The General Lee goes under the hammer across the Tasman this month.
The best known Dodge Charger in the world, the bright orange 1969 model, General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard TV series, goes under the hammer across the Tasman this month. With a Confederate Stars and Bars flag on the roof, the General was driven by good ole boys Luke and Bo Duke, and was famous for action-packed stunts, including high-speed pursuits and long and high jumps.
The car became a star in its own right. Between 1979 and 1985, it’s believed 309 Chargers (many of them painted-up Plymouth versions sold originally as rental cars) were used in The Dukes of Hazzard, during which they were routinely destroyed at the rate of one or two per episode while performing their punishing stunts.
The first was built for Warner Bros by Andre and Renaud Valuzet, before production shifted in-house, each later vehicle having to meet strict guidelines for filming continuity. Of these, it’s estimated that only around 23 originals survive today, although guesstimates on the number vary.
Regardless, documented General Lee Dodge Chargers are now very collectable, as shown by the record price achieved at auction last year for the original ‘Lee 1’, which sold in America for well over $10 million. Australian auction house Shannons are auctioning one of these rare surviving General Lee Chargers at the Melbourne International Motor Show Auction next Monday March 10 and estimate that it will sell for between $Au220,000 and $260,000.
The 1969 Dodge Charger is based on an original 440-cid R/T and was converted to General Lee configuration by General Lee Enterprises in the early 1980s. General Lee Enterprises built a small number of cars (somewhere between eight and 11) that Warner Bros used for promotional work and some close-ups in filming. The car subsequently spent 20 years in storage in Kentucky prior to undergoing a comprehensive restoration and was then sold to the current Australian owner last year. In September/October 2007, the full drivetrain rebuild took place and the vehicle generally tidied up in the cosmetic department, and is now in great condition both inside and out.
The Charger will be sold registered in Victoria on ‘GN-LEE’ plates along with a Victorian roadworthy certificate that will be supplied after the sale. The Dodge comes with supporting documentation, including American titles.