Goliad High Schoolers fix up original General Lee car
June 4, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.
GOLIAD - A cultural icon all but sputtered right into the talented, grease-stained hands of the Goliad High School Agriculture Engineering and Mechanics department.
One October day, an orange 1969 Dodge Charger - complete with No. 1 decals and a Confederate flag on the roof - broke down in front of the high school.
It was a General Lee car, one of the 300 or so originals used in the original "Dukes of Hazzard" television series. And giving the damaged ride a mechanical overhaul would become one of the ag-mechanics department's yearlong projects.
"The fun was just from all the bragging rights," was 17-year-old Derik Satsky's favorite part about the restoration.
The car has indeed left a tread mark in the community. Trey Psencik, the ag-mechanics teacher, said it's almost an everyday occurrence to have people peeking in the garage and asking to pose in photos with the bright orange beast.
"It's made such a big stir, people even use it for their birthday invitations," Psencik said, displaying the invite.
The General Lee may have looked just as cool as it did when Bo and Luke were jumping through its doors in Hazzard County, but when the kids in Goliad County first got a hold of it, some major work was needed under the hood.
Psencik said the car's owner, Goliad resident Billy Kirk, found the car after it had been wrecked in one of the stunt jumps on the show. Psencik's crew built a racing engine for it, installed gauges and scoured for outdated parts, all while keeping the car as original as possible.
"The key was to not only do the job, but to make it a worthwhile lesson," Psencik said.
Restoring the General Lee car was just a part of the the to-do list for the ag-mechanics department. The students are also introduced to welding, carpentry and electrical wiring, and they have worked on restoring tractors, building trailers and, most recently, a custom chopper.
The projects require more than just the bragging rights that goes with tinkering with a famous car. There are binders - 300 pages worth - that document the work, serial numbers, history of the machines, safety procedures and expenditures.
"The students truly have a desire to show off the hard work they put into these and win (at competitions)," Psencik said. "I get a lot of good kids who really want to do this."
The hard work and late nights paid off at the first sound of the General's engine rumbling.
"There was a lot of anticipation," Psencik said. "Once it started up ... everybody went nuts, screaming and clapping."
Psencik had just roared up the engine again and pulled the General Lee car out of the garage.
It wasn't long before a black and white pulled up behind the car, providing a quick flashback to one of the famous "Dukes of Hazzard" chase scenes.
Instead of flashing its lights and bellowing over the loudspeaker, the state trooper got out and approached the Charger.
He wanted a picture with the General Lee car.
"That's just an everyday deal," Psencik said.