Posts Tagged ‘general lee

07
Jan
20

Last General Lee build in Georgia!

Last Built General Lee in Georgia

Last Built General Lee in Georgia

Written by Jim Suva

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In 1978, Warner Brothers Studios had a new TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard. It starred John Schneider as Bo Duke and Tom Wopat as Luke Duke. They were cousins who lived with another cousin, Daisy Duke, played by Catherine Bach. They lived in corrupt Hazzard County and were always in trouble with the law for doing the right thing. Another star of the show was their 1969 Dodge Charger they called the General Lee. The show ran for seven seasons, from 1979 to 1985.

The Start of Filming

Warner Brothers in California built three General Lees and sent them to Georgia for filming in November of 1978. The first five episodes of Dukes of Hazzard were filmed in Georgia, from November to December of that year. Don Schisler was hired as the transportation coordinator for the show and H&H Auto Body, owned by Henry Holman, was the shop that kept the cars in good working order. During that time, they rebuilt the three original General Lees over and over, to the point that they needed to acquire more cars. They built and used two more Chargers during filming for the first five episodes, for a total of five General Lees. After the first five episodes, production went on Christmas break; filming was to continue in January. However, during the Christmas break, Warner Brothers decided it would be better to film in California instead of Georgia, and production never returned to Georgia. The Studio had any usable vehicles in Georgia sent to California. This included three General Lees. The rest of Season 1 and all additional seasons were filmed in California, where it has been said anywhere from 250 – 350 General Lees were used. Of the five General Lees from the Georgia filming, Lee #1 and Lee #2 were scrapped, Lees #3, #4 and #5 were sent to California, used, and eventually scrapped. None of the five screen used Georgia cars remains today.

Volo’s History with The General Lee (#6)

In 2007 Volo Museum Director, Brian Grams, ran across a General Lee for sale. The description was vague, but it appeared to be documented with Warner Brothers paperwork. Volo promoted a “real General Lee” which sparked heated debate in the Dukes of Hazzard Fan community. They were told the car was never used, nor was it built by Warner Brothers. Volo was told it was bought as a parts car and was turned into a replica General Lee much later. At that time, Brian was no expert on the Dukes of Hazzard, so he had to rely on what he was told. But Brian also asked a lot of questions!

Investigation into Volo’s General Lee (#6)

The former president of the now defunct General Lee Fan Club, Travis Bell, visited the museum, suspicious of the validity of the car. He looked the car over and was able to confirm with Volo that their car has the main hoop section of the roll bar in it from Lee #1. Travis has the additional pieces of the roll bar from Lee #1 and was able to match them up, using the cuts and some of the chain links. Travis also supplied Volo with a few pictures of the car in pre-General Lee condition, taken at H&H Auto Body. This is where Brian’s investigation truly began.

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Looking at the photos of the car in its original state, it was obvious to him that the car was much too nice to have been a parts car. Brian questioned if they had a car that nice sitting there, then why would they not use it instead of rebuilding the wrecked ones? One thing the photos did prove is that the car was still in its original state after filming had finished in Georgia. Lee #1 was repainted blue and used in the final scene filmed. Lee #1 was sitting next to Volo’s car (gold) in its final state before going to the scrap yard. Brian knew it was not screen used, but still questioned its pedigree based on the fact it was too nice to be a parts car.

He contacted a man by the name of Jon Holland. Jon had written a book called Roads Back to Early Hazzard. He was and still is the devil’s advocate about this car, saying that it is a Warner Brothers owned parts car that was bought by Don Schisler and turned into a General Lee replica years after production. Don gave the car to his son, John Schisler. Jon Holland has talked down the car since day one, which has been one of the greatest resources Brian could have had, because whenever Jon said something about the car, it gave Brian a new direction. For example, Jon said the car was painted several years after production left Georgia. This gave Brian the clue to finding out when the car was painted. If it was painted several years later, then it is a replica, plain and simple. However, if it was painted before Don Schisler bought the car (Dec 1, 1979) then it is a real General Lee and not a replica.

Thus began the quest: when was the car painted orange? No one seemed to know. Jon Holland’s theory is that the car was gold when production left Georgia, as seen in the photos. Brian’s debate on that is that just because the film production went on break, that didn’t mean business at H&H stopped. They had wrecked cars to dispose of, and not knowing at the time that production wouldn’t return, they would have been preparing for the return of production, which was supposed to happen in only a few weeks. Filming stopped, production did not.

The first thing that was proven, thanks to Travis Bell, was that the roll bar was in fact from Lee #1. The next thing discovered was that it was not Larry West who did the graphics on the car. Brian had posted the car to the Volo Auto Museum’s Facebook page which showed a man painting the graphics on it, with the caption “Larry West painting the graphics on our General Lee”. Soon after, someone named Ronnie Edwards left a comment “That’s not Larry West, that’s me”. Brian reached out to Ronnie and asked some questions. Ronnie was hired by Don Schisler to do graphic painting. Ronnie said Don hired him to do two General Lees. Lee #6 was for the show, it was a gold car with a 360 engine, that is Volo’s car. Ronnie said “It’s the real deal and the holy grail of all General Lees out there”. Ronnie could not remember when he did the graphics on the car, but he did supply Brian with more photos of the car when it was at his shop, having the graphics painted. There was an interesting item in one photo, the roof of a General Lee can be seen leaning against his building. This was the roof from Lee #2. They cut it off so Ronnie could copy the graphics.

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Lee #1 and Lee #2 went to the scrap yard on Christmas Eve 1978, which raises the thought in Brian’s mind, if the car was built years later and Lee #1 and #2 went to the scrap yard, what is the probability that they would have, without reason, cut out the roll bar from Lee #1 and the roof of Lee #2, and just have them sitting around for years. Common sense says, they cut those parts off because they had immediate use, which tells Brian the photos were taken closer to the filming dates than the claimed built dates. Common sense isn’t proof though. Brian studied the pictures hard, looking to see if he could find something with a date, like a registration sticker, and then he spotted it. In the background of the General Lee is a sign “Bill Hutson for Sheriff”. Bill Hutson became Sheriff in 1980, his campaign was in 1979. The election was the 2nd Tuesday in November of 1979. Ordinance is a campaign sign must be down no later than 10 days after the election. This was a populated town and not a rural area, the ordinance would likely have been enforced. That means the picture was taken no later than November 23rd 1979, and there the car is, as a General Lee. That means the car was turned into a General Lee sometime between December 24th 1978 and November 23rd 1979. Don didn’t buy the car until December 1st of that year, after it was already a General Lee. This also proves Jon’s “Years later” comment was incorrect. Being fair, there could have been a verbal agreement between Warner Brothers and Don and that’s just the paperwork date. So technically, Don could have built it into a replica, just earlier than thought.

Travis Bell, who confirmed the roll bar, had come across more photos of Volo’s General Lee, this time at H&H Auto Body with H&H employee Danny Hobbs behind the wheel of the car. Those photos place the car at H&H proving H&H were the ones to paint the car. So, Brian questioned how he could get in touch with any of the original builders. Ronnie Edwards was able to give him contact info for Don Schisler’s son, John, who was a helping hand during production, as well as the one the car was supposedly built for. Don had passed away several years prior to Brian’s investigations, so he was unable to speak with him. When Brian asked John about the car and brought up the story about the replica built from a parts car for him, he chuckled and said, “There is nothing further from the truth”. They had a discussion, which he later put in writing, that it was the last car they had built for the show. He said he remembered it well because it was the last one built. He said it is the only surviving Georgia era General Lee.

Brian was able to find Henry Holman, owner of H&H Auto Body and speak to him. Henry said, in writing, it was the last car they had built for the show, Lee #6. He also said he remembered it well, because he was the one who found it. Henry was making a beer run to the gas station, when a woman pulled up in the car, he asked her if she wanted to sell it, put her in touch with Don and they made a deal. He said when it was announced that production was moving to California there were four General Lees on set, three of them went to California, and the fourth was given to Don Schisler, to settle money owned to him by Warner brothers. Warner Brothers gave Don Schisler all the unusable wrecked and scrapped cars as partial payment. This showed the car as being built prior to mid-January 1979, and built for Warner Brothers with intent to be used, NOT as a replica for Don’s son.

Later Brian was able to track down John Blanchette, who purchased the car from Don Schisler in November of 1980. According to him, Don told him the car was screen used for close up shots and was sold to him as the real deal. John, amazingly, kept and still had possession of all his records of the car from work he had done to it, old photos, letter correspondents and best of all the original ad he purchased it from. The ad that Don Schisler himself posted. The ad clearly reads “General Lee as owned and built by Warner Bro. for Dukes of Hazzard series, not a replica, only privately-owned General Lee in existence.” The phone number in the ad corresponds to Don Schisler and is actually still is registered to his family.

General Don Ad

Brian was later able to contact one other person, Danny Hobbs, the man pictured in the car at H&H Auto Body. He too confirmed that they “Got it ready, but didn’t use it” in the Georgia episodes.

Explaining the False Stories

As a summary, the false “known history” of the car was that it was originally bought by Warner Brothers, used as a parts car only, and was sold to Don Schisler, who later restored the car into a replica for his son John. Actually, this was the 6th General Lee ever built, as well as the last General Lee ever prepared by the Georgia crew for screen use. It is also the only surviving Georgia-era General Lee. If filming didn’t move to California, this car would have been used and would not exist today. It is the first General Lee ever to be released to the public. The Volo ad has cool factor of being the first advertisement ever for a General Lee!

So, where did the parts car/replica rumor come from? This is what Don Schisler told people over the years. But why? It’s likely because when production moved to California, Don was given all the scrap and parts cars. Since the car was never screen used, Warner Brothers wouldn’t have known if the car was a parts car or a ready-to-use General Lee. He could easily acquire the car by saying it’s a parts car. The bill of sale shows “$10 and consideration” which supports the car was given to him as part of the “scrap and parts cars agreement”. When questioned, to avoid any backlash, he maintained the story he told Warner Brothers, except when he told the complete opposite, in writing, in his ad! Don basically told two different stories.

Travis Bell and a partner of his, located Lee #1 in the scrap yard and purchased it. That is how Travis was able to confirm the Volo car’s roll bar is from Lee #1. Volo’s #6 car has had only 1,500 miles on it since 1978 and it is all original and unrestored, just as it was built in 1978/79. Original H&H paint, original hand painted graphics, original wheels, push bar, etc., hence the only “Surviving Georgia Lee”.

Epilog

Brian believes only 20 TV series General Lees exist. 17 of the California cars were sold off to Wayne Wooten in 1990 – these are the ones that have a contract and are for private use only. There is Volo’s Lee #6, Lee #1, now owned by Bubba Watson, and there is a California TV series car that Warner Brothers painted a different color and used for another TV show after Dukes of Hazzard. It was later discovered to be a General Lee. Volo’s car is the nicest unrestored General Lee in existence.

You can find a video and many of the documents on the Volo Auto Museum website https://www.volocars.com/the-attraction/vehicles/13166/1969-dodge-charger

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27
Nov
12

Nate Truman’s starcarcentral.com in the Hollywood Christmas Parade 2012

The biggest group of movie and TV star cars ever assembled for a parade in the world!

29
Sep
09

Cruising for a Cure 2009 Nate Truman & Charger Steve Movie and TV star car pals unite!

Bomber%20girl2Another great gathering of star cars from movie and TV were on display for the 2009 crusing for a cure car show last weekend.
To support Prostate Cancer research, and to get lots of guys tested (including a few from our group this time!) we all got in our star cars and drove to the Orange County fairgrounds for the USA’s largest one day car show event.
http://www.cruisinforacure.com/

Charger Steve came from San Diego with his first time BTTF Delorian conversion patterened after the first movie,
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and Steve brought a long a few new SD pals, Lee – who bought his General Lee,
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Mike with his “Tow Mater” tow truck,
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and then a nice pile of the Hollywood Star cars fron StarCarCentral.com!

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Alex was kind enough to go the extra miles and drop “hoff” his KITT right next to Brian’s Horace the Hate bug! Back in Black, BABY!
We all kept an eye on Jennifer who was well behaved with the remote controls, and polished KITT properly all day! See Alex? That’s me videotaping her from the other side, so you can review her polishing style later and give her a report on how she did!
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Brian upped his display with a new dvd loop of Horace in the movie, and a cool targeting scanner and pistol grip for shooting a certain white VW!
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Jerry brought his Herbie for a nice set of “marshmellows” one fresh, one burnt!
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Lou and Lynda got V.I.P. parking in a solo spot across from the rest of us….
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and rounding out the star cars is the NOT a Barris Batmobile – world famous Fireball Run afterburning Natemobile!
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I resurected the sign from the world con, (after finding it behind some stuff in my garage….) OK so I guess I could work on my display….
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As usual, lots of people and fans were happy to see their favorite cars!
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As it was a LOT COOLER this year, we actually did take a lap, but without Jennifer’s puppydog urging, we might not have! We finally got in our cars, fired them up and took off!!!!… at zero to 2 miles an hour!
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To keep up the tradition, we drove past Barris’ booth again, and he wasn’t there, but we got a fun shout out from the Barris workers and Joji!
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The Bat and Towmater moved over to the other side with Lou and let the world cool down a bit (and the cars!)
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Our little “herd of cats” wandered too and fro, I had lunch with Lou and Lynda and Jason (Free refils! Next year I am there early!)
Jerry and his pal and Brian talked Herbies, then Brian smiled ear to ear when he got to trigger KITT for a while, until Alex’s internal sensors picked up that Jennifer and Brian were playing with the remotes too much, and an Automated text was sent to get them in line!

BULLIT owner Dave Kunz parked with us for a spell, but he’s got too many car shows to cover as a reporter, so he popped in and it was great hearing his stories and then he was off to the next event!
As long as we get these parking spots, I think there will be some cool star cars at Crusin for a cure 2010 and beyond!

21
Sep
09

South Pasadena Police Expo where the Blue Brothers and Mayberry Join Batman!

Thanks to Officer Richard Lee of the So. Pasadena Police, the StarCarCentral.com gang showed up in force for the South Pasadena police and fire open house and car show Sunday Sept 20th!
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It’s a different line up at evert star car show, and this one was no different! As Officer Lee has shown us great hospitality in years past, the guys were eager to shine up their famous movie and TV cars to sponsor this event.
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No it’s not a decepticon transformer (that got sold to some collector in Texas) just the new cool police cars that opened the event!
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PULL OVER!! Not quite as intimidating, but I want one of these for the back lot! They look like a lot of fun, and a step in the right direction for those personal hovercrafts I was promised in Popular Science like they had on Johnny Quest!
But I digress….
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From left to right, here’s who was there! These two just have to be parked together! Lou and Lynda with her lemon squares (and the stripped tomato, from Starsky and Hutch!) were first in line, and next we were so happy to have Dave with his General show up with his family and support the police and fire dept. His car was cleaner than I ever saw the dukes car on TV!
Charger Steve and Dave got to swap General Lee trivia…. I mean important details on their cars!
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Sue brought her Get Smart Sunbeam. Her “Max” didn’t seem to mind the sun, and posed for photos all day in a three piece suit!
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Brian brought his Bond car complete with a new poster featuring his car! He got to talk obscure star car with a few of our fans, including one who is working on the CHiP’s Gold Firebird (Paunch’s car) and he may find a Simon and Simon Power Wagon….
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Jerry’s Herbie is always well loved and photographed, and this was no exception. He had some sort of double cheeseburger creation that looked amazing for lunch, thanks again to the SPPD for feeding all of us so well!
Jerry had a special visitor, the star of Herbie goes to Monte Carlo Joaquin Garay III showed up and posed for a photo!
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Next was Paul’s Back to the Future Delorian, and thanks to the electrical hook up, the center section of our display of famous movie and TV cars came alive! Paul put on a great show with lights, sounds and smoke, but this time he had competition!
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Oscar plugged in his cd player, and had the theme to Magnum P.I. coming from under his Ferrari!
Next to him Alex and his pristine Knight Rider KITT was chatting with the crowd. “Where are your pants?” is still fun to hear KITT say randomly to someone!  Alex decided to take the day off from working on Knight Rider stuff and spend the day with us!   
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Continuing the crime fighter line up, the batmobile quietly refrained from showing off, and let Batman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Robin do all the showboating for the happy photographers and fans!
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Only at StarCarCentral.com events can you get this photograph! Nate Truman having a chat with batgirl, wonderwoman, Jason “Buckaroo” Red ranger, with a few unusual cars in the foreground!
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A special treat just for the police theme was Brandy’s Mayberry RFD patrol car, and it was great to spend some time with Charger Steve! It’s been a while, as he heads up the San Diego Chapter of Star Car Central, heck, he practically IS the whole chapter with all his cars!
The excitement is growing for his Del Mar show in just a few weeks!
Click the link to sign up your car, spaces are limited, and Charger Steve always puts on a great party!
Finishing off our line up in the prime spot infront of the police HQ was Vic and Dana, and their great Blues Brother’s police car!
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(Cool) Hats off to them, for staying in the sun with black Suits and ties on all day, working the crowd! Note to self: Once you give Dana a Microphone, don’t expect to get it back any time soon! He’s a crack up, and he’s got a million one liners! Not sure how they did on tips, but I know they got fed well!
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Jason stopped by with his Herbie to take some photos and head out, and in his travels he found this “sort of” A-Team van, hey at this point, I will consider it…..
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Of course Jason always on the lookout for a photo op, convinced all the super heroes to mosey over to HIS car for a quick shot!
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Thanks to Scott and Vicky and their two “wards” batgirl and Robin for taking their day to amaze little kids and pose for lots of photos in the hot sun! I don’t know how they do it! Also special award for being a trooper to Batgirl, who “played injured” with a hurt toe!
(I am not sure if I am allowed to expose their secret identities….)

So starts the busy season for StarCarCentral.com! Next week the biggest one day car show on the west coast, Crusin for a Cure at the orange county fair grounds, so stop by and say “HI!” we will be under shade between two of the front buildings! Charger Steve is bringing his BTTF Delorian (first movie style) to debut at the cruise this coming Saturday, Sept 26th 2009 but all of our other delorian pals will be gull winging their way to Vegas for a big Back to the Future convention!
Our own Paul Nigh will be showing his personal original props from the movie!

02
May
08

Star Car inagural event at the Magic Castle

Well just a Back to the Future car and a Batmobile wasn’t enough. I wanted MORE star cars!

The first 4 car gathering happened next.   Thanks to my magician friend Brian Ochab, the first official event for the Star Car Association or SCA was put together at the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.   The magic castle is an invitation only club for magicians and if you can find someone to invite you, it’s an amazing place, the food is great, and the magic is everywhere!

Through various connections we added two more cars for a television piece on star cars and their owners, for LVTV and it aired nationally.  New to the group was Anthony’s  “Striped Tomato” Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch, and Dave Stizenger’s  General Lee Charger.

After we all arrived we swapped stories on why and how we put our various star cars together, while getting interviewed for the television show and taking lots of photos.   We had a great time doing donuts in the parking lot, shooting off my afterburner and doing burnouts.  Really we were 4 big kids playing with our toy cars in an empty parking lot!  That “price of their toys” bumper sticker came to mind as we all had big dumb grins on our faces, and climbed into each others cars.

After all the shooting was done, we decided to go get something to eat together, so out drives the Starsky Torino, the General Lee, the Back to the Future Delorian and the batmobile in a row, driving down Hollywood blvd!  We turned a few heads, some other observers thought it was for some kind of promotion.

At that time a “first” happened for me.  Now when you drive a batmobile replica down the street, you get used to a few things pretty quickly.  People honk and scream out their windows, sing the bat theme to me “da  da da da da da batman!” ask where is Alfred or Robin.  They will slam on their brakes, ask questions while not watching the road, and take photos with cell phones.  That’s when you are NOT in Hollywood.  So the 4 of us were weaving through rush hour traffic to find a place to eat, and we all had to make a left turn.  It was a situation where even though lights would change, there wasn’t a place to go on the other side of the intersection.  So Starsky and the general lee turn, and even though the light was changing, I stuck to the Delorian’s bumper so we could stay together.  Then it happened!  Some guy who couldn’t have cared less I was driving the Batmobile honked at me for GETTING IN HIS WAY as I finished turning!  LOL!  Since then I have been honked at for being in someones way only one other time…. guess where? Same area, turning into Hollywood and Highland, where they do the Oscars for another interview with the Batmobile for TV guide Channel.  (Look for it to air when the 2008 batman the dark knight movie comes out this summer.)  It was a great day for me, as my idea of a Star Car Association finally was happening!   The photo on the top was taken that day, and for some reason wordpress doesn’t want to let me add a photo today!




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