- “General Lee” paint job
- High-performance 510-ci V8
- Fuel injection
- Modern suspension and brakes
|1969 Dodge Charger R/T “General Lee”
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|Dash, radiator core support
|Engine Number Location:
|1977 Pontiac Trans Am “Smokey and the Bandit,” 1976 Ford Gran Torino “Starsky and Hutch,” 1983 GMC G-series Vandura “The A-Team”
This car, Lot 698.1, sold for $55,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Auction, held October 3–5, 2019. It was part of a package deal, sold alongside Lot 698.2, a 1973 Plymouth Satellite custom coupe police patrol car. Together, the pair made $110,000.
Put up your Dukes
Like human celebrities, cars that are recognizable from movies and television shows just have a cachet that even the prettiest stock restoration can’t match. Show up at a car meet in a notable hero car and suddenly you’re the celebrity. It’s a quick way to draw a crowd.
Which cars are the most recognizable? Well, it’s subjective of course, depending on your age and taste, but our list would include any Batmobile, the Bluesmobile, Kitt from “Knight Rider,” the “Back to the Future” DeLorean, any of the bewinged or supercharged racers from “The Fast and the Furious,” but let’s say the Supra, Eclipse and Charger — and of course, speaking of Chargers, the General Lee from “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
“The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show first charged onscreen in 1979, running until 1985. It followed the exploits of a couple of small-town country boys who didn’t always follow the rules but were “never meaning no harm.” The plots were repetitive — get wind of Boss Hogg’s bad plan, foil the plan, and at some point, have a car chase down a dirt road and jump a car over something. The cars got as much screen time as the actors, and the Duke boys’ 1969 Dodge Charger might be more famous than any other part of the show aside from Daisy Duke’s short-shorts.
Since most of us probably can’t get away with walking into a car show in hot pants, the next best way to win over the crowd is to show up in an orange ’69 Charger with the “01” on the door, a push bumper on the front, and black-and-silver “Vector” wheels on all four corners. Hood-sliding optional.
The paint’s too nice on this Charger for hood sliding, plus you’ll probably want to leave it open so people can admire the decidedly not-stock, fuel-injected, 510-ci stroked big block in the engine bay — much beefier than the 383s and small blocks that powered many of the TV cars.
The aluminum-headed Dodge is backed by a GM automatic transmission and 8¾ Mopar rear with 3.55 gears. Cooter the mechanic didn’t build this one, although he would have been impressed by its 600 hp and 600 ft-lb of torque. You can do all the burnouts you want and get plenty of launching power with all them horses. Just don’t smash the deep Milodon 8-quart oil pan when you land. Feel free to swing it hard around the corners, though; with a custom coil-over suspension and Wilwood brakes, this General is modern machinery.
It’s up to you if you want to climb in through the window Bo Duke style or just open the door like a regular schmoe. Unlike the screen car, this Charger does not appear to have the doors welded shut. Really, it would be a shame if it did, since the interior looks great in refinished tan. It’s all in working order, with new gauges and a roll bar, but looks stock with its woodgrain console and slim matching steering wheel. The original stunt cars were a lot less finished inside.
The cars built for television filming varied based on the stunt needs — no reason to spend too much time on the details if the whole thing was going to crash through the side of a barn a few minutes into the show. Somewhere between 250 and 325 Chargers were used during the Dukes’ seven seasons, and fewer than 20 of the original cars are known to exist, in various degrees of stunt-readiness.
The most recent sale of an actual star car was at Mecum in 2019, when a rather crumpled and scarred stunt car from the 2005 movie remake sold for $88,000. A less bashed-up car from the movie went the same year for $57,000. Both are a long way from the $121,000 that golf champion Bubba Watson paid in 2012 for “Lee 1,” used in the opening sequence of the television show.
At first glance, you might think the buyer got a heck of a deal on a resto-modded Charger for less than we usually see them go for, but see, this one is a bit of a math problem, since the lot was actually two cars.
The Charger was partnered for sale with a ’73 Plymouth Satellite in police-cruiser trim — basically a DIY chase-scene kit. If you split the $110,000, the Charger seems cheap, but $55,000 is a lot to pay for a 318 Satellite, even if it does make an excellent garage buddy to an orange General Lee.
Based off this sale, it seems that interest in owning a General Lee isn’t waning. Neither of the cars in this pairing was used in any filming, which means they weren’t driven by the stars of the show and they never jumped a creek. None of that will matter too much to folks who see them pull in at a local car show though, and that’s worth yee-hawing about.
(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)