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updated: 7/5/2015 10:25 PM

Volo museum offers to buy 1st General Lee, save flag

Golfer Bubba Watson says he'll paint over Confederate flag

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  • Golfer Bubba Watson says he wants to paint over the Confederate flag on the first General Lee, which he owns.

    Golfer Bubba Watson says he wants to paint over the Confederate flag on the first General Lee, which he owns.
    AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher, 2012

  • Actor John Schnieder, star of the 1980s television show "The Dukes of Hazzard," waves from the General Lee before the Kobalt Tools 500 auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Golfer Bubba Watson says he's painting over the Confederate flag on the car he bought from "The Dukes of Hazzard" television series. Watson said he'll replace it with the U.S. flag on the roof of the "General Lee 01."

    Actor John Schnieder, star of the 1980s television show "The Dukes of Hazzard," waves from the General Lee before the Kobalt Tools 500 auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Golfer Bubba Watson says he's painting over the Confederate flag on the car he bought from "The Dukes of Hazzard" television series. Watson said he'll replace it with the U.S. flag on the roof of the "General Lee 01."
    AP Photo/Dale Davis, 2008

  • The Volo Auto Museum in Volo already owns the eighth General Lee car used in the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard," but now it has made an offer for the original, now owned by golfer Bubba Watson.

      The Volo Auto Museum in Volo already owns the eighth General Lee car used in the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard," but now it has made an offer for the original, now owned by golfer Bubba Watson.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Volo Auto Museum owner and director Brian Grams already owns the eighth General Lee used in the TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard," but now it has made an offer to buy the original now owned by pro golfer Bubba Watson.

      Volo Auto Museum owner and director Brian Grams already owns the eighth General Lee used in the TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard," but now it has made an offer to buy the original now owned by pro golfer Bubba Watson.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Though the Volo Auto Museum already owns one General Lee car from the television series "The Dukes of Hazzard," museum director Brian Grams is making a bid to preserve the historical significance of the very first version seen in the show's opening titles.

That car is owned by professional golfer Bubba Watson, who recently announced his plans to paint over the car's Confederate flag with an American flag because of the recent controversy over what some have said is the Confederate flag's racist overtones.

As he said about the General Lee he already owns, Grams emphasizes that his desire is not to make any political statement about the Confederate flag but simply to preserve a piece of TV history.

Grams reached out and to Watson via social media Friday morning and is continuing to try to make contact with him through any available means.

"I've been working hot and heavy all day," Grams said. "I think it would be a way out for him (Watson). He's up against a double-edged sword."

Though Watson's General Lee has the distinction of being the original -- famously making a giant jump at the start of every episode -- the amount of restoration work it's undergone makes the Volo museum's General Lee No. 8 worth about twice as much, Grams said.

While No. 8 was built with a significant amount of parts recycled from the original, not much of the original is original, ironically.

While Watson bought his car at auction for $110,000 in 2012, Grams ballparked the value of the museum's at about $250,000.

While the original car was largely used for the one major stunt that was preserved in the opening titles, No. 8 was used at the end of the show's first season in the late 1970s.

Demonstrating how much abuse the stunts in the show caused the cars, a total of 249 General Lees were used over seven seasons, Grams said. And of these, only 11 survive.

To compare that to another iconic TV car, only two Batmobiles were ever made for the late 1960s "Batman" show and the backup was seldom used, he said.

If the Volo museum is able to acquire Watson's car, both General Lees would likely be displayed together with an explanation of their distinctions, Grams said.

There is a precedent at the museum, with two different versions of the car KITT from the original "Knight Rider" series on display.

And years ago, there was once four different versions of Herbie from "The Love Bug" movie on display at the same time with an explanation of how they all were used differently.

The original General Lee owned by Watson was found in Georgia in 2001 by an Indiana man named Travis Bell, who spent years restoring it with others.

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