The Rearview Mirror: The 1969 Dodge Charger Jumps into History

It is 1978, and a stuntman launches a 1969 Dodge Charger up a ramp and above a law enforcement automobile for a scene in a community Television set exhibit. Not incredibly, the vehicle is totaled. But the 82-foot-prolonged, 16-foot-significant soar will make for a memorable instant in television background. The auto is the Standard Lee, maybe 1 of television’s most famous vehicles, and the display is “The Dukes of Hazzard.” 

The CBS-network television sequence would operate from 1979 by 1985, and function about 329 Basic Lees, a car or truck as famed as the show’s Daisy Dukes, the identify of the shorter, restricted slash-off jeans worn by Catherine Bach in her role as Daisy Duke.

The Dodge Charger debuted in 1966.

Dodge makes an icon

The Dodge Charger debuted in 1966 as a sportier, two-door model of the midsize Dodge Coronet. The hardtop coupe showcased a fastback roofline, concealed headlamps and an interior sporting buckets seats and a heart console.

Dodge’s extended-lived 230-horsepower 5.2-liter V-8 was standard, but prospective buyers could decide for a 265-hp 5.9-liter V-8, 325-hp 6.3-liter V-8 with dual exhausts, or a 425-hp 7.-liter Hemi V-8 with dual 4-barrel carburetors and twin exhausts. All engines arrived with a three-velocity handbook transmission. A 4-speed manual or 3-velocity TorqueFlite automatic were being optional. 

The Charger did not improve yet again till 1968, when it was redesigned along with Coronet as its sportier sibling. Now boasting rounded sheetmetal under the car’s beltline, the new “fuselage” styling would be utilized on all Chrysler Company versions perfectly into the 1970s. For the Charger, it lent the vehicle a easier search, just one that labored nicely with its coke bottle beltline. It taken care of its trademark hidden headlamps, but now boasted a flying buttress roofline, replacing, however recalling, the preceding model’s ungainly fastback. 

Product sales enhanced dramatically, achieving 96,100 units, significantly more than 1967’s whole of 15,788. Motor choices remained the same, besides for the addition of a 375-hp 7.2-liter Magnum V-8. Electricity steering, ability brakes, electric power door locks, large responsibility differential, cruise management, air conditioning, tilt/telescope steering wheel, dual exhaust, an AM radio, tachometer, and a vinyl roof were among the possibilities.

The Television set show debuted in 1979.

The only sizeable alteration to the Charger for 1969 was the inclusion of the Charger Daytona, a automobile designed to steal the NASCAR championship from Ford. It wore a two-foot very long extended nose cone, a 3-foot substantial rear wing and curved back glass. The other alter was the alternative of a 145-hp 3.7-liter Slant 6, whilst only 500 ended up sold. 

But it was the show’s star change on the Dukes of Hazzard that produced it a cultural star.

It ain’t significant art

The show’s premise is properly-acknowledged. Cousins Bo and Luke Duke (performed by actors John Schneider and Tom Wopat respectively) are consistently in trouble with the officials of fictional Hazzard County, Ga, led by the crooked Manager Jefferson Davis Hogg and his sidekick Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The Duke boys have their share of assistance from their Cousin Daisy and Uncle Jesse. 

Some Chargers survived, in spite of the problems. Photo Credit history: RM Sothebys.

But it’s the car chases, a staple of ’70s moviemaking, that demonstrate a crucial element of the show, and the star was the General Lee, an orange 1969 Dodge Charger with a Confederate flag on the roof, a horn that played “I Want I Was in Dixie” and the numbers 01 on the doorways. Inside, a Citizens Band Radio preserve the boys in touch with Uncle Jesse.

The series was developed by Gy Waldron, who experienced penned and directed a schlock motion movie named “Moonrunners” in 1975. In it, Grady and Bobby Lee run moonshine for their Uncle Jesse. Like the later Tv set demonstrate, place singer Waylon Jennings is the balladeer. Audio familiar?

The car or truck anyone remembers

During the series’ 7-year life, 1969 Chargers had been ten years-aged employed automobiles, not collectibles, and currently being that Dodge constructed 89,700 of them, they were being uncomplicated to locate, at minimum at first. Each and every car was equipped with a roll cage, major-obligation shock absorbers and springs and modified brakes to quickly permit a 180-diploma “Bootleggers’ Flip.”

Nonetheless as producers ruined their share of Dodge Chargers owing to stunt operate, they developed a lack of 1969 Dodge Chargers in the final several years of the collection. So, in a in shape of desperation, producers started wanting for 1969 Dodge Chargers in parking a lot, inquiring house owners if they wished to sell them. It didn’t do the job. 

So producers switched to using orange AMC Ambassadors or taking pictures miniatures.

Yet, the Normal Lee proved well-liked. Through the shows original operate, the automobile gained close to 35,000 supporter letters monthly, really a fanbase for an inanimate object.

Why the car or truck was well-known

This Dodge Charger survived the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard film. Picture Credit rating: RM Sothebys

The Charger survived into the 1970s, turning out to be a own luxurious coupe as its functionality and popularity waned, a pattern that started with a disastrous 1971 redesign. It was replaced by the Magnum for 1979, the yr that “The Dukes of Hazzard” debuted. By then, large insurance policies prices and federal government polices had relegated the muscle cars of the 1960s to heritage. The American landscape was altering.

Proof came in 1981, when the Dodge Charger ignominiously reappeared as a subcompact a few-doorway hatchback run by a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder motor producing a mere 84 hp. Its name was retired in 1987, re-rising in 2005 on a rear-wheel-push sedan, the identical yr it grew to become a motion picture starring Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson and Lynda Carter.

For Charger enthusiasts, the Standard Lee upheld conventional values in a reworking American landscape, a charming cultural relic of the 1980s. For some others, the display was racist because of to its use of the Confederate symbols, be it the Accomplice flag, the “Dixie” automobile horn, or names like General Lee and Jefferson Davis. The controversy was sparked by a white supremacist, who murdered nine worshippers at a historic African American church in South Carolina in 2015 whilst donning a Confederate flag. The massacre sparked an outcry as Confederate symbols became a cultural anathema. As a consequence, the show’s reruns on cable community Television Land ended up cancelled. 

But the present even now has followers, which includes Schneider, whose duplicate of the Basic Lee was intensely destroyed by Hurricane Ida earlier this year.

“That auto is me,” he explained to The Everyday Mail