I’ve been a lover of cars since I was a young child, driving around in my dad’s tow truck with him. If you’ve ever read my blog, my love of automotive culture is well documented. A big part of that is movies and TV shows that feature cars that are so iconic, they’re basically characters themselves.
There’s plenty of examples of this, like the Smokey & The Bandit Trans Am:
Icon cars: Smokey and the Bandit 1977 Pontiac Trans Am pic.twitter.com/k0IrLvVHXw
— Bill Campbell (@1billcampbell) January 18, 2017
Steve McQueen’s mustang from Bullitt:
— Periodismo del Motor (@periodismomotor) February 5, 2017
There’s Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds, which by the way is at the Canadian International Auto Show right now!:
— Canadian AutoShow (@autoshowcanada) February 25, 2017
There’s Doc Brown’s DeLorean from Back To The Future:
— This Date in Film (@thisdateinfilm) January 21, 2017
I’ve loved all of these cars, but there’s another one that holds a special place in my heart: General Lee, the Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard:
Of course, the General Lee was known for spending roughly the same amount of time in the air as it did on the ground. Them Duke boys sure know a thing or two about jumpin’ cars and evading the law.
This weekend, the Autorama Auto Show, “America’s Greatest Hot Rod Show,” is happening at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. People taking in the show gathered together along this here road on Friday to watch stuntman Raymond Kohn slipped behind the wheel of a specially-prepared jump-ready General Lee and launch it off a ramp at 55 MPH.
It gives you a pretty good idea of what actually happens when you launch a 50-year-old muscle car off a ramp, without any of the Hollywood magic that went into The Dukes of Hazzard.
It’s hard to see it as easily from that angle, but fortunately for us, there are more out there. Watch this one closely, specifically how the car comes down rather nose-heavy:
As you can see from the moment of impact, the nose of the car actually touches down before the front wheels do – a common problem in front-engined cars. When I was younger, I was watching the show with my dad (who is a mechanic) and he explained to me how even though it always looks like the same car, there were actually hundreds of them that were used throughout the course of the series, since the landing of each jump usually folded the front end right up.
In fact, IMDB can confirm this:
Somewhere between 256 and 321 “General Lee” cars were created and mostly destroyed during the series. Less than 20 in various states of disrepair still exist. Despite popular belief, there were no 1970 Chargers used in the series according to all the car builders.
In fact, you can see it pretty clearly in a bunch of the clips from this awesome compilation of just about all the General Lee’s jumps from 1979-2000:
Watch each time it lands. Usually it’s the front end that gets all crunched up, but in other scenes it’s the rear end that gets crunched up. At any rate, any 1969 Dodge Charger that was thrown over a jump like that wasn’t going to be driving away from it, and that’s where the Hollywood magic comes in.
You can find out a little more about the General Lee and a few other famous TV cars here:
Until next time, keep the shiny side up.
And for the love of God, don’t try this at home!
[Hat tip to Jalopnik]