Home Entertainment Knight Rider: Far more than just a talking car

Knight Rider: Far more than just a talking car

Knight Rider: Far more than just a talking car
K.I.T.T.1982, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re of a certain vintage, you may have fond memories of Knight Rider, an all-action television show starring KITT – an AI-powered supercar with crime-fighting capabilities – and the charismatic (yet often rather cringe) David Hasselhoff. Following its original airing in the mid-1980s, the program has developed a cult status amongst petrol heads and pop culture fans alike, encouraging producers to re-boot the series on several occasions. 

The show goes on…

Given Knight Rider’s enduring popularity, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see references to Knight Rider across other entertainment channels. As well as a number of films and spin-offs, a series of video games were released between the late 80s and early 2000s, developed by Ocean Software, Pack-In Video Co., and Davilex. The creator of the show, Glen A. Larson’ also published a series of books following KITTS adventures. More recently, the franchise has even inspired game developers NetEnt to produce a Knight Rider-themed slot game. The ‘Cursed Knight Rider’ slot, which can be played at Paddy Power games online casino, accurately captures the show’s brooding energy and cool 80s vibes, with a virtual KITT and David Hasselhoff accompanying players for the ride.

Image by djedj from Pixabay

Models and specifications  

Although many enjoy the dramatic plot lines, cheesy humor, and blockbuster action scenes, for some, Knight Rider is all about the car. Although a different vehicle – the 2008-2009 Ford Shelby GT500KR – was deployed in the later installments of the legendary television franchise, most will remember Hasselhoff’s partner in crime; a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (referred to on the show as a Knight Industries Two Thousand – KITT).

Clearly, for the purposes of entertainment, KITT was a heavily modified version of Pontiac’s classic car, complete with a super-strength chassis and complex internal computer system. Nevertheless, even without these alterations, the vehicle was already a tremendously impressive specimen.

The Firebird Trans Am was the jewel in the crown of the third generation Firebird series, which also included the basic ‘Firebird’ model, and the upgraded ‘Firebird S/E’ Pontiac incorporated a whole suite of new features into its third generation Firebirds, including 4-Speed auto transmission, 4-cylinder engines, and 16-inch wheel sets. Furthermore, it was the first time any Firebird was available in hatchback format, adding to the current 2-door convertible and 2/3-door coupe options. However, the most notable distinction between third-generation Firebird models and previous releases – at least in the eye of consumers – was its iconic compactible headlamps, which could be exposed or hidden at the simple push of a button.

Given that the car had to get to destinations swiftly in order to save the day, it was just as well that the Firebird Trans Am had superb acceleration. KITT’s ability to shift from 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds may seem fairly sluggish in the context of today’s standards, but back in the 80s, this would have been considered an extremely quick turnaround.

Black car - knight rider
Photo by Arthur Besnard on Unsplash

A lead character in its own right

The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am may well be best remembered for its role in a hit 80s crime drama, but it’s worth noting that this car was also a beautiful piece of automotive architecture, equipped with its own personality and charm. Indeed, Wilton Knight may have given KITT a voice, but even if left in its original factory form, the vehicle would arguably have still served as an endearing lead character – Knight Rider was far more than just a talking car. 

Featured K.I.T.T.1982, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons