Knight Rider is one of the best TV series ever produced in the 1980s. The Knight Industries Two Thousand car (KITT) was introduced as the co-star of David Hasselhoff from the series, and it was the automotive star in the 1980s (Still, it is one of the most famous automotive stars). In the 80’s Knight Rider series, KITT was a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 3rd generation car with the famous futuristic cockpit. That was something far beyond the time. There is much interesting information about the series as well as the KITT.
Voice of the KITT
Actor William Daniels was the voice of the original KITT, and it is who he requested not to credit for his work. Doubtlessly, this is the perfect voice for the KITT. Interestingly, William and David Hasselhoff haven’t met until six months after filming season one. They met at the production’s Christmas party. Until then, Hasselhoff hasn’t seen the face behind the voice of the KITT.
Knight Rider Theme
Glen A. Larson and Stu Phillips are the geniuses behind this awesome track. According to the authors, they were inspired by two things when making the theme. A German piece of synthesizer song and a classical Mozart-type song. Some believe that Cortège de Bacchus by Léo Delibes and Sphinx by Harry Thumann were the songs that inspired them.
Design of the KITT
KITT was a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 3rd generation car, for the TV pilot team got 3 new fully opted cars from the Pontiac. They were planning minimal changes to the outfit of the car. John Schinella, head of Pontiac’s design studio, provided a customized nose design for the car, as per the request from Wade Harker, inspired by the Galactica series ‘Cylon Warrior.’
The modification work to the cars was done by a Southern Californian car builder named Jon Ward. Michael Scheffe was hired to design the computerized dashboard for the KITT. The dash built was fixed to two of the cars, and a stationery buck was used for close-up shots.
The convertible and super pursuit KITT were designed and built by George Barris.
KITT or KITTs?
Knight Rider’s production team has used multiple cars for the series. Over 20 cars have been acquired and modified appropriately for either the hero or stunt car. Many were Pontiac Firebirds, while others were a Firebird Trans Am. During the series, it was noticed that the cars had T-Tops. But the reality is some of them had T-Tops, while others were hardtop models, but still, they were dressed to appear as if they had T-Tops.
This is the most interesting part of the series, car driving itself. During the 1-3 seasons, the team used a stunt driver inside the driver seat. If you carefully watch the seasons again, you can identify these. But, in season 4, they used a different technique. They modified the original hero car as a right-hand blind drive so that the production team could take close-ups of where Hasselhoff could get into the car without cutting the scene.
Super Pursuit Mode (SPM)
During season 4, the production team introduced the Super Pursuit Mode of KITT to retain viewers for a fourth season. There are no long shots of KITT being changed into Super Pursuit Mode since KITT is not moving. A shell of KITT’s body was used when filming the transition to Super Pursuit Mode since large hydraulic rams were needed to articulate the body panels, and there was no room for an engine or running gear in the car. Interestingly, SPM KITT was towed backward, with the parts pulling in. Universal reversed the footage for the transforming sequence. And this is the same car that was pulled out of the acid pit in “Junk Yard Dogs” from season 3.
In the second season, extensive use of miniatures was there. Jack Sessums provided this miniature stuff. Most of the impossible stuff like jumping over trains, over helicopters, crashing into Goliath, and “walking on water” were fulfilled with the models provided.
1/8th scale miniatures of KITT were built and modified from the existing commercially available Monogram kit of the 1982 Camaro Z-28 to the same scale. Almost everything done involving trains were miniatures built by Sessums and his crew; as it turns out, Sessums was a model train enthusiast who had large-scale garden railway models already built, and the production crews made a lot of use of these models, which for the most part were ready for use.
During the production, some of the Cars were thoroughly damaged/abused from the show’s stunt work. Following the agreement between General Motors, Ten-to-twelve of them were destroyed after filming ceased. A couple of vehicles were displayed in a theme park for a time.
From the original set, there are only five surviving cars. One became the personal property of David Hasselhoff by the end of the series and was sold into a private collection in 1992. It can now be seen at the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswick, Cumbria, England. Another one was brought to Jay Leno’s Garage for review. The Original hero car still exists. It was in the Kruse Museum in Auburn, Indiana, until it went to storage.