The Motorious beta is now available to all users.  Learn more about what this means.

The Dukes Of Hazzard First Aired 40 Years Ago Tonight

By Calum Brown Jan 26, 2019
news
Shop Muscle
By Calum Brown Jan 26, 2019
At 9pm on January 26, 1979, CBS broadcast the very first episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. We take a look back at why we loved it, and why you won't see it again on TV anytime soon

Forty years ago tonight, one of culture’s most significant broadcasts premiered to lacklustre reviews and slack Nielsen ratings. Airing at 9pm on January 26, 1979, the series had been fast-tracked as a nine-episode mid-season filler for Warner Brothers. Originally destined for TV obscurity, the show instead set solid foundations for significant fan following – and taught drivers how to enter their car without using doors.

We are, of course, talking about The Dukes of Hazzard. Spawning no-less than seven seasons, two TV reunion movies, an 18-episode spin-off, two 30-minute Saturday morning cartoon series and four video games, the Duke Boys – Bo (John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat) – provided hell-bent lessons on the importance of family and standing up for what’s right. With help from a certain 1969 Dodge Charger.

With the assistance of cousin Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach) and Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle), the Duke family waged constant war upon the corrupt Boss Hog (Sorrell Booke) and his bumbling brother-in-law, Sheriff Rosco P.Coltrane (James Best) – often saving the entire fictional Hazzard state from shady dealings and dishonest land deals.

However, the show quickly developed a cult following far beyond its well-natured moral teachings. Beside Daisy Duke’s million-dollar legs and an overwhelming dollop of Americana, viewers were attracted to each 50 minute tale by one thing: the cars.

Right from the start, with Waylon Jennings' warm rendition of Good ol’ Boys over a montage of tire-burning automotive mayhem, gearheads knew they were in for a cosy hour of light-hearted storytelling and serious driving stunts.

Nicknamed the ‘General Lee’, Bo and Luke’s 1969 Dodge Charger became a global icon overnight. Boasting smart orange paintwork mated to a Confederate battle flag painted upon the roof and large ‘01’ on each door, the General was built as a race car, with doors welded shut – explaining that unusual method each character used to enter and exit the Charger’s cabin.

View in gallery
View 7+
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View
["Dukes of Hazzard"]
View 7+

As remains well known, with each of the show’s 147 episodes featuring at least one chassis-bending feat, the production team killed a huge number of Chargers. Some estimate that more than 300 vehicles starred as the General Lee over the Duke’s six-year production run. That’s two cars per episode, with no-less than 150 jumps – many of which became world records.

Scripts called for the destruction of Chargers at an alarming rate, resulting in scrambled attempts to source willing vehicular victims. Producers would deal owners of ’69 model year Chargers purchase offers on the spot – often well above market price, as the model was becoming scarce; thanks largely to the stunt team.

As such, some earlier models were adapted to appear newer. As ‘68 and ‘69 vehicles shared the same design, the show’s vast production team pop-riveted the ‘I’ center piece into the grille, cut out the tail lights and removed the round side marker lights. Contrary to belief, no 1970 Dodge Chargers were used, as backdating the exterior proved too time consuming for the strict schedule.

Sadly, due to political complaints around the General Lee’s Confederate flag, The Dukes of Hazzard has been pulled by Warner Brothers from future reruns and syndication. However, with lashings of DVD boxsets and various digital downloads to be had, if you fancy reliving the car action on the 40th anniversary, you'll be spoilt for choice.

One critic famously stated after watching the first episode that ‘this show won’t last past the first commercial break.’ Well, the last four decades of evidence proves otherwise. Yee-haw!


Related articles

1965 Chevrolet Corvette Pro-Street Will Blow You Away!

This ‘Vette might look cool, but it will make your track experience flaming hot. There’s no denying the appeal of ...
By Steven Symes Apr 19, 2019

Rare True Hillbank Built 2015 Mustang Has Only 58K Miles

You're not likely to come across another one of these for sale anytime soon! Hillbank Motorsports, an aftermarket an...
By Elizabeth Puckett Apr 19, 2019

World’s First Mustang Museum Ready To Break World Record Tonight

The Mustang Owners Museum kicks off its opening party with a world record attempt at the Charlotte Motor Speedway fo...
By Max Holder Apr 18, 2019

Restored 1976 International Scout II Impresses On and Off-Road

This old school SUV could be your next ride! Originally a very clean and low mileage vehicle, this 1976 Internation...
By Elizabeth Puckett Apr 18, 2019
Show Me More

URL copied to clipboard