If you were a kid in the 1980s like many of us here at GM-EFI, you no doubt watched the hit television show, Knight Rider, which aired from 1982-1986. Filled with quasi-violence and an abundance of outrageous car stunts, it was just the sort of Hollywood hi-jinx our young selves enjoyed.
However, even as children, we knew that the true star of the show wasn’t the perennially handsome David Hasselhoff, but the black, customized Pontiac Trans Am known as KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand).
Created by Michael Scheffe, there were initially just four KITTs produced for the show; while that may sound like more than enough, the show’s producers had an affinity for wild stunts, often causing damage that took weeks to repair. In 1983, the show was able to acquire nearly a dozen new Pontiac Trans Ams when a train carrying them derailed, making them unsellable to the general public.
Though undamaged, one of the stipulations required by General Motors was that the cars be destroyed when filming concluded. Throughout Knight Rider’s run, there were about 20-22 cars used in the show; all but five were eventually destroyed.
Jay Huth and A.J. Palmgren are two Knight Rider enthusiasts who have done extensive research to separate the five remaining authentic cars from the hundreds of recreations. The duo tracked down the remaining cars; four were owned by collector Carl Casper. Casper sold three of them (the one he still owns is in the Cruise Automotive Museum in Indiana), one was sold to a buyer in the U.K., and one was acquired by the Miami Auto Museum.
The last of Casper’s cars was located on a lot in San Diego, California by Huth and Palmgren; with the two being such fans of the show, they scraped together enough cash to acquire the car. The fifth car was featured at a Universal Studios theme park, then sold to a junkyard after the attraction which housed it closed. Huth and Palmgren were able to rescue this Trans Am as well, and regularly display their two finds at events across the country.