‘The Dukes of Hazzard’: How the General Lee Got its Iconic Horn Sound

by Katie Maloney

The General Lee on “The Dukes of Hazzard” was just as famous as any of the other characters on the show.

Everybody knows Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke. But the General Lee was a character all to itself on “The Dukes of Hazzard.” To this day, people still customize their cars to resemble the iconic car from the show. That paint scheme and racing number along with the hilarious horn sound make the General Lee recognizable around the nation. So how did the show’s creators come up with the ideas that made the car so memorable?

Well, while they were filming the pilot episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” two of the directors were eating breakfast in Covington, Georgia. While eating, a car drove by and played the opening bars to “Dixie” when it honked its horn. The two directors chased down the car and bought the horn for $300. The crew installed the horn into the General Lee that day and the rest is iconic television show car history.

The General Lee in “The Dukes of Hazzard”

How Many General Lee’s Did it Take to Film ‘The Duke Of Hazzard?’

The producers of the show didn’t like to use stock footage when it came to car jump scenes. So, every single one of the jumps on the show was filmed separately. This means that “The Dukes of Hazzard” trashed a whole lot of cars. The show used one or two Dodge Chargers per episode! In fact, at one point, Warner Bros. used so many cars that they ran out. So studio employees left notes on the windshields of Chargers in grocery store parking lots offering to buy the cars.

During an interview, John Schneider, who played Bo Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard” estimated just how many cars the show went through while shooting stunts.

“We went through — my conservative estimate is 329 — 150 shows, two cars a show, and leave a little room for error,” said Schneider. “When they landed they didn’t land well. … They kind of came apart.”

Certainly, the Dukes were famous for their daring escapes. But Schneider explained that, in real life, the Dukes never would have escaped after one of their famous car jumps.

“When you hit the ramp, the damage is already done,” said Schneider. “You hit the ramp, the radiator usually gets pushed back. The fan gets comes through the radiator. That stops. You’ve still got your foot on the gas, you blow a head gasket, you blow the motor, and then you hit the ground.”