“Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist.”
It’s time for another look back at some classic TV from the 1980’s and this time it’s the hugely popular, and awfully corny, Knight Rider. Knight Rider originally ran from 1982 to 1986 and, even though some of the fake car jumps with what was quite obviously a toy car might look daft today, it was wholesome family entertainment that could watch with your mum while eating your tea. Like many TV shows that run for a few years, it started off as a pretty cool show, but, in my humble opinion, it started to get a bit silly in the last few seasons. Still, if re-runs were on the TV today, I’d probably still watch them. If you remember the man that talked to his watch and had a close relationship with his car, you might just appreciate these ten facts about the lone crusader and his Knight Industries Two Thousand; Knight Rider.
1. K.I.T.T.’s scanner came from Battlestar Galactica
The red scanner lights on the hood of K.I.T.T, were a direct rip off from the red eyes of the Cylons on Battlestar Galactica and the sound effect that went with it was the same too. The scanner actually changed its speed as a way to convey the mood of K.I.T.T.
The voice of K.I.T.T. was provided by actor William Daniels, but he rarely actually spoke to David Hasselhoff. His lines were recorded away from the filming if the show and most of the time he didn’t even have a full script of the episodes, he just spoke his lines in a sound booth, and they were mixed into the soundtrack later.
3. The producers bought the Tans Ams for $1 each
General Motors weren’t too keen about being associated with the show at first in case it flopped, but once it had become popular, they supplied Trans Ams to the producers at a cost $1.00 each and they supplied David Hasselhoff with a couple to drive too. The show got through about nine Trans Ams every season.
4. The cars were modified for the stunts
There was only one car that was used for the close-up shots and had all the gizmos inside, the rest of the cars were completely stripped down and use as stunt cars. The stunt cars used in the jumps had fibre glass bodies. This was to save weight and so that they could be easily patched up again after they got smashed up in a stunt.
5. K.I.T.T. nearly had no personality
As the show progressed, K.I.T.T. developed his own distinct personality. When the show was originally conceived, it was envisaged that the car would have a monotone robotic voice and be devoid of any personality at all. William Daniels, however, refused to be a part if the show if he couldn’t develop a character for K.I.T.T.
6. The voice on the opening credits is William Basehart
The voice you hear during the opening credits of Knight Rider is that of William Basehart who played the part of Wilton Knight in the pilot episode. Anyone who is old enough to remember, might also recognise him as Admiral Nelson from the 1960’s TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
7. Some of the cars used were right hand drive
When K.I.T.T. is driving on auto-cruise they simply used a right hand drive version of the car so that Michael could jump in and out easily. In other scenes where the car moved without a driver, it was towed on a rope or driven from the rear seat.
K.I.T.T. was a modified 1982 Trans Am and the modifications were designed by Michael Scheffe, who used to work as a toy designer for Mattel. The car that is used in the close up shots had $100,000 worth of modifications done to it. That would be the equivalent of around $250,000 today.
9. Knight rider was inspired by the Line rage and B.J. and the Bear
It doesn’t take a genius to see the similarities between Michael Knight with his K.I.T.T, and the Lone Ranger with his trusty steed, but BJ and the Bear? Apparently B.J. and he Bear, which was also produced by Glen Larson has an episode that contained a technologically advanced police car and Larson wanted to expand on that idea.
10. K.I.T.T and the General Lee
Knight Rider and The Dukes of hazard were running at around that same time and competed for the same audience. Anyone who wrote to network about Knight Rider would receive a pamphlet about K.I.T.T. that included a picture of the car parked alongside an orange Dodge Charger along with the title "The Competition is NO Competition!" K.I.T.T. was also seen jumping an orange Dodge Charger in the episode “Give Me Liberty...Or Give Me Death”.
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