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Juha’s Knight Rider dashboard project

The second oldest Knight Rider page on the Web – Online since October 24, 1995
Featured on the official Knight Rider Season One DVD

Introduction

(You can also skip straight to the KITT dashboard images below.)

Note: You may not find this project very interesting or even very amusing unless you’re familiar with the American TV series “Knight Rider” from the mid-1980s. You can learn about the show, of course, by looking at the entry for “Knight Rider” in the Internet Movie Database, but you really have to see and experience it on television to appreciate what you will find on this page.

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by computers and gadgets. As you might guess, my favorite TV show was “Knight Rider” (“Ritari Ässä” in Finnish), thanks to the co-star, KITT – the super­computer-equipped Pontiac Trans Am ’82 that could talk and do stuff James Bond would never even dream of. Of course, the series seems silly today and looks very dated – but back then, watching it was pure bliss, at least for a kid with a single-digit age. I couldn’t notice – much less care – that the plots were hilariously idiotic or that most of the cast couldn’t act any better than the Trans Am. All that mattered was that KITT was the coolest thing on Earth.

(Image: photo of Yours Truly with Michael Knight)In 1987, the human star of “Knight Rider”, David Hasselhoff, visited Finland and I got to meet him in person. I also got his autograph: in the picture on the right, taken on January 16, 1987, I’m the kid in front of Hasselhoff, wearing a red shirt. To Hasselhoff’s right (our left) is the late Hessu Reijonen, the Finnish producer/entrepreneur whose specialty was bringing American TV stars to Finland. He started his career by doing business with Hasselhoff, who would later become a first-rate TV star, thanks to “Baywatch”.

Meeting the hero of “Knight Rider” was nice, but the real thrill was being able to see KITT, who was visiting Finland with Hasselhoff. The car turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment, though, as it was painfully obvious even to a small child that KITT’s voice was not the “real” one but that of a cheap impostor! Did they think I would be that gullible?

After “Knight Rider” was cancelled, my interest in the series slowly faded away, especially after the last episodes were aired in Finland in the summer of 1987. Still, “Knight Rider” was an important part of my childhood, so I occasionally go back and watch an episode on DVD. In retrospect, the show looks rather silly, but it’s been very interesting to revisit the massive amount of drawings that I had made of KITT – and especially of its dashboard – as a kid.

Somehow, the dash board of KITT had always interested me. Back in the mid-1980’s, when I was still in the first grade, I had studied dozens upon dozens of freeze-frame images of “Knight Rider” episodes to meticulously document the positions, colors and labels of buttons, readouts and displays on the KITT console. Back in those days, drawing pictures of the dash, either on the screen of my home computer or on paper, was one of my favorite pastimes.

Years after “Knight Rider” had become passé, I decided to study my old drawings again. I used DeluxePaint Enhanced – a popular paint program in the early 1990s – to create digital images of KITT’s dashboard console, first in 1991 and again in 1995. Seven years later, in 2002, I finally decided to do what I had been planning to do for fifteen years: I took it upon myself to create the definitive version of the “Knight Rider” dash on my computer and display the results here on my home page.

This project did garner some attention. In 2004, one of the drawings ended up on the official “Knight Rider” Season One DVD as part of an extra feature called “KITT Owner’s Manual”. For this purpose, I actually created a new, improved drawing of the Season 1/2 dash so that the DVD would feature a completely accurate rendering of the original KITT dashboard. I would like to thank Universal Studios and their associates for the professional and courteous manner in which they cooperated with me.


The Knight Rider dashboard pictures

The images are presented in reverse chronological order. As stated above, the drawings from 2002/2004 are the most accurate – dare I say, the ultimate – reproductions of the original dashboard.

Note that in the pictures from 1991 and 1995, everything – including the fonts – has been drawn by manually placing pixels on the screen with a paint program and a mouse. The 1986 drawings were created by plotting lines on the screen with a digital joystick. The 1984 pictures are some of the very first ones I did with pen and paper.

My final dashboard drawings

© 2002, 2004 Juha Terho – Redistribution prohibited without
express prior consent from the author and Universal Studios

“Knight Rider” and pertinent designs and trademarks
© & ™ 1982, 1986 Universal Studios

(Thumbnail: KITT dash, 2004)
KITT’s dashboard from Seasons 1 and 2 (2004)
Featured on the official Knight Rider Season One DVD

3712 × 1207 pixels, 256 colors, 82kB
Created with Microsoft Word 2002 and Paint Shop Pro 8

(Thumbnail: KITT dash, 2002)
KITT’s dashboard from Seasons 3 and 4 (2002)

2617 × 872 pixels, 256 colors, 48kB
Created with Microsoft Word 2000 and Paint Shop Pro 5

Older KITT dash pictures by me

© 1984, 1986, 1991, 1995 Juha Terho

(Thumbnail: KITT's dash, Season 1)
KITT’s dashboard from Seasons 1 and 2 (1995)

2860 × 568 pixels, 16 colors, 15kB
Created with DeluxePaint Enhanced

(Thumbnail: KITT's dash, Season 3)
KITT’s dashboard (incomplete) from Seasons 3 and 4 (1991)

1299 × 417 pixels, 16 colors, 6kB
Created with DeluxePaint Enhanced

(Thumbnail: KITT's dash, Season 3)
KITT’s dashboard from Seasons 3 and 4 (1986)

160 (320) × 200 pixels, 16 colors, 1kB
Created with “Screen Designer” on the Amstrad CPC 6128

(Thumbnail: KITT's dash, Season 1)
KITT’s dashboard from Seasons 1 and 2 (1986)

160 (320) × 200 pixels, 16 colors, 2kB
Created with “Screen Designer” on the Amstrad CPC 6128

(Thumbnail: primitive dash drawing, Season 1)
KITT’s dashboard from Seasons 1 and 2 (1984)

Created with pen, paper and crayons

(Thumbnail: primitive dash drawing, Season 1)
KITT’s dashboard from Seasons 1 and 2 (1984)

Created with pen, paper and red crayon
(the voice modulator could be “animated” by rotating
a jury-rigged paper-and-Scotch-tape concoction attached underneath)


Some frequently asked questions (with answers)

What are the fonts used on the KITT dash?
I have identified the typefaces that were used for the original dashboards. The main typefaces for the first dash are Microgramma and Microgramma Bold (or alternatively, Eurostile Extended and Eurostile Bold Extended). In addition, some displays use Eurostile Bold and some buttons use Futura Bold. The second dash relies mostly on Alternate Gothic. I have used these fonts in the 2002/2004 versions of the drawings above.
Could you send me copies of the fonts you used?
Sorry, but fonts are protected by copyright. You can buy the required fonts at MyFonts.
Do you have any other information for those who want to create a dash reproduction of their own?
Here are some font-related tips, as choosing the correct fonts seems to be the main stumbling block for most creators of dash reproductions, including the professionals. The buttons in the “Turbo Boost” and “P ENG” panels of the Season 1/2 dash use a mixture of Microgramma and Futura. For example, the “P” in “P ENG” should be Microgramma Bold, while the “ENG” should be Futura Bold. The 3rd/4th Season dash uses Alternate Gothic for the most part, but you will need to use some variant of Helvetica (or a lookalike font) for the “INLET °F,” “EGT °F,” “FUEL GALS,” “OIL °F,” “OIL PSI” and “FUEL FLOW GPH” labels. Do not use Alternate Gothic or Arial for them. Take note that Arial is nowhere to be found on the original dashboards.
If the 2002/2004 drawings are supposed to be exact reproductions of the actual dashboards, then why are some buttons, such as “Super Pursuit Mode”, missing?
Some buttons, such as the “Super Pursuit Mode”, “Auto Door” and “Voice Projection” buttons, did not actually exist on the dashboard. Basically all shots of the dashboard were filmed on a soundstage, and shots of the buttons in question were apparently nothing but close-ups of separate small panels that weren’t attached anywhere. Note that the “Surveillance Mode” gadget does not exist on the Season 3/4 dash. This is because that version of the dashboard did not include “Surveillance Mode” at all. Whenever it was required, stock footage from the two earlier seasons was used instead.
What about the buttons in the roof and elsewhere? What about KITT’s chemical analyzer?
In my opinion, they aren’t included in the concept of a “dash”. Only those buttons and panels that can be seen in the 2002/2004 drawings are what I consider to belong to the KITT dash.
Why are there small differences in the placement of certain buttons and in the fonts used?
The exact details of KITT’s dash kept changing throughout the run of the show. These include, among other things, the labels and the location of the function buttons in the “Turbo Boost” panels and the font used for “MPH” and “RPM” in the Season 1/2 dash. A noteworthy discrepancy is the maximum value of “MAIN OIL PRESS”, which was either 30 or 90, depending on the episode. In the 2002/2004 drawings, I have attempted to recreate the most typical configuration of the buttons and labels of the original dashboards.
Are there any interesting sources of information regarding the dash?
The book Knight Rider Legacy: The Unofficial Guide to the Knight Rider Universe by Joe Huth IV and Richie F. Levine (Writers Club Press 2002, ISBN 0-595-23910-2) includes an interview with the original designer of KITT, Michael Scheffe (pages 57–75 in the second version of the book).
What is the point of all this?
I wanted to finish what I had started. I have dozens of “eternity projects” that I usually have no time to work on. Whenever I manage to find a bit of spare time – and if I’m in the mood – I will try to work on those projects. Drawing the “ultimate” reproduction of KITT’s dash was one of those unfinished projects for fifteen years. Now it has been completed.
When did you put the pictures on the Web?
This page has been online since October 24, 1995, which makes this the second oldest existing “Knight Rider” page on the Web. The only one that is older is Knight Rider Online.
How long did it take to create the drawings?
For the 2002/2004 versions of the dash, about three hours per picture. I had done all the background research (i.e., studying freeze-frames of episodes) when I was about eight years old, so all I had to do was to redraw my old sketches of the dashboard.
Did you really draw the pictures using Word?
Yes, I did. I used the drawing tools of Word 2000 (2002) to create most of the elements of the dash. I then used Paint Shop Pro 5 (8) for compositing and fine-tuning. It wasn’t the most elegant solution, but it was the quickest one and got the job done very nicely. If I wanted to redraw the images now, I would probably create a vector version using MetaPost or just write raw PostScript and then distill that into PDF. However, that would entail dealing with intellectual property issues with regard to the fonts used. In addition, it would be a somewhat tedious exercise – not to mention rather superfluous in nature. As far as I’m concerned, my dashboard project has been completed.
How can the image files be so small?
Through careful PNG optimization.
Can I use the pictures on my web page?
Sorry, but the answer is no. Feel free to link to this page, though.
What did you think of the DVDs?
My review is available on a separate page.
Can you help me find some bootleg “Knight Rider” material? Can you help me build a replica of the KITT dash? Do you sell spare parts for old Trans Ams?
No, no and no. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to answer questions like this. You’ll need to look elsewhere on the Web. I don’t want to provide any specific links here because they’ll become obsolete sooner or later. Why don’t you try a search engine such as Google to find what you’re looking for?
Do you have any interesting “Knight Rider” anecdotes?
Indeed I do! At the beginning of my first English lesson ever, in the third grade, the teacher asked the classroom (in Finnish, of course) if anyone knew any English. Other kids were familiar with basic phrases like “My name is Mikko” and “How are you?”, but I blurted out “I am the Knight Industries Two Thousand. My serial number is Alpha Delta 227529. I am unauthorized to allow access to my Central Processing Unit.” Boy, did that get a reaction!
What are your favorite episodes?
“Soul Survivor” (from which the previous quote was), “Trust Doesn’t Rust” and “K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R.”
When was “Knight Rider” originally broadcast in Finland?
The first run was from January 1984 to August 1987. For more information, see the complete list of “Knight Rider” air dates in Finland in the 1980’s (available in Finnish only).
Is there anything else on your home page that might be interesting?
Yes, but most of it is in Finnish. My English pages include more drawings and a computer game created by me.

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