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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Ever Happened to "Junk Yard Dog's" Acid K.I.T.T.?

As many of you may recall, "Junk Yard Dog" featured K.I.T.T.'s shell being pulled from an acid pit. This car was devoid of any interior pieces. One might think that this was an old stunt car that was given one last hurrah before being sent to the scrap heap. But in reality, this very car would be transformed into a very important piece of Knight Rider's future. Read On...

Before we reveal that, let's take a look at the details seen on this car through screen grabs from the episode. It provides some very revealing clues as to how this Trans Am was originally optioned:

1.       Universal Studios key chain
2.       Brake Line Lock Foot Switch
3.       Power Door Lock Relay
4.       Power Door Lock Wiring
5.       Power Window Motor
6.       Vent Blocked Off?
7.       Cruise Control
8.       Manual Side Mirrors

1.       Locking Hood Release. This can also be seen (barely) in the previous image.


1.       Because the plugs are here, this car had the Remote Hatch Release, Rear Defrost and either Rear Wiper or Premium Sound options.


1.       Cutout for Manual Transmission


1.       The style of T-top latches seen here are the 1982-83 hook style, and not the later 84-up peg style. This car is either a 1982 or 1983 model.


No engine in the engine bay!

OK, enough analysis. Now, for the big reveal. At the conclusion of "Junk Yard Dog" filming, this car sat untouched for over a year. It was then sent to George Barris' shop where it was converted to the close-up hydraulic Super Pursuit Mode car!

The hydraulic SPM car is the one you see in close-ups actually transforming. They would show this car transforming and then cut away to the full-time, drivable SPM car. The hydraulic car had no interior and no engine (sound familiar?)

The Knight Rider Historians stumbled upon a post on a fishing message board (of all things!) that provided the missing link, which are the pictures below (supplied by Dennis Braid, one of the men responsible for building the cars). Incidentally, that post can be found here, which includes other great SPM and convertible construction shots:

This photo was taken at George Barris’ shop sometime between May 22, 1985 and July 20, 1985. Note the folding chair in the driver’s side. This car will soon become the close-up hydraulic SPM car.


1.       Note how the paint runs match up with the screencap, especially the “dip” to the right of the handle.

2.       It appears the rear bumper is partially melted, most likely from the insert shot of K.I.T.T. on fire. Both the fire and the burn marks are on the driver’s side. Note in the screencap that the blackout is missing (see larger image below). Even though the scene where K.I.T.T. backfires is AFTER K.I.T.T. has been re-primed, the insert shot is clearly from BEFORE his body was fixed.

3.       The paint imperfections in the lower part of the door match as well.


In this shot, you can see the mechanism behind the lower spoiler that drops from K.I.T.T.’s trunk when in Super Pursuit Mode. Note the “Acid K.I.T.T.” rear bumper is still attached.

 Unfortunately, after the series concluded, this car disappeared and is rumored to have been crushed.