Monday, November 13, 2006

Lee 1: The unveiling!

Yowza ... we're finally comin' up for air; it's been a long weekend, to say the least. And the highlight, of course, was the unveiling of the newly restored first-ever General Lee car of the TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard," a car affectionately termed Lee 1.

It was enough to make you cry, seeing Lee 1 pull up in the historic square of Covington, Georgia, this past Saturday, with John Schneider -- the only "Dukes" star to ever drive the car -- behind the wheel. But when Schneider came outta that car (through the window!) wearing his trademark Bo Duke beige-yellowish shirt ... holy cow, I think I did start to cry! With his hair grown out a bit -- sooooooo Bo-esque -- Schneider climbed out and immediately started meeting and greeting and signing for the massive throng that was crowded around the gated-off and police-guarded alcove of the car, there across the street from Covington's famous courthouse. And he didn't stop. For hours. He kept signing and signing, determined to make the day of every fan who was there. He did make our day, for sure. Many fans drove a long way to see the historic Lee 1 unveiling and Schneider (BRBTV's buddy Paul Harrington of the Canadian Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club and his crew -- son Lance and buds Mike and Jason -- drove all night from those northern regions, then turned right back around and drove back to get to work on Monday!). Schneider, gracious as always, coupled Friday and Saturday showings of his independent film "Collier and Co." with the Lee 1 unveiling.

But the event was, of course, all about the car (just like "The Dukes" was, don't we know!). This was the very first General Lee, the car that made the very first jump for the show, and though its life was short (the pilot episode, then an appearance as the wrecked Petty car a couple episodes later in "Repo Men"), it has been given new life now. The owner of Lee 1, who acquired the vehicle a couple years back, went to great expense to restore the car to the condition it was when it left the ramp at Oxford College on November 11, 1978, 28 years to the day before this Saturday's grand unveiling. And indeed, the car looked beyond beautiful, with as many parts still original as possible, its familiar orange-red exterior shimmering in the sparse sun of the afternoon (Schneider told fans that it was raining on that day of the 1978 jump, too!). For instance, the motor is the same, steering wheel, dash, even some of the grease and grime are still there from its 1978 high-point. A sticker from a California college is still on its windshield, a remnant from Warner Bros' purchase of the vehicle in 1978. It was truly a lovely sight to behold.

The car is now going to embark on a tour of the country for a couple years, leading up to its official 30th anniversary as the very first General Lee. The car's owner insists that he's not really the owner, that this blazin' orange beauty is really owned by the fans. "You just don't own an American icon," he told BRBTV.

Team Lee 1, as the restoration crew has been dubbed, put on a rockin'-great event for fans this past Saturday. And it's just always a fabbo time in the birthplace of "The Dukes," isn't it? Special thanks, also, to the brand-new Covington Dukes Fan Club (look for more on them later this week in the BRBTV News Blog), the Fullerton family (who are always a delight to chat with), and Dianne and Harold and the rest of the A Touch of Country shop crew for doing that great thing they always do.

To see some photos of the Lee 1 unveiling, check out the message boards at the Confederate General Lee Fan Club and the North American General Lee Fan Club.


Jim Shine said...

It was a pleasure meeting you before the event. I also thank you for the book. It was a great read on my long flight home. I hope to meet you again someday. said...

Glad to hear you made it home safely, Jim. What a fun event this was! Congrats (and thanks) to the whole Team Lee 1, for all their hard work in unveiling such a beautiful car. Whatever the differences of opinion are/were on the restoration of the car, when it pulled into the square with Bo behind the wheel ... sigh ...