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This is the first cast photo that was taken in 1978. LEE 3 is pictured here.
The first three cars built were all 1969 model Chargers. LEE 1 was a H-code 383ci 4bbl automatic car. LEE 2 was also a big block car and is believed to be a 383 car. LEE 3 was a 440ci 4bbl automatic R/T Charger. LEE 3 was used in all of the promotional press photos. LEE 1 & 2 both had full roll cages and no rear seat while LEE 3 had the 3-point roll bar and still had the rear seat.
It was always assumed that Larry West (of Georgia) hand-painted all of the graphics on the Georgia General Lees. Actually, with the first three cars being build in California they were more than likely built and painted by the WB transportation department. Once 2 of the 3 cars were jumped and out of commission, and more General Lees were built, Larry West did the graphics on those cars.
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Throughout the entire series run, there were many different crews that build the cars. Each crew had their own specific way to build the cars. Not only did they build the cars their own way, they also labeled the cars however it worked best for them. The Georgia crew would have been the earliest. After returning to California from Georgia, the Veluzats were contracted to build the cars. They built the cars for the first few seasons and then the contract was given to Ken Fritz and his crew at Studio Picture Vehicles. Finally, Warner Brothers decided to build the cars in house with their own crew.
LABELING THE CARS:
GEORGIA ERA: The first cars that were used in Georgia were labeled as "LEE 1", "LEE 2", "LEE 3", etc.
VELUZAT ERA (EARLY CALIFORNIA): When the Veluzats received the cars from Georgia, they continued to label them as "LEE_".
FRITZ ERA: When Fritz took over the job of building and keeping up the cars at Studio Picture Vehicles, he labeled them as "SGL1", "SGL2", "SGL3", etc. ("SGL" meaning "Studio General Lee").
WARNER BROTHERS ERA (LATE CALIFORNIA): Warner Brothers finally took over the task of building and maintaining the cars in-house with their own crew. When taking of the surplus of cars, they renamed them as "WGL 1", "WGL 2", "WGL 3", etc. ("WGL" meaning "Warner General Lee").
As you can imagine, a surviving General Lee would have a WGL number and some of the earlier cars would also have a SGL number as well. The previous label would not have an affect on the following label. For example... a car that may have been labeled "SGL20" could survived production and been transferred over to WB, and then relabeled as "WGL 7". The cars were simply loaded up, unloaded, lined up in no particular order and then labeled.
In 1978, the decision was made to film at least five episodes of a new television series to serve as a mid-season replacement for "The Incredible Hulk" TV series. At the time the first draft scripts were written, the producers had not decided on what make or model car the "General Lee" was going to be. It was written in as possibly being a gray Camaro. Thankfully, it wasn't. Three 1969 Dodge Chargers were built in California while auditions were going on for who would play the roles for the new show. Initially, the General Lee was painted Orange with a Confederate Flag centered on the roof and "GENERAL LEE" text on each side of the roof as well.
The clock was ticking and it wasn't long before they started filming. The cast members along with one General Lee and one police car were sent to Griffith Park in Burbank, CA for a promo publicity photoshoot. At the time, the General Lee did not "01's" on the doors and it was not known that the doors were "welded shut" in the storyline. You will see this in many early publicity photos.