Knight Rider was the epitome of 80s television action dramas, but the Knight Rider car was the best part. Here’s some facts on KITT.
It’s the 80s. School just got out and you run home with your friends to see David Hasselhoff fight crime with a feathered hairdo and way too much exposed chest hair. Sounds odd today, but Knight Rider was a huge hit in its day. Through 5 years, 4 seasons, 85 episodes, and one made-for-TV movie, Hasselhoff played Michael Knight who was, as the narrator put it, “a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the powerless, the helpless in a world of criminals who operate above the law.” Basically, he was a guy that got his face reconstructed after an accident and turned into a crime fighter with the help of Knight Industries.
But The Hoff wasn’t the best part of Knight Rider, instead it was the talking car that stole the show. The Knight Industries Two Thousand, or simply KITT, was every kids’ dream car. A blacked-out early 80s Pontiac Trans Am with a turbo boosted turbine engine, lasers, a dashboard full of buttons and monitors, and a quick-witted AI with a dry sense of humor! The main thing everyone remembers though is that super iconic sweeping red light at the front of the car. KITT was awesome in every way and the only car that came close to being as cool was KARR, but he was evil.
We here at the Daily Driver appreciated the show so much growing up that we figured it’d be nice to give a little rundown on KITT. However, we’re not talking just the fantasy Knight Rider car from the show, but the real-life cars that made KITT come to life on the television screen. So, buckle up and switch to pursuit mode, because we’re hitting Turbo Boost on KITT the Knight Rider car.
1983 Pontiac Trans Am KITT replica – carsforsale.com | Shop Pontiac Trans Am on Carsforsale.com
KITT was brought to life with the help of Pontiac’s Trans Am. More specifically, around 20 models of KITT were made consisting of Trans Ams from 1982, 1983 and 1984 as well as some base hardtop Firebirds that shared similar paneling. However, not all of these models were made the same. Over the course of the show, there were two fiberglass dedicated jump cars, 12 other stunt specific cars (including ones for driving on two wheels), three shell cars that were intended for destruction, and six “Hero” cars that were used for close up shots.
Almost all the stunt cars had their internals redone, the frames strengthened, and were tuned to their specific tasks. Transmissions were swapped with a Turbo 350 3-speed and brake line locks were added for easier burnouts and 180° spins. With only a few of these KITT cars actually being destroyed for the show, it’s odd that only five are known to still exist. The original three from season one of Knight Rider and another mid-series one made public appearances to promote the show and somehow made their way into the hands of private collectors.
The last KITT known to exist was the second-to-last one ever built for the show. It was purpose built as a disposable stunt car, but NBC took the car and fitted it with the sound stage dashboard and T-top making it a kids’ attraction. If you were a kid growing up in the late 80s or early 90s you may have sat in this very car at Universal Studios theme park. Although, it becomes a little less glamorous when you hear that the park drilled holes in the floor due to over excited children having accidents…
1982 Pontiac Firebird KITT replica – carsforsale.com | Shop Pontiac Firebird on Carsforsale.com
But the question remains among collectors and show fans alike, where did the rest of the Knight Rider cars go? Sure, some were crashed in stunts and others didn’t even have an engine, but they had to of ended up somewhere. For the most part, Pontiac required the show to destroy many of the vehicles after the show since some were bought for a mere dollar from the company. Not all of the cars had to meet this stipulation, but it’s a possibility that the rest of these KITTs just ended up as scrap or were sold to someone less enamored with the show who sadly removed the gimmicks and made it their own.
While my colleague toted the General Lee as “the TV Classic Car,” I think that KITT holds a special place in our hearts as possibly the best TV Car. KITT had his own personality, high-tech gadgets, hit super speeds, and had The Hoff behind the wheel; how much more could you want? Knight Rider and KITT define that quintessential 80s aesthetic everyone remembers. The show will forever remain a major piece of 80s nostalgia. It may not necessarily have been an awesome show, but it sure was as an awesome concept.
Very interesting read!