‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ Struggled to Find Enough General Lee Car Replacements

The Dukes of Hazzard car, the General Lee, may have been more iconic and important to the show than the actual Dukes themselves. In fact, the car was so revered that it received its own fan mail. However, the fact that The Dukes of Hazzard kept its stunts real also meant that many General Lee cars were destroyed while filming. As a result, the crew often struggled to find additional cars for filming — even resorting to some odd methods for hunting down new General Lee cars.

Hundreds of General Lee cars were destroyed

Tom Wopat, Catherine Bach, and John Schneider pose on The Dukes of Hazzard car, the General Lee
Tom Wopat, Catherine Bach, and John Schneider of The Dukes of Hazzard | CBS/Courtesy of Getty Images

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The Dukes of Hazzard car, the General Lee, was famous for its many high-flying stunts. The car was often sent airborne, resulting in some glorious shots — all of which were filmed using real cars performing real stunts, no stock footage.

However, this also meant the car suffered a lot of damage. Realistically, no car is going to make those wild leaps without getting pretty beat up on the landing. The General Lee was certainly not fit to drive away into the sunset after its jumps. 

As a result upwards of 300 General Lee cars were destroyed while filming The Dukes of Hazzard

What’s more, the General Lee had to be modified to properly fly through the air the way directors wanted. Typically, a Dodge Charger would nosedive once it was airborne, due to the weight distribution favoring the front of the vehicle. 

As a result, the crew loaded the trunk up with concrete and sandbag ballast to ensure that it flew nose-first into the air.

‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ crew did flyovers and left out flyers to buy cars

Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer pose with the iconic The Dukes of Hazzard car
Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer pose with the iconic The Dukes of Hazzard car | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Because The Dukes of Hazzard cars were destroyed so often, the crew was always looking for replacement vehicles for future stunts. Eventually, they started running out of readily available Dodge Charges for the General Lee.

This meant that the crew wound up performing flyovers in aircraft over residential areas, hunting for any Dodge Chargers in driveways. They also sent crew to parking lots to comb through them looking for General Lee replacements, leaving flyers on any they found.

Eventually, the show had to result to using miniature models and recycled footage to make up for the lack of Dodge Chargers available to replace the General Lee.

‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ cars were sold or re-used

John Schneider, Tom Wopat, and Ben Jones as Bo Duke, Luke Duke, and Cooter in The Dukes of Hazzard. They are posing with the General Lee car, a 1969 Dodge Charger.
John Schneider, Tom Wopat, and Ben Jones as Bo Duke, Luke Duke, and Cooter in The Dukes of Hazzard. They are posing with the General Lee car, a 1969 Dodge Charger. | Fotos International/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

According to Mental Floss, The Dukes of Hazzard car was cannibalized for re-use as often as possible. Typically, mechanics would try to take advantage of any undamaged doors, roofs, and engine parts for future models. 

Additionally, beat up General Lee cars were often repainted and used as extra background vehicles, or in chase scenes. 

In 1991, 17 General Lee cars sitting unused were sold by WB to private owners. Eventually, two collectors discovered the General Lee used in the first episode sitting in a junkyard, and restored it before selling it for $110,000.