If you aren’t old enough to remember BetaMax or Thundercats, you probably don’t care about crime-fighting sports cars. David Hasselhoff was the human star of the TV series Knight Rider, and his co-star was a 1982 to ’84 Pontiac Trans/Am. “KITT” was keen at apprehending the bad guys’ thanks to lasers, cheesy special effects, and an English accent. To see what the car is all about, two collectors stopped by Jay Leno’s Garage for a blast from the past.
We would like to think that Hollywood uses powerful cars to keep our attention, but KITT was all HYPE. The “Knight Industries Two Thousand” was driven by Michael Knight (Hasselhoff) and it was slower than Alexa’s great-grandfather. While the show built 20 hero cars for filming, they didn’t start life as Trans/Am models. They were base-model Firebirds with carbureted 305 (5.0 liter) V8 engines. I have owned 9 examples of third generation F-body (Camaro/Firebird), and these things are terrible by modern standards.
But in the 80’s, it was ok to have 110 horsepower as long as you had 300 lb-ft of torque. To make them reliable, the 700R4 automatic (which was new in 82) was swapped for the old 3-speed TH350 transmission. I have encountered several survivors from the series, and their owners care nothing for performance. Keeping a TV car in stock condition is ok for collectors, but slow is an understatement. In the 90’s there was a company that would convert your Firebird into KITT, so there were many clones on the market until recently. A big thanks to these guys for keeping KITT alive, and for Jay Leno for another great upload. If you have any Third Generation Camaro/Firebird stories, tell us in the comments below and stay with us for more updates from JLG!