Knight Rider car

a 1984 Trans Am so that it looks exactly like the Knight Rider car.

The car is a sleek, shiny black with the trademark red scanner light moving back and forth on the hood. The dashboard instrument panel
looks like something one might see in the cockpit of a fighter jet. It includes buttons marked "arm laser," "eject left" and "smokescreen."

Any science fiction geek from the 1980s would immediately recognize this as KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), the futuristic car driven by David Hasselhoff in the TV show "Knight Rider." (The show originally ran from 1982 to 1986.)

"This is as close as you can possibly get without buying one of the Universal cars [one of the cars from the original show]," said owner Leni Gronros of Rockport.

Restoring a 1984 Pontiac Trans Am and turning it into the "Knight Rider" car was a dream project that took Gronros years to complete. He has only had the car on the road since August, and already it is attracting attention.

Gronros made his debut as the new "Knight Rider" in the Maine Lobster Festival Parade in Rockland and has been out meeting with other local hot rod enthusiasts in the area. Often, he said with pride, his vehicle will draw the most attention at a gathering of show cars.

Gronros, 42, said he used to enjoy watching the TV show with his father.

"It was the personality of the car in the show," he said when asked what has kept him so interested all these years.

He gives actor William Daniels a great deal of credit as the voice of the car, KITT.

"He put humanity into an inanimate object and the way the characters interacted was captivating," Gronros said.

He said he is also inspired by the show's theme.

"One man can make a difference," Gronros said. He said that belief has translated into his work with Rotary International.

"I watch the show because of David Hasselhoff," added Gronros' wife, Kimberlee Graffam, owner of Graffam Brothers Seafood Market in Rockport.

For Gronros, this is actually his second attempt. He originally tried working with a 1989 Trans Am, and then changed to the 1984 model because it was better suited to the transition.

The front end comes from a mold made from an actual prop from the original show. "eBay is a wonderful, marvelous thing," Gronros said, when asked where he got the part.

The scanner light was a Christmas present from his wife.
The dashboard was an $8,000 investment. In addition to working on it himself over the years, he worked with Steel's Real Rods & Customs in Warren.

One of the challenges in replicating the iconic vehicle, he said, is that one never really sees the whole car at once in the TV show. The viewer is shown one piece in one scene and another in a different scene. In addition, the show used hundreds of different cars, crashing and destroying many of them. In some cases, a car used for an action sequence might only have had a few alterations to make it look like the "Knight Rider" car, when vehicles in closeup shots were much more detailed.

Gronros said he still has more work to do on the project. Eventually, all of the buttons on his instrument panel will perform some function. In addition, the two TV screens in the dash board are now only able to play DVDs, but eventually, he said, they will provide feed from cameras on the front and back of the car, just as they did on the original.

The vehicle in the show had a number of James Bond-style features. It could eject passengers, inflate parachutes, create oil slicks and spread smoke behind it to hinder pursuing vehicles.

"I just about have the smoke screen worked out," Gronros said and laughed.

Eventually, he hopes to drive KITT across the country to Las Vegas for a meeting of the "Knight Rider" fan club, specifically Knight Registries for owners of replica cars.

- video encodings still in process -