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Fastback Friday – Knight Rider’s KITT in Italy

Antti Kautonen February 1, 2013 For Sale

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The ’80s TV series Knight Rider was immensely popular in Europe, even long into the ’90s as reruns. Since our summer house didn’t have a functioning TV in 1993 or so, I biked to the house next door to watch Knight Rider and MacGyver. I’ve tried to watch both in recent times, and out of the two MacGyver has aged so much better (as a series, not necessarily the actors). It’s probably due to seeing Knight Rider reuse the same trailer rollout clip for the tenth time that I noticed they had spent 75% of their budget on the car, 20% on David Hasselhoff’s appearance and only the remaining percentage on actual production values.

But I digress. The car, at least in more impressionable days, was nigh-on perfect. The series milked the Trans Am’s ’80s design til the last drop, and it’s practically a wonder the KITT dress-up wasn’t available from any Pontiac dealership. It’s that iconic, nearly on the same level as the BTTF DeLorean. Here’s a 1984 Trans Am for sale in Italy, and yes, it’s completely KITT’d out. There, I got to use that quip at least once.

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From the nose cone to the bowling ball wheel covers to the blacked-out taillight bar, it’s exactly like it should. It also looks kind of weird parked on an Italian side street, next to humdrum Fiats and Opels.

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And of course, it has the swooshing red light. I have no idea whether using that is legal anywhere but in Mediterranian countries, where I’d imagine the Carabinieri to be quite impressed rather than incensed with it.

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And the party trick of course is the interior. Complete with the pistol grip steering “wheel” and the gadgety, extended dashboard, it’s just like in the series. It’d be fitting if there was an Italian dub of William Daniels reciting replies for you. The interior is tan, just like the TV car’s was.

The whole car is probably based on an US-sourced kit, and it’s most likely been cobbled together there. Another possibility is naturally Germany, as David Hasselhoff’s popularity there might well be enduring.

The Italian Knight Rider car is for sale for the princely sum of 20 000 eur over at autoscout24.de. Would you hand it over?

 

Bonus content: Here’s a clip of a similar car driving on a Japanese? highway. Always entertaining.

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Currently there are "28 comments" on this Article:

  1. B72 says:

    The dashboard actually works? That's far more impressive than the body kit.

  2. muthalovin says:

    Probably worth it for the dash alone. Vintage electronics are rarified.

  3. acarr260 says:

    A KITT from the TV series that was used in filming sold at an Auction in Auburn within the past few years. It was inside with the nicer cars, but the interior looked terrible up close. The buttons were all huge and you could see how they were crudely glued on. No way I would spend that much… and I used to really enjoy the show growing up.

    • julkinen says:

      I'd think anyone turning the prop design into a consumer-fitted dashboard kit would develop it further to avoid any ruining of childhoods.

    • P161911 says:

      It might not have been the car used for interior shots/closeups. Often there are several cars with some only done up "close enough" by the prop department.

  4. Sjalabais says:

    I bow my head in disgusted respect.

  5. Rust-MyEnemy says:

    It must have been so much harder for kids in the US to suspend their disbelief when they'd see roads full of 151 c.i four-cylinder Firebirds heaving down the highways.

    In the UK every single Firebird you saw was KITT, with or without the KITT kit.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

      I had a friend Daniel-son (we also really like Karate Kid and thought that was how it was pronounced) who came to US a bit after me. He had seen some Knight Rider reruns earlier. He was really bummed when he found out that the cars did not all talk in USA. His own 'roads paved in gold' experience.

  6. mnm4ever says:

    I dont know what all the fuss was about, KITT had stock Trans Am wheels from 82-83, stock T/A seats, stock rear spoiler, stock T/A hood, and all Trans Ams and most Firebirds came with mostly blacked out taillights from the factory (and the GTS tinted covers were widely used on most any car in the 80s to completely black them out). The only difference was the nose, and the 1991-92 Firebird front end really wasn't all that different from the KITT nose. Yea the interior was massively different but also massively tacky and useless, and in 1986-88 Pontiac offered a real digital dashboard on the T/A that was way better and actually worked. OK, well it worked at first, I am sure it didn't work after a year or so but you get my point.

    I personally think a stock 82 T/A looks better without the rhinoplasty.

  7. P161911 says:

    I can't imagine that this isn't one of the TV cars. Especially considering they put THAT much work into the interior. I'm sure it would be cheaper to get one of the TV cars. I know JC Whitney sold the red hood lights and I'm sure there might have been a few aftermarket noses similar, but a whole interior kit?!?

    • Eurylokhos says:

      I have a friend who built one up that looks just like this. He worked in a body shop and did all the work himself (started with an old beat up TA), and claimed that he had about $10k into it at the end. His looked just like this with the full interior that functioned and everything. Pretty cool the first couple times I saw it, but after that it just seemed kind of stupid to me. He must have agreed, he sold it a year or 2 later and got around $18k for it.

  8. 0ToTuttiFrutti says:

    The level of detail in that KITT Kit is pretty astonishing. Nowadays any geek worth his LEDs could hide a laptop under the dash and program it to run the displays and lights, but in the 80's this would have taken a high level of breadboarding genius. Not to mention there must be several VHS decks in the trunk to feed all the data and video screens.

  9. POLAЯ says:

    Does it speak…

    KITTalian?

  10. Dan-O says:

    There are a couple of companys in the US that make the parts to transform your T/A into a KITT. They sell everything you may need including a working dash. With todays tech, its pretty easy to integrate a laptop as well. The original TV show cars were very primitive and had electrical problems due to the overuse of incandecent light bulbs all over the inside.

  11. Fritzo2162 says:

    I just bruised my jaw after it hit the floor.

  12. Mad_Science says:

    Siri + special voiceover + Google's self-driving car tech = real Kitt

    Just add Veyron for super-pursuit mode.

  13. HSA says:

    The car on the video may have some reliability problems with all that high-tech stuff. See the brand name in the steering wheel spoke at 0:48: "Knight Industries Tow Thousand".

  14. Maxichamp says:

    If I bought that car, I'd ask my wife to change her name to Bonnie.

  15. Kevin says:

    Rest assured this is NOT an original car from the series by any stretch of the imagination.

    Actually there are many companies in the US that provide the fiberglass parts for converting a 3rd Gen F-Body into the Knight 2000. Only a few companies exist that create the one of a kind, custom electronics that simulate every detail of the dashboard seen in the TV series. Whether it is the 1 &2nd season or the 3&4 season electronics, they are integrated with ALL of the functionality of stock guages and often cases offer more functionality, with a bar graph as well as numerical readout gas guages that will tell you how many miles you have left to the tank and the amount of gas left.
    This "replica" being sold, as well as the replica in the video, pale in comparison to some of the craftmanship of completed replicas around the globe.

  16. Kevin says:

    The dashboard in the car being sold is all wrong as far as even replicas go. Terrible execution and detail. This replica also sports a 4th season nose, which is to match what they did to the car in the fourth season of the show with "Super Pursuit Mode" This style nose should also only have four fog lights, two on each side. The interior is a mess with a 2 "TV" dashboard indicative of the 1st and 2nd seasons of the series. Not an accurate representation ann once again terrible execution. The guage overlays are a mess.

    To answer another comment: Alot of owners have installed custom computer equipment to make K.I.T.T. come to life with speech recognition software. By voice, owners are able to control most functions of the car from starting, shutting off, windows up/down, headlights, doors and trunk open, music selection, and preprogrammed speech in K.I.T.T.'s original voice. To date, the most an exact replica has sold for privately, is around $60,000.00 US.

  17. Kevin says:

    To respond to an earlier comment, no the Trans Ams and Firebirds did not come equipped with tinted out tail lights. The plastic housing on a Trans Am in 82-84 was a bit darker. But none had a tail light blackout cover like the Knight 2000 sported.

    In addition creating an exact replica of the Knight 200 is no easy feat. To do it correctly some owners have taken 10+ years of gathering the correct Trans Am parts in addition to the $15,000.00 US or more that the Knight Rider replica parts cost. It has taken almost 25 years for the parts to evolve and be 100% accurate.
    A quick internet search for Jupiter Electronics, Knight Designs, Lectric Enterprises, or Louissell Enterprises should make you gasp for air at what these cars really look like in 2013.
    This car depending on the condition of the body/engine might sell for $4000.00

    • mnm4ever says:

      Obviously you are a real Knight Rider fanatic, which is cool, I enjoyed the show myself. But I checked out your links… the only exterior conversion parts they sell are a replacement nose and a blackout taillight panel. Everything else is interior components, and specifically all there is are dashboard parts and the steering wheel. We are not talking about replacing significant parts of a standard Trans Am. And I was the one who said that Trans Ams all came with tinted taillights, and they most definitely did. Every T/A from 82-92 had darkened "tinted" taillights. No, NOT blacked out the same as KITT, but pretty dark. And GTS blackout covers were widely available and commonly used on many cars, not just T/As and KITT.

      Guys can probably spend $15k making a "real" KITT. But let's not forget that KITT wasn't real, it didn't really talk, wasn't really voice commanded, etc. So those "replicas" are not really replicas, they are worlds better than the cars used in the TV show. Those guys put a lot of work into creating something that even the TV show didn't really have. But they didn't spend $15k on body conversion parts. A standard 1982-83 Trans Am in black with tinted windows rolled up looks pretty much exactly like a KITT. And these days a smartphone and a good car alarm can do most of those electronic things that seemed pretty wild back in the 80s.

  18. Louisa says:

    I don’t drop a great deal of responses, however i did some searching and wound up here Fastback Friday – Knight Rider

  19. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally
    well written!

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