Way back in September of 1982, NBC debuted a prime-time television show called Knight Rider. Featuring a relatively unknown actor by the name of David Hasselhoff, Knight Rider was a detective/spy show centered around Hasselhoff’s character, Michael Knight, and a then-brand new 1982 Trans Am. Known as the Knight Industries Two-Thousand, or K.I.T.T for short, the talking, self-driving, bulletproof and apparently unlimited-performing F-body would help introduce a whole new generation of budding car enthusiasts to the Pontiac Firebird.
Much like how Smokey and the Bandit had done for Trans Am sales in years prior, the car-buying public flocked to Pontiac showrooms looking for the new “Knight Rider Edition Trans Am,” complete with the light bar (aka, scanner) in the front bumper and the talking voice box on the dashboard. Of course no such thing actually existed, although you could get a black and gold Trans Am with T-Tops, a 165 hp Cross-Fire injected 305 ci. V8 and the now iconic PMD interior package. While some potential buyers left in disappointment, many others still signed on the dotted line for the next best thing – a small handful of which would even go on to build K.I.T.T. replica cars out of their example.
It wouldn’t go off without a hitch, however, as both the car and the show would ultimately wind up in both the “cheesy” and “nerdy” categories to the masses in the succeeding years, despite the strong following some thirty-years since the show has been cancelled. Tons of Knight Rider fan organizations, K.I.T.T. car clubs and even occasional cast reunion events still happen to this day – the impact the show has left on millions of fans worldwide has yet to wane.
There are many reasons for this, most-notably, the fact that those of us now in our 30s and 40s can connect the show with our childhood – so there’s definitely the nostalgia factor working its magic. It also has to do a lot with the show itself; the action sequences, endless car chases and stunts, the quirky humor and the storyline of one man trying to make a difference has spoken volumes to individuals everywhere. David Hasselhoff’s character and his personable Trans Am would travel from place to place all over the country (mostly in the Southwest), coming to people’s aid – usually as an assignment, but often by chance.
The show would air four full seasons; translating into ninety one-hour episodes spanning from September, 1982 to April, 1986. By that time, the production version of the Trans Am looked more modern than K.I.T.T., and with that, the car was quickly outdated as was the show.
Fast forward to today, and enthusiasts like Jennifer Catano hold title to cars like her K.I.T.T. replica, built from a later 1986 Trans Am, ironically enough. Having wanted a Trans Am since she was a kid, as a result of the show, she located a 3rd-generation T/A (sporting eye-piercing florescent green paint), and slowly transformed it from a Fast and the Furious reject, into the perfect body double of the star of Knight Rider.
She even managed to make friends with David Hasselhoff along the way and helped build a car for the actor’s 60th-birthday. In the video, her car is shown as being in the early stages of a “Super Pursuit Mode” conversion, although only the taillights are in place.
The video not only highlights her relationship with the show and her car, but also what it means for her family. It also brings in Hasselhoff himself, to add to the wow-factor, shed some additional insight on what the show was about and how it had effected the lives of millions of people. Even the host of theAFICIONAUTO, Christopher Rutkowsk, who was initially cynical and critical of the car, eventually warmed up to it and the show. If you have ten minutes, give it a watch and take a trip down memory lane with us. You never know, you might even want to buy a third-gen after you’ve watched it…
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.