I remember when I first saw Knight Rider
. I thought the Trans-Am seemed quite exotic because it looked unconventional and futuristic compared to the everyday streetcars it drove by - I didn't even know it was even a production car at the time, certainly there were none where I lived! Surely destiny was on Mr Larson's side with that one, it was the prefect vehicle for the vision and was restyled fittingly to play the future car. I think it would be boring if a new Kitt looked too
much like an everyday car - this is the movies, he can afford to look a bit more different than he could get away with in real life, but still be more-or-less believable - that's artistic license, I believe.
I found KI3T more conventional than KI2T in some ways: partly the design, Mustang being a good modern-but-retro take, but not so relatively futuristic for the era - taking the car itself (sans transformation, etc) there wasn't the presence of a futuristic dash, or any constant indicator of its speciality really other than the red light, and possibly the interior screen etc - yet in that, KI2T's futuristic dash would have had a lot more impact in the 1980s, when that sort of gadgetry (computer technology) wasn't at all commonplace in cars, wheras now you can watch Pimp my Ride
and see all manner of screens and computers in a car. They clearly didn't worry too much about KI2T's subtety in 1982. So to me, KI3T didn't quite have the same 'je ne sais quoi' so to speak - it was nothing new, though it was a fine and fitting machine nonetheless for the character of this particular series. As for TKR, I was confused when I first saw it. The vehicles seemed very standard, and the voices somewhat detached. I didn't 'believe' it, if you like. The original Kitt also had the mystique of being unbadged - not once do you see an obvious Pontiac or Firebird logo, a much more subtle approach.
So for a new Kitt to work on the audience in original Knight Rider
fashion, its a tricky one. For a great movie, a current car of today with only subtle mods might not cut it, at least not with the same sharp edge of the original. You're also contending with the fact the concept has been used several times already, and even a fresh audience will have high expectation of a 'future car' and need something to engage them differently after being brought up on modified car shows and films like the Fast and the Furious
. Its clear that KI3T was designed to appeal to that audience, and with the tranformers reference too, but doesn't really assert itself as much different/unique in the same way the original Kitt and Knight Rider
did with the then audience.
Perhaps then it also depends on the story having the creative license to sustain it. In a technologically sophisticated world, something with quite a daring futuristic principle beneath
the skin, in a sense, could be needed - look at some of the more forward-thinking hypothetical tales of A.I. and artificial organisms, the ones based around synthetic life, albeit humanoid - the styling of the 'vehicle' might not be the whole crux of the issue, though could help to make or break it.
To design a new Knight Rider
, in the opinion a car/fx designer whose first inspiration was the tv show with the futuristic talking car, it would be like a holy grail - I hope whoever has this task has the perspicacity to hit the nail on the head and the context is also intelligent and imaginative enough to support it. It is a more complicated brief than some in the respect that it holds a lot of different hopes and ideas and expectations to be fulfilled. I am sure Knight Rider
hasn't run its course. For something with so much potential, it would be a shame to see it unable to push forward with the still-inspiring idea of human and A.I. vehicular companion - its our present day Western duo, the original being a show for kids and adults alike with its action and adventure, mystery and sci-fi magic, friendship and moral fibre. For movies, even if the result requires more subtlety than a batmobile, you can design far more imaginatively than the auto industry usually allows and a good fx shop will reskin a frame into anything - I'm not sure there is currently the perfect production car that says 'Kitt' and wouldn't seem an imitation or compromise, but I am sure that there is the potential for something brilliant and original whatever the constraints