Turbo-Boosted Investment

1982 Pontiac Trans Am KITT
Sold at $66,000
Mecum Auctions, Harrisburg, PA, August 2–4, Lot S139

A few years back, I was reviewing cars at an auction for Sports Car Market with a couple of older friends when we happened upon a Knight Rider KITT conversion. Everyone else in my group laughed at it. I secretly wanted it.

Why? Because I was a kid in the 1980s, when David Hasselhoff was Michael Knight, and his jet-black Trans Am — KITT — helped him save the day every week. I loved everything about the talking car and the guy who drove it. Four-year-old me stayed up to see it. And I demanded my mother make me a jacket just like Knight’s. I persisted until she did it, and then I wore it until it didn’t fit anymore.

Maybe it’s a time and place sort of thing. As an adult, I’m not going to argue that the show was any good, but to a kid, it was. That’s why we continue to see cars like this bring big money at auctions traditionally dominated by serious collector cars. Once-impressionable kids who now have disposable income have made these cars serious. These buyers want a tactile item to go with their nostalgia. “The A-Team” van, “The Dukes of Hazzard” General Lee, the time-machine DeLorean and KITT are a new generation’s Barris-built 1960s Batmobiles.

This one was fully priced at $66k, but it also had a host of working features, just like what you would have seen on the show. It was reportedly built by someone who worked on the originals for the show. That, plus condition, count for a lot, so this price really didn’t surprise me that much. Building one to this level — if that’s your thing — isn’t cheap.

Someone wanted to own KITT badly, plain and simple. Whether it was a good buy really depends on your point of view, or maybe how old you were when Michael Knight was turbo-boosting his way across America’s living rooms.

Call this well sold to the mass market, but it was well bought to a smaller group of buyers looking to grasp their own history.

Images by Carol Duckworth, courtesy of Mecum Auctions

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