Very first General Lee comes to Indianapolis Auto Show
Fans of the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard" will get a special treat at the 2007 Indianapolis Auto Show: They'll get to "meet" the very first General Lee used on the show, in the first official appearance of the car's two-year tour.
[ClickPress, Wed Dec 06 2006] Fans of the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard" will get a special treat at the 2007 Indianapolis Auto Show: They'll get to "meet" the very first General Lee used on the show, in the first official appearance of the car's two-year tour.
Lee 1, as it was originally labeled by the Warner Bros. production crew and as it has come to be known years later by "Dukes" fans, will appear at the auto show on December 28-29, just inside the entrance of the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome.
"Lee 1 is a tribute to its fans and to their undying love for their machines," says Marvin Murphy of Florida, who was part of the team that spent 16 months restoring the car. "This icon has literally arisen out of a junk heap and soared back into our lives as a priceless treasure."
The first of hundreds of fiery-orange 1969 Dodge Chargers used in the show's production, Lee 1 performed the very first vehicle jump for "The Dukes of Hazzard," in front of Georgia's Oxford College on November 11, 1978 for the show's pilot episode. Stunt driver Craig Baxley was behind the wheel (though in the show's scene, Bo Duke, played by John Schneider, was driving) for the jump, which took the car 16 feet up in the air, over a Hazzard County sheriff's car, and landed it 82 feet away from the ramp. The famous jump was shown in the opening of every episode thereafter.
As with most of the show's General Lees, Lee 1 was totaled, making just one more appearance as a wrecked race car (with a different coat of paint) in the show's fourth episode, "Repo Men."
Following that appearance, it slipped into obscurity, spending 24 years in a Metro Atlanta junkyard before being recovered in 2001. For the past year and a half, Team Lee 1 worked meticulously to being the car back to the state it was in when it first left the ramp at Oxford College 28 years ago, utilizing as many of the car's original parts as possible.
"Though some of the original parts were used as donor parts to other Generals, a surprising amount of parts are original to the car today, after having survived that jump," says Travis Bell of Indianapolis, who helped recover the car from the junkyard.
"He retains his original numbers matching drive train with all four tags attached," Bell says. "The engine is a 383 4 bbl, and the big block still powers him today. The transmission is a 727 Torque flight and the rear end is an 8:75. He has a dual exhaust."
Amazingly, the car's windshield survived the 1978 jump, though it now still bears the crack it received in the landing. "The 1970s college sticker is still in place on the windshield," Bell says, "right next to the studio's label 'Lee 1.' "
Lee 1 was officially unveiled to fans in the birthplace of "The Dukes of Hazzard," Covington, Georgia, where the first five episodes were filmed before the show's premiere on CBS in January 1979. That November 11 unveiling kicked off a two-year tour that will lead up to the vehicle's 30th anniversary in 2008.
Originally airing from 1979 to 1985, "The Dukes of Hazzard" also starred Tom Wopat and Catherine Bach. The series currently airs in reruns on Country Music Television cable.
Murphy says that Lee 1 deserves its place in history as an American icon, and that this two-year tour of appearances is truly for the fans. "It is priceless and should belong to all who've loved the show and watched it for almost 30 years," he says.
The Indianapolis Auto Show runs December 26 through January 1, opening at 11 a.m. each day. Tickets are $6 each for adults; admission is free for children 12 and under, as well as for active members of the military, police and fire departments. For more information, call (317) 266-8455 or visit www.indyautoshow.com.
For more information about Lee 1 or the Lee 1 family, visit the website for the North American General Lee Fan Club, www.generalleefanclub.com.