Knight Rider, the American television series that starred David Hasselhoff had a five year run. While the show was on the air, we got to know the high-tech modern crime-fighting car K.I.T.T., an advanced, artificially intelligent, self-aware, nearly indestructible car. K.I.T.T. is an acronym for Knight Industries Two Thousand and was the star of the show. The car was a black two-door 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am. It took $100k in the 80s (roughly $265k in 2018) to customize the talking car. I grew up wanting to own K.I.T.T. and have spent a significant amount of my adult life collecting Knight Rider and K.I.T.T. memorabilia.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned while feeding my obsession researching the talking car.
You can drive (a) K.I.T.T
If you’d like to relive the glory days from the 80s like Michael Knight (Hasselhoff’s character), you can grab a leather coat and head over to Los Angeles. Here you can rent the seemingly perfect K.I.T.T from Turo, the peer-to-peer car rental service. Be warned though, this is not the original 1982 talking car, but rather a 1989 replica. It looks just like the real deal though; it even has the front red light, zoomy dashboard and a functioning talking voice box. The car features an automatic transmission for customers who can’t drive a stick shift. The daily rental rate is $175. (Maxim.com 2018)
The super fan
There’s a guy in Ohio named Chris who has constructed his own K.I.T.T. as it appeared during the Knight Rider first season (1982). Chris got his hands on a 1982 hardtop Trans Am that was equipped with a V-8 engine. He ended up replacing the roof with a 1987 model, since the original roof was rusty, but made every effort to restore the rest of the car staying true to the original including Goodyear Eagle GT tires. It took Chris and his helpers several months to construct the dash. According to this super fan, the many hours put into the reconstruction were well worth it since the engine speed, road speed, oil pressure, and fuel-level readouts all display what’s actually going on with the car. This fan-created replica is capable of repeating about 20 phrases from the show. (Cardrive.com 2018)
The collector’s original
One of the four cars used in the series was up for sale in 2007 for $150,000. The car had been restored to its former glory, including two working video screens on the dashboard, buttons that read “ski mode,” “micro jam,” “oil slick” and “eject” and most importantly, the fully functional, flashing red light on the hood of the car.” Also important to note is the fact that the car is not street legal in the U.S. since it doesn’t meet emissions standards.
20 produced, 5 left
There were 20 K.I.T.T’s produced and only a quarter of them survived. By movie standards that’s pretty good. During the show’s debut year, only four cars were made available to the network for filming since it was the hottest new sports car and everyone wanted to own one. The show got lucky in 1983 when a car transporter derailed in California, and although the cars were fine, GM sold 12 Firebirds off that train to the studio for $1 each, with the condition that they had to be destroyed once the cameras stopped rolling. Universal honored that request by dropping a wrecking ball on them, but not before buying another six cars. The second-to-last KITT ever built lives today in the studio’s theme park, so everyone ca admire it.
The DeLorean & General Lee
Michael Scheffe, K.I.T.T’s designer also designed the DeLorean from Back to the Future. Pretty cool, huh? Not so cool was the bashing of General Lee, or was it all done in good fun? Decided for yourself:
Are you a K.I.T.T. fan(atic)? Share your favorite Knight Rider knowledge below.