Knight Rider, Neon Soul


Somewhere in the saturday evenings of the eighties, I was led to believe that cars could have soul. But the sort of soul that I imagined wasn’t the cod-mystic, seventies-bred abstract quirkiness of Herbie. No sir. In the eighties, our friends were electric and my ideal sidekick on wheels was motored by electronic technology.

And know this. The Hoff, AKA Michael Knight (undercover Las Vegas cop and brawn behind the crime fighting Knight industries empire and special sort of law-enforcement agent thingy and human ‘master’ of the car known as KITT) – was never cool in my eyes. Skin tight stonewash and dark bouffant would never be hip in this cultural quarter – it was his car that was cool.

And how about that car? Kitt (the moniker was a of Knight Industries Two Thousand was a souped up, tricked out version of a 1982 Trans Am: and his computer technology allowed him to roam free and wide foiling plans of world domination by a variety of bad guys, but also to develop a strangely homoerotic attachment to the Hoffmeister himself.

The vibe between the Hoff and his cyber-friend was similar to that other icon of eighties cheese Magnum’s odd relationship with his posh butler. Kitt’s was voiced by the vaguely camp yet authoritative William Daniels who played the role as a slightly patronising, snooty logician. Kitt was Mr Spock to Hasselhof’s Captain Kirk – whose tempestuous human emotions and instinctive physicality were foil to the calculated analysis of the machine.

When you look at the array of technology on offered in the higher end of the executive saloon market, it’s not a million miles away from the Kitt’s ample quiver of capabilities. Your Audi A8 may not have ‘optimum pursuit mode’ but it does have adaptive cruise control, intelligent suspension and interactive satellite navigation. Your new XJ might not have ‘follow me home’ technology, but it does have a full TFT display and enough parking sensors to build a pretty accurate picture of the world around it.

The world we imagine is the world we come to inhabit. Stop imagining that stonewash.