Under the Hood of David Hasselhoff’s ‘Knight Rider’ — An Inside Look

It’s tough to make a TV show about a car. Oh, sure there have been some really cool cars featured in TV shows like Batman (the Batmobile), Green Hornet (the Black Beauty), Starsky & Hutch (their ‘75 Ford Gran Torino), or My Mother the Car (a 1928 Porter — OK, not all of them were cool), but they were never front and center. That all changed with Knight Rider, the David Hasselhoff series that originally ran on NBC from 1982-1986.

In the show, undercover LAPD officer Michael Arthur Long is shot in the face during an assignment and left for dead. Instead, he’s saved by self-made billionaire Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart). Following plastic surgery, Michael is given the last name Knight and made the lead field agent in FLAG (Foundation for Law and Government), a public justice organization and, armed with KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am equipped with artificial intelligence among other high-tech features, he fights for justice. It is probably the only successful show that developed an actual connection between the lead and his car. And that connection, of course, led to the other important aspect of Knight Rider: the impact that the show — and especially KITT — has made on a couple of generations of viewers.

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David Rogers, an Emmy Award-winning editor, whose credits include Seinfeld, The Office, and The Mindy Project, is a massive fan of the series. “I was a scrawny 13-year-old kid living in New Jersey when Knight Rider first aired, and I was hooked immediately,” he relates in an exclusive interview. “Michael Knight was cool, good looking, and funny. I wanted to be him. And look who his best friend was — an amazing car that was invulnerable to bullets, better looking, and faster than every other vehicle on the street. And it was loaded with abilities and weapons that put James Bond’s cars to shame. But even more important was that KITT had a brain, a personality, and heart. It’s like, if you weren’t tough enough as Michael Knight, your car would protect you and keep you safe and was this loyal friend that you could talk to. I think every teenage boy back then wished they had their own KITT, and some of us ‘grownups’ still do.” David doesn’t — he ultimately decided to take the plunge and purchased a full replica of KITT, which was even seen on an episode of The Goldbergs.

Please scroll down for much more of this inside look at all things Knight Rider.

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