Retro Review > The Knight Rider 2000 Voice Car

NOTE: Originally published on OAFE.net.

2209549627_ef0417c482_m  First off, let’s get one thing straight–in theory, that pasty, blobby white shape in the picture is intended to resemble the face of actor David Hasselhoff, circa 1983. In theory. In practice, the only clue that this is Mr. Baywatch is the distinctive wind-blown coiffure. With its lipless, tepid smile, beady eyes fixed in a zombie-like stare, and milky, translucent-looking skin, this figure resembles an albino frog more than every German’s favorite actor.

I offer you this photo of an albino frog for comparison. I think you’ll find the similarities disturbingly apparent.

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But as a child, I was very fond of this figure–or rather, the Kenner toy set he was a part of. The appeal of Knight Rider 2000 Voice Car, as the toy was apparently called (I called it “KITT car and Michael Knight,” I believe) was not the cheap Michael Knight figure, but rather KITT, the talking Trans Am and true star of the television series Knight Rider. Let’s face it: KITT (whose voice was provided by William Daniels, who later became Boy Meets World‘s Mr. Feeny) was not only more interesting than Michael Knight in that he was a talking car that was impervious to bullets and could leap over other cars, but he also had more acting skill in his aural equalizer than David Hasselhoff has in his entire body.Really, when I was a kid, nothing was cooler than a talking black sports car that could also drive itself if necessary. I remember wishing for a Knight Rider/A-Team crossover; could Mr. T’s van outrun KITT? Though such a match-up never came to pass, I still enjoyed my weekly dose of KITT and his pet human. Like everything else from the ’80s, Knight Rider has witnessed a minor revival in the form of a recent computer game.

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But in the ’80s themselves, this toy ruled. This was my first “bonus surprise,” meaning the gift I would get when my dad got a bonus at work. It cost $25–no small chunk of change to my parents at that time. But what a toy! This was no little Matchbox car. This was a full-size vehicle, complete with rolling wheels, a movable steering wheel, opening and closing doors, and best of all, it talked. When you pulled on the license plate, KITT said one of six phrases:

  • “Engaging the infrared tracking scope.”
  • “Scanners indicate danger ahead.”
  • “I shall activate the turbo boost.”
  • “Call me ‘KITT,’ for short.”
  • “Your reflexes are slow.” [You’ve got to love a vehicle that rips on the lame action figure it comes with.]
  • “What is our next mission?”

Those brainy Kenner toy designers even thought ahead–back in those days, toys that made sounds often suffered when a new or old battery was used. If it was new, the voice sounded too fast and high-pitched; if it was old, the voice was low and slow. But KITT had a little switch on the bottom that let a child correct this: one setting to slow the voice down, another to speed it up.

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For a five-year-old kid, this was one heck of a cool toy. Yeah, the Michael Knight figure wasn’t the best, even by the standards of the day; but he wasn’t the important part of the set. KITT rocked.

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Comments now closed (13)

  • Pfft I was barely born at the beginning of 1983, but that aside…

    There is this little old store in downtown Laredo, half of it is plastic flowers and 99 cent store fare, the other half of it is knock off toys AND A MOUNTAIN OF DIE CAST SCALE VEHICLES.

    There is this 15 dollar die cast KITT covered in dust waiting for the day I have 3 five dollar bills, a one, and some change. They don't take debit card *weeps*

  • See… I associate William Daniels with St. Elsewhere, which ran concurrently with Knight Rider. I watched both and I'm sure he's never been as bad ass as he was as KITT. That said, if you take away Howie Mandel, a cast of Denzel Washington, David Morse, Mark Harmon and Ed Begley Jr. are much better than the Hof… okay, maybe take away the tree hugger too…

  • Ah, Knight Rider. Brings back the memories. I remember one episode where they were clearly trying to jump on the Transformers band wagon.

    In the episode, a criminal was broken out of prison by a tiny robot that originally was in the shape of a boom box. I believe it shot fire or acid to get the prisoner's cell open. Of course, it was no Soundwave, but it was cool at the time. I'm sure my reaction to that episode today would be quite different.

    I am looking forward to the new tv movie with Will Arnett as the voice of KITT.

  • While I used to watch that show constantly, the only things I remember about it now are:

    1.) That KITT was bulletproof;

    2.) The "turbo-boost"

    3.) That there was an "evil twin KITT" or something. And wasn't there an evil truck too?

  • I don't know if there was an evil truck on the show or not.

    But, now that you mention it, who would win in a fight between KITT and the truck from Maximum Overdrive?

    My money is on KITT.

  • Lets see… in 1983, I was still in diapers. I remember watching Knight Rider though. This def looks like a cool toy left over from the '80s.

    William Daniels will always be Mr. Feeny to me.

    Oh, and GOB as the new voice of KITT is awesome. I wonder if he's gonna do any magic tricks!

  • Yeah–my jokes at Mr. Knight's expense aside, this was one of the greatest toys I had growing up. Definitely up there with G1 Grimlock, He-Man and my Bandai Godzilla toys.

  • Val Kilmer? Wha-huh? Arnett was perfect! And what an idiotic reason! I hate capitalism. (Uh, I mean, I LOVE capitalism! Yay capitalism! Please don't send me to Gitmo…)

    Will Arnett has a cool voice, but Val Kilmer just has…a voice. Seriously, there are hundreds of voice actors whom they could get for practically nothing compared to Kilmer. That's just weird.