The True Inside Scoop On Everything Knight Rider:
AJ Palmgren of Knight Rider Historians.
This is the episode that Knight Rider fans have been waiting for since TMCP launched in 2009: the in depth look at the screen used “K.I.T.T” Trans Am’s from the TV series, Knight Rider!
Our guest is Mr. AJ Palmgren, and he along with business partner Joe Huth (a fellow Knight Fanatic) are the minds behind Knight Rider Historians. In addition to each owning a screen used KITT from the series (only 5 of which still exist), they’ve attended and presented at many shows and have written books using direct interviews with the series insiders. These guys are to Knight Rider what our pal “Corndog” is for the Dukes of Hazzard on the Kibbe and Finnegan Show.
The story of Knight Rider itself begins with the great Glen Larson. He had already created many other infamous ’70’s and 80’s shows (Magnum PI, Battlestar Galactica, Quincy MD, Six Million Dollar Man, etc.) and was a bit of a golden ticket when it came to TV concepts.
For Knight Rider, he had a vision of a futuristic vehicle to play the pivotal role – and had seen the pictures of the yet to be released 1982 Trans (the first year of the 3rd general F-body platform). With the help of John Schinella from General Motors Pontiac Division, was able to get a few very early production vehicles to use in the first season.
Michael Scheffe imagined the iconic look of the Knight Rider vehicles from the scanner to the more pointed nose he made KITT the car he is today. Later Michael went on to create the Delorean from Back to the Future and other notable movie vehicles. AJ did inform me that later in the series George Barris also had involvement in the design of the “Super Pursuit” mode K.I.T.T., but that was years after the series had launched.
AJ told me about the Vista Group who was the company responsible for acquiring and modifying Trans-Am’s into KITT. The first season they were only able to obtain three cars and had to use them for the whole season of filming.
On the Knight Rider Historians Blogspot page, AJ and Joe document many of the repairs and updates required to keep the cars on screen. They even have pictures of a KITT being destroyed so that the cars would never make it into the hands of someone willing to drive it on the road (and maybe hurt themselves). Over ten KITTs were destroyed when the series ended but a handful slipped out and these are what AJ and Joe own today.
Of course, one of the biggest things I personally remember about the launch of Knight Rider was the marketing campaign that compared KITT to the General Lee. You’ll hear that discussed in hear as well.
You can learn more about the Knight Rider Historians through multiple media outlets including YouTube, Blogspot, and Facebook. Also I dug up some articles from various magazine showing some of the great history AJ and I talked about in the interview.
I am looking forward to part two of this interview AJ!
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This interview sponsored by our pals at National Parts Depot –
your premier source for muscle car restoration parts!