It’s probably hard for younger readers to understand, but when the restyled Pontiac Firebird Trans Am debuted for the 1982 model year, it was off-the-hook awesome. Then came Knight Rider, which took the sleek shape and added a cool red light up front, weird engine sounds, and a freaking turbo boost button to jump anything at any time. It was so popular that Pontiac was inundated with people wanting to buy a version of the Trans Am used in the show.

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For some reason, instead of putting a special badge on a Trans Am and adding $5,000 to the price, Pontiac actually told the production company to not refer to the car as a Pontiac Trans Am. That’s why the original K.I.T.T. had absolutely no badging, and why the show seemingly went out of its way to avoid obvious product placement.

It’s a bit of terrible irony, then, that the rebooted 2008 Knight Rider series was nothing but obvious product placement – this time for Ford and its new 540-horsepower Mustang Shelby GT500KR, and possibly every other car the automaker built in 2008. In fact, we’re fairly certain there was some kind of secret contest among executives in Dearborn over what vehicle could get more screen time. Why else would you have a new Mustang Shelby “morph” into a freaking F-150 pickup? Or worse yet, change from a crime-fighting supercharged Mustang into a plebian V6 runabout?

It was an incredibly painful show to watch, even moreso for those of us who revered the original series. However, we’re about to twist the knife even deeper, because the main hero car used in the series – the black Shelby with the flaring red nostrils on the hood – was in fact a dressed-up V6 automatic. Really? Yeah, really.

Ford Mustang K.I.T.T. From Knight Rider
Ford Mustang K.I.T.T. From Knight Rider

We turn to Christopher Rutkowski – aka theAficionauto on YouTube – for the story. He spoke with Richard Morey, who owns the Mustang and yes, it was the actual on-screen car used for the non-action sequences and glamor shots. Morey is a Mustang fan and collector of tv memorabilia who happened upon the car at a Back to the Future auction of all places, and decided he had to have it. We have no idea what he paid, but yeah, the last K.I.T.T. made by Hollywood is a freaking V6 Mustang.

The video above tells the whole story, which is actually quite interesting. The car itself does look fantastic, and the video itself is automotive art. It’s still unfortunate though, that ten years down the road the never-should-have-happened Knight Rider reboot is still kicking us in the teeth. All might not be lost, however, as Rutkowski mentions yet another Knight Rider effort currently in the works. Whomever is in charge, please learn the valuable lessons from this Ford fiasco.

Source: theAFICIONAUTO via YouTube

Gallery: K.I.T.T. Shelby Mustang From Knight Rider

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