Spotlighting another amazing friend!! My friend Tom and his General Lee! Starting off with this amazing interview, can you tell fans when and how you were first introduced to the General?
Tom: From the TV show. When the show started, I was 12yrs old. I always liked cars as a boy and when I saw one that could “fly” I became instantly hooked!
Screamers: So you’ve watched the Dukes of Hazzard from the very beginning? Did you have any of the toys as a kid or collectibles? I know you do now right?
Tom: I don’t think I ever had or even knew that there were toys back when I was a kid. I have more than made up for that now, with all the items in my collection.
Screamers: How many different items do you have, and can you tell us a bit about your collection? Is there a favorite, aside from the car?
Tom: The collection has amassed over a few decades now. It’s not a giant collection. If I had to give a total number of different items in the collection I’d feel safe saying about 80-100.
My favorite item for the longest time was an actual piece of the original Dukes farmhouse wall, from the first 5 episodes of the show, when it was filmed in Ga. The owner of the property said it was to be taken down for safety reasons. To cover the cost of having it razed, the owner sold pieces of the house with official certificates of sale. I then had it signed by all the surviving cast. It’s a prized possession for sure, but it now ranks second as I’ve recently acquired a fully functional Dukes of Hazzard child’s pedal car!
Screamers: So you actually own a piece of the set? How cool is that?! The pedal car sounds amazing, is it rare? When did you decide to build or buy the General Lee?
Tom: I do, I do! I actually have 2 pieces of the Dukes original farm house! The first is a piece of the wall and the second is a piece of the original tin roof.
The pedal has been something that I never thought I’d own. It’s not only rare but when you do find it its expensive. I just so happened to get lucky 01 day on Craigslist and scored it CHEAP! I’m going to restore it this winter & display with my General Lee!
Screamers: Nice!! You really lucked out then?! Any interesting moments you can share, involving the original cast members or your car?
Tom: I didn’t buy this car “done” already. I owned it for 10 years before I even decided to make it a General Lee. What made me do it as a General Lee? Well many things made that happen 01–> my son was born and my buddy sent me a link for decals for a General Lee. I bid & I won and I decided to make the Car a General Lee.
The guy that did the body and paint work tells me he doesn’t wanna put decals on the car he’d rather paint it all. I was shocked and asked how much more that would cost me. He said nothing so I said lets do it! So all my numbers and flag are all paint!!
Screamers: Is there still an original General Lee left from the show.. I’m guessing you’d know.
Tom: When the show ended there were 19 cars left at Warner Bros. studio in California.
A gentleman named Wayne Wooten who ran The Dodge Charger National Registry (TDC) was in contact with Warner Bros. for a long time. They finally asked him if he was interested in coming out to see where they filmed the California episodes at Warner Bros. Studios.
He let them know that living in Virginia and raising a family but it was just too expensive to do so. After a while they came to some agreement or wing was able to take the trip to California and see the studios.
Unbeknownst to him they took him to a back lot and they are set 19 General Lee’s in addition to several boss Hogg Cadillacs, Hazzard county patrol cars, and even a few of Cooters tow trucks.
I’m not 100% sure on exactly what took place. I went down while they were there. But at the end of the day, it was indicated to Wayne, that the 17 cars still remaining from the TV series were his. If he could pay a unknown amount for each one. It wasn’t much that much I can tell you!
Wayne at that point had a lottery with the members of the Dodge charger national registry, those who could work up the cash, then received one of the 17 numbers of those remaining cars and the lottery then ensued. Basically a name was pulled out for car number one and whoever that person was that was #1 got that car after they paid the fee of course and again I don’t know what that was.
Some of the cars ran some of the cars didn’t run some of the cars were complete some of the cars were incomplete but all of the cars were used on the series. There is also some sort of agreement where the people got the cars were not allowed to go in profit by using them for promotional issues etc.
Those cars are now in the hands of private owners. I’ve seen many of them at different events and venues. Some of the owners along the way every store these cars, some of the owners have left them just the way they are to preserve the history. As we all know once you restore one of these cars or any car for that matter it’s never original again.
Off the record Rosemary I’m actually in Virginia right now at what they’re calling Cooters last stand. Apparently there may be more than one original here this weekend from the 17. I’ll be sure to get some photos.
Two Autos From Cooter’s Place!
Screamers: I knew that’d be a great story. That Dukes of Hazzard weekend, is this weekend then? My mom really wanted to go. But I couldn’t get the time off.. Take lots of pictures and send me some of your own car once you get a chance. I picture Tony and I showing up at that event in the Van.. That would have been a trip.
Tom: He would have been a HIT with that can here. Every hear people bring other tv & movie rides to this. It does not even officially start until Saturday and I’ve already seen many Generals driving around and a a Starsky & Hutch car!
They jumped a general lee two days in a row.
Screamers: Nice!! Does that tear up the car though?
Tom: Cool thing is even though that looks like a real 1969 Dodge charger it’s not it’s completely re-bodied with CHARGER pieces, fenders door hood roof and so on but it’s all on top of a Ford Crown Victoria car. On top of that there’s a take off ramp and a landing-ramp so they were able to use the same car both times & it’s STILL runs and drives!
Photos Taken During Cooter’s Last Stand!
Tom: Here’s my daughter Amelia with the real Daisy and Cletus last weekend if you wanted to use this also!
I can’t thank Tom enough for this amazing interview, and all of these wonderful photos! -Screamers
See you at Retro Con 2017 Tom, along with the General!