump, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds of sand bags or concrete was put in the trunk of the General Lees to keep them from getting nose heavy. Many of the cars that had to do one of the big jumps would crunch the frame on landing. All the cars that did the big jumps were retired immediately after filming due to structural damage.
When Dukes’ Nielsen ratings plunged in 1986, CBS pulled the show. Warner Brothers abandoned 18 General Lees at the set, and the cars gathered dust for five years. In 1991, they sold 17 of those cars to private owners.