We have a confession to make: we’re closet Knight Rider fans around here. No, not the also-ran 2008 version with the Shelby Mustang – that one doesn’t even count – but the original series that ran on primetime NBC from 1982-1986. It wasn’t because of The Hoff, the cheesy lines, or the voice of Mr Feeney as K.I.T.T., the talking ’82 Trans Am.
Rather, it was because the murdered-out Pontiac was seemingly invincible and had a limitless top speed – which was all it took to make an elementary school-aged gearhead’s heart skip a beat in the mid-’80s.
While the magic of television had provided an unrealistic image of a rattletrap F-body with an anemic 165 hp Cross-Fire 305, as children, we gobbled it up faster than Nintendo cereal and enjoyed it more than Saturday morning cartoons. You can arguably say that Knight Rider, along with the Smokey and the Bandit films that preceded it, is what inspired ’80s kids to eventually pick up an F-body of their own later in life.
When it was announced that Richard Rawlings, Aaron Kaufman, and the crew at Gas Monkey Garage were building a K.I.T.T. replica for the season finale of the series, were become very excited. We tuned in and watched the two-hour special where Jay Rickey, wealthy business owner and personal friend of Richard’s, tosses Richard $50k to build him an ’82 Trans Am K.I.T.T clone. Then he bets him $100,000 that he couldn’t get David Hasselhoff to his 40th birthday party in Las Vegas. In typical Gas Monkey style, Richard takes him up on the offer.
A few speed bumps notwithstanding finding a car, they ultimately locate a TPI-powered ’85 Trans Am (already done up in K.I.T.T. livery) for a cash price of $15k. While the crew at Gas Monkey put some work into the car to get it right, Richard flies off to Europe with his sister after hearing The Hoff was performing an ’80s concert in Sweden. After dressing in ’80s garb, supposedly “sneaking” into the dressing room, and a haggling with Michael Knight himself, Rawlings heads back to Dallas to finish the build on the T/A.
We don’t want to ruin the conclusion to the episode, so you’ll have to tune in at a later date for an encore presentation to see how it all ends. In the meantime, you can win the K.I.T.T. Trans Am from the Gas Monkey episode by heading over to Discovery.com, entering the contest and registering here. Good luck!