If you were a child of the 1980s, or are just a fan of very-late-night cable television, then you've most likely seen Michael Knight (played by a pre-Baywatch David Hasselhoff) and his chatty supercar sidekick, KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), do battle with bad guys on the small-screen action-adventure show Knight Rider.

At first glance, KITT appeared to be a sporty 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, fresh off the assembly line. But thanks to a little Hollywood razzle-dazzle, the car transformed into a virtually indestructible machine—possessed with advanced artificial intelligence that allowed it to accept voice control commands, interact with "The Hoff" and make decisions on its own. In fact, the car's AI was so advanced that KITT formed a kind of personality, which is what has endeared the "car" to millions of auto geeks in a way the Batmobile never could be. But when the show was shelved in 1986, so was KITT.

Last week, NBC unveiled an all-new, controversial KITT, which is set to star in the made-for-TV Knight Rider movie in February. Based on the still-to-be-released Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR (click here for engine-revving video), this virtual Stang comes tricked out with a supercomputer that can hack almost any system; a very capable weapons system; and a body—thanks to nanotechnology—that's able to shape-shift and change color at will. Like its predecessor, the 21st century KITT gets AI from digital effects wizards that makes it an ideal crime-fighting partner: logical, precise and infinitely smart.

Designer Harald Belker, who has created the Batmobile for Batman and Robin and a next-gen space shuttle for Armageddon, came onboard to give the new KITT. a unique look. "The goal was to make it look more aggressive without being hokey or garish," Belker says. "Maintaining as much of the original beauty of the Shelby as possible was important—and not just because of the Ford connection. It had to be simple yet believable as a superhero." Once his vision was set, Belker turned to Ted Moser from Picture Car Warehouse to make his drawings come to life. But there was one big hurdle: The GT500KR doesn't technically exist quite yet. "So we had to finish their design first," Moser says. "Then we brought in a prop maker to create side skirts and spoilers out of wood, smooth them out, and sent them to a fiberglass shop to make molds. Once the parts are formed from those molds, we finish them and attach them to the car."

One of the cooler features of the Mustang KITT is air-ride suspension, which allows its driver to lower the car's ride height when the vehicle morphs from Hero to Attack mode. "When it goes on the offensive, it gets slammed to the ground," Moser chuckles. Very aggressive, indeed. There will be three models used in filming: Hero (essentially a stock GT500KR); Attack (the tricked-out model); and Remote Control (operated via RC, obviously). "All of the `transforming' will be done through CGI animation like in the Transformers movie," Moser admits.
For all you Trans Am holdouts, Mustang droolers and Hasselhoff haters, here's the very first look at all of the new KITT's gee-whiz specs and functionality, matched up to the original to determine which is better equipped for Hollywood crime-fighting.

KITT vs. KITT Spec Breakdown!

KNIGHT INDUSTRIES TWO THOUSAND:                              
1982 Pontiac Trans Am


Vehicle Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive,                 
two-door coupe                                                             
Engine Type: Knight Industries turbojet with                  
modified afterburners                                                    
Transmission: Eight-speed microprocessor                      
turbodrive with autopilot                                                
Price New: $11,400,000 (est.)                                       
Acceleration: 0 to 60 mph: 0.2 seconds with                 
power boosters. Standing quarter mile: 4.286                   
Braking (70 to 0 mph): 14 ft.                                      
Fuel Economy: Classified, but thought to be                    
200 mpg 




KNIGHT INDUSTRIES THREE   THOUSAND:                              
2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 KR ******************************

Vehicle Type: Front engine, on-demand all-
wheel drive, two-door coupe
Engine Type: Aluminum block/titanium heads
5.4-liter V8 internal combustion with Whipple
supercharger and Knight Industries liquid air
cycle auxiliary turbine engine. 540 hp in Hero
mode. Power output can't be measured in
Attack mode.
Transmission: Continuously variable
transmission with infinite power band
Price New: $45.6 million, as tested
Acceleration: 0 to 60 mph: 1.77 seconds.
Standing quarter mile: 3.87 seconds
Braking (300 to 0 mph): 12 ft.
Fuel Economy: Not testable






Version 1.0 Knight Industries 2000 microprocessor Version 2.3
Yes Auto Cruise Yes
Yes Auto Pursuit Yes
Yes Auto Collision Avoidance Yes
Yes Voice Interaction Yes
Yes Emergency Eject Yes
No Audio/Video In-Dash Functions Yes
No Radar Yes
No Sonar Yes
Yes X-Ray Yes
Yes Autopilot Yes
Yes Voice Analyzer Yes
Yes Infrared Tracking Scope Yes
10 miles Range 20 miles
Yes Pyroclastic Lamination Yes
Yes Blood Analyzer Yes
Yes Microwave Jammer Yes
Yes Interior Oxygenator Yes
Yes Rocket Boosters Yes
Yes Smokescreen Yes
Yes Olfactory Detector Yes
Yes Spectrograph Yes
Yes Electromagnetic Field Generator Yes
Yes Microwave Ignition Sensor Yes
Yes Aquatic Synthesizer Yes
Yes Electronic Field Disrupter Yes
Yes Ultra Magnesium Charges Yes
Yes Ultraphonic Chemical Analyzer Yes
Yes Graphic Translator Yes
Yes Anamorphic Equalizer Yes
No DNA Analysis Equipment Yes
No Mass Spectrometer Yes
No Targeted Electromagnetic Pulse Yes
No Military-Grade GPS Yes
No Heated Seats Yes
Yes Grappling Hook No
Yes Oil Jets No
Yes Flame Thrower No
No 3D Heads-Up Display Yes
No Laser Weapons System Yes
No Holographic Projection Yes
No Keyless Entry and Ignition Yes
No Personal Safety System Yes
No Nanotech Cloaking Yes
No 360-Degree Video Surveillance Yes
No Laser-Guided Missile Defense Yes
No Mini-KITT Reconnaissance Drone Yes
No 24-Hour Roadside Assistance Yes
No 1000-Watt Quadraphonic Stereo System Yes
No In-Seat Medical Diagnosis Yes
No Biometric Analysis Yes