Then fiction, today reality: KITT, the talking car is 40!

“He’s coming. A car, a computer, a man. Knight Rider. A man and his car fight against injustice.” A whole generation grew up with these sentences. The first episode of the action series “Knight Rider” first aired on US television 40 years ago – on September 26, 1982. It turned the (human) protagonist into a global star – and the talking vehicle into a cult object.

KITT, the Knights Industries Two Thousand, became a worldwide TV star in the 90 episodes produced. He was a modified ’82 Pontiac Trans Am that, thanks to artificial intelligence, could think, speak and drive itself. In his time he clearly outshined the leading actor David Hasselhoff in terms of coolness. Today you wish autonomous cars were like KITT

Useful for classic car fans

Anyone watching the 90 episodes today (for a fee on Amazon Prime Video, soon on the streaming service RTL +), has to smile more often. From today’s perspective, the action scenes seem involuntarily funny. At that time, however, the idea of ​​artificial intelligence in the form of a self-driving and talking car was groundbreaking.

Turbo Boost and Super Chase Mode

Examples of KITT’s legendary prowess included Turbo Boost and Super Pursuit mode. The Turbo Boost allowed the black one Amy, jump over obstacles at the touch of a button. In super chase mode, KITT reached speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour (more than 480 km/h) on TV.

Pontiac TransAM

The hallmark of KITT par excellence is the pulsating red scanner in the front of the vehicle.

Any child of the 80’s can probably recognize KITT by his red scanner in the front of the vehicle wandering back and forth and the accompanying noise. When separated from his human co-star David Hasselhoff, aka Michael Knight, the two communicated via comlink, a voice link in Knight’s watch.

Molecular sealing made KITT invulnerable

KITT could run on any liquid flammable material and had a molecular seal that made it nearly indestructible. The car was serviced by Dr. Donnie Barstow and April Curtis, his personal mechanics.

Controlled other cars with Microjam

In the course of the series series, the equipment of the super car was constantly expanded. In Silent Mode, KITT dimmed its engine noise so far that it was barely audible. Microjam made it possible to manipulate electrical systems and let KITT control other cars.

Pontiac TransAM

Cult, but not really practical: KITT’s spacious cockpit with the stub steering wheel.

With his grappling hook, KITT was able to pull himself out of waterholes. He roped people down from rocks with a winch. With its surveillance mode, KITT could track people or objects and take pictures of areas that were not directly visible.

KITT even had an ATM on board

Its emergency brake increased drag and made braking from super chase mode possible. An invisible seat belt protected the passengers. KITT was even able to eavesdrop on telephone conversations via comlink. And even in the event that David Hasselhoff alias Michael Knight ran out of cash, provisions were made. KITT had an ATM on board.

“Knight Rider” is well remembered by Hasselhoff

“It feels like yesterday. I can still remember almost everything,” said Hasselhoff of the German Press Agency. The entertainer was 30 years old when the double episode ‘Knight of the Phoenix’ aired on cable network NBC. Curly hair, leather jacket, tight jeans: These were the trademarks of the cool, always flirty agent Michael Knight, who solved criminal cases with his talking sports car.

David Hasselhoff with KITT

He can hardly do without him: David Hasselhoff on the “30 Years Looking For Freedom” tour in April 2018 in Berlin’s Friedrichstadtpalast.

Around three years after the start in the US, the cult duo also made it onto the screens in Germany – and became a huge success for what had previously been a rather small private broadcaster. “I know that ‘Knight Rider’ did very well on RTL. It made the station well-known because it was the first series they bought from America,” Hasselhoff recalls. The radio plays for the series were also a hit .


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But after four seasons, NBC canceled the series in 1986 because of high production costs. Attempts to revive the series through films and spin-off series always failed.

“I don’t think it was a vision”

“The most unbelievable thing is that a lot has come true: GPS, cars that drive and park by themselves. I can ask where the nearest café is and my car will tell me. We can talk to our watches. That’s incredible,” he said Hasselhoff. It is fascinating that set designer Michael Scheffe had all these ideas back then. “I don’t even think he had the vision. I think he just drew and created whatever came to his mind. And today it’s all coming true.”

With material from dpa.

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