If you grew up in the ’80s, you’ll surely remember KITT from the television series “Knight Rider” – and David Hasselhoff, of course…
On the new episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, two individuals that know everything about KITT and the show stop by. Incredibly, Joe Huth, who’s the owner of this 1982 car, and AJ Palmgren, another Knight Rider “historian”, managed to track down two actual KITT cars from the show.
To film the series, the producers utilized 20 vehicles. Of those 20, only five survived filming and life after the show. Huth and Palmgren both haven an original KITT of their own, but the example that Huth brings to Leno is special for a variety of reasons.
While the vehicle looks like a ’82 Pontiac Trans Am, the specific model on hand is a base Firebird that’s been fitted with Trans-Am-like parts. As Palmgren points out, the producers used multiple Pontiacs for KITT, including, ’82, ’83 and ’84 Firebird and Trans Am models.
While KITT featured a (fictional) turbine engine, this model has something that’s more normal: a 305 cubic-inch V8 that’s paired to an updated Turbo 350 automatic gearbox. The coupe also has a lot of chassis bracing and a fancy braking system that can lock the front wheels for smoky burnouts or the rear wheels if you want to go sideways.
Huth’s example was a “throw-away stunt car,” so it didn’t have any of the fancy bits, like the high-tech dashboard, on it. It was only after the show came to a end in 1986 that Universal Studios retrofitted this example and put it on display in their theme park.
Despite only having 500 original miles on it, the vehicle had a tough life, as during its tenure on the theme park it had thousands of visitors sitting in it.
There are a lot of other fun facts to KITT and the show that you can learn about by watching the following video.