The General Lee is one of the most recognizable cars ever in television history, but it turns out that there wasn’t one General Lee. The Dukes of Hazzard used hundreds of them. That’s because Dodge didn’t build the Charger to drive off of ramps, fly through the air, and crash back to earth at full force.
“We went through — my conservative estimate is 329 — 150 shows, two cars a show, and leave a little room for error,” Schneider said. “When they landed they didn’t land well. … They kind of came apart.”
The Duke Boys were famous for their daring escapes. That usually consisted of a conveniently placed ramp and something to leap over. But it turns out — if this were real life — Boss Hogg would have caught them almost immediately.
“When you hit the ramp, the damage is already done,” Schneider said. “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.”
Schneider estimated that maybe five or six of the cars survived to fly another day. The show cannibalized the damaged cars for any salvageable parts. The Dukes of Hazzard sent the rest to the scrap heap.
And Schneider admits that while he was a star of The Dukes of Hazzard, the real star was the General Lee. At one point, the car — the car — received 35,000 fan letters a month.
There’s More to Schneider than ‘Dukes of Hazzard’
Dukes of Hazzard actor John Schneider is often introduced as Bo Duke. He hates that. It’s because he’s done so much in the intervening years that it feels reductive.
Schneider is clearly best remembered as Bo Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard. He played the popular character of the show from 1979 until 1985. And for all of the success that the show had, Bo Duke was right in the middle of it.
But since then he starred in other shows as well such as the 2001-2011 television series Smallville. He appeared in Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots. Schneider also has a bustling music career.
He released nine studio albums over three decades and had a string of number one country hits. But it always comes back to Bo Duke, he says.
“Every time somebody starts out, ‘You know him best from The Dukes of Hazzard,’ I just want to strangle them,” Schneider told Christianity Today in 2012. “I did a couple of radio interviews recently, and one guy said, ‘We got Bo Duke on the line!’ So there I am, on live radio, and I said, ‘Really? Is that right? That’s who you have on the phone right now? I’ll do ‘Yee-haw!’ for you later, but right now, let’s talk about October Baby.’”