What better way to leave 2020 in a time machine! Here’s a time-lapse assembly clip of the Playmobil Back to the Future DeLorean DMC 12 with Marty McFly, Doc Emmett Brown, as well as Einstein the dog. Happy new year to everyone!
Hey guys, wishing everyone a happy 2020! I sincerely hope that it’s gonna be a great year for everyone reading this post….and beyond, of course. 🙂
Over the Christmas holidays I’ve been thinking a bit how I want to continue with my MotorScotti YouTube and social media presence. The video says it all. I’m looking forward to making lots more useful and entertaining content with regards to cars, motorcycles and anything connected to wheels and engines. Stay tuned, Carl
Good Festival of Speed!!! 2019 year is the year I finally seized to opportunity to attend it. Well, my fiancée gave me tickets as my Christmas present 2018 🙂 and off we went. it was an amazing experience; from the trip through the south of England, our airBnB host and of course the Festival of Speed itself. I can highly recommend it. Long story short, I’ll let you watch the video down below rather than writing a novel.
You made it possible!
So my MotorScotti YouTube channel just reached 1’000 subscribers! What I started with a fairly modest short clip of my Yamaha XVS Drag Star 1100 motorcycles has gone through being a model car review channel to becoming a DIY how to repair and modification channel about cars in general and mores specifically the Peugeot RCZ. As mention in my channel update video, it’s time to move on to the next chapter with the Pontiac Firebird KITT project.
Over the years I have received a loads of constructive and positive feedback from all of the viewers and I am really greatful for your support! I enjoy documenting my little automotive and mechanical projects and share it with the world to help others who are looking for the information I provide and simply show that with a little bit of dedication you can do it, too! At you own risk, of course!! :-p
Anyway, this is just the beginning of a lot more to come. Thank you for your continuous support and stay tuned!! 🙂
History of the car
The Porsche 997 model generation was launched in 2004 and was on sale till the end of 2012. This “Turbo Cabriolet” or convertible model, was part of the first generation 997, before it got a major overhaul in July 2008. Porsche officially launched the 997 Turbo in June 2006. The convertible version was introduced a little bit more than a year later, in September 2007. It is powered by a 3.6 L six cylinder boxer engine with a biturbo charger with variable turbo geometry, generating an output of 480 hp with 620 Nm. The overboost function even allows it to get up to 680 Nm for a brief period of time. Since this is an all-wheel-drive car, the massive power output is distributed to all four wheels. Due to the obvious lack of a fixed roof, the cabriolet’s chassis had to be strengthened, adding 70 kg compared to the coupé.
Let’s look at the exterior of the car. This particular one is painted in Macadamia metallic, the official paint you would get on your 1/1 size car. As every Porsche, it comes with the Porsche crest on the front of the trunk. The “Turbo” distinguishes itself from the standard Carrera with a more bulky, muscular front bumper, side air intakes and a big rear spoiler. Moreover, like on the “Carrera 4S” I reviewed previously, none of the lights are actually functioning on this car. Nevertheless, the turn signal and day time running lights are clearly distinguishable. Furthermore, it comes with the German license plate in the back and the front: “S CT 911”, with “S” for “Stuttgart”. In traditional Porsche fashion, the fuel filler cap is located on the right front fender. However, it doesn’t open and is simply shaped into the body.
The wheels are a nice replica of the 19” “Turbo” items. They have tire profile, as well as markings on the wall: “Michelin Pilot Sport” with the traditional Michelin logo and the tire size inscription: 235/35 ZR 19 for the front tires and 295/30 ZR 19 for the rear tires. Sadly, NOREV made the same mistake as on the “Carrera 4S”, wearing the wider body as the standard “Carrera”, it should have the larger 305/30 ZR 19 sized tires in the back. Nevertheless, the rear tires are effectively larger than the front ones. Anyway, the rims are perfectly replicated and do each have a Porsche logo in the center. Looking behind the wheels we can admire the replica of the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) consisting of ventilated brake disks and yellow brake calipers with “Porsche” written on them. All of the wheels are turning and the front ones are directional and connected to the steering wheel. The lower body protection lip that follows the entire side of the car is accurately replicated as well.
The door handles are accurately modelled. Being “pull-out” handles, it would have been nice to be able to grab the handle completely, but since it forms a single piece with the door as on other NOREV Porsches of this generation, it’s understandable that NOREV just gave it the overall shape molded into the door. In the back, as mentioned before, one big difference to the standard “Carrera” is the massive rear spoiler. On the real car it even rises further up at 75 mph / 120 km/h. We can even spot the center brake light. The lower part of the back bumper follows the same muscular treatment as the front one: large air outlets on either side, as well as large oval shaped exhaust pipes embedded into the bumper. In fact, the only thing that resembles the standard Carrera are the taillights. Moreover, the model lettering “Turbo” is nicely put just above the bar. The attention to details is very high. This being the convertible version, I can add that the roof goes up in 20 seconds. However, on this model, it’s just a cover, it doesn’t actually move.
Time to look at the flat six boxer engine. Similar to the “Carrera 4S”, there is not a huge amount of things we can see from above, even less. But what’s there is very detailed. As a matter of fact, the only thing we can clearly see is the air intake system. Notice how it says “Turbo” and “Porsche” on it – it’s those details that make it worth having it. On the inside of the hood, NOREV went as far to reproduce the ventilator. Now let’s open the front trunk. Under the front cover is where you would find the windshield washer fluid tank and under the “Porsche” cover is where the battery would be. Contrary to the “Carrera 4S”, the “Turbo” version has the CD changer on the right hand side, thus taking some space from the trunk load capacity. Very nice touch, even the inner side of the trunk lid shows the original frame shape.
Again, you might think that it’s quite cheaply made with that completely covered undercarriage. However, since the 997 came with a completely covered undercarriage for better protection and enhanced aerodynamics, this is actually quite accurate. Only the engine is clearly visible. With the exception of the exhaust pipes and mufflers, the undercarriage is completely identical to NOREV’s “Carrera 4S”. Although they are hardly visible, the suspensions do actually work! The chassis is bolted to the body with 10 screws – four in the front, two in the middle and four in the back. The Porsche brand and model designations are clearly visible in the middle, as well as the NOREV logo between the front wheels. The most interesting part is without a doubt the rear, showing the transmission in all black, the flat six engine in grey, as well as the entire exhaust system in chrome. At last, we get a proper view of the 3.6 L flat six engine.
Right on the door sill we are greeted will the “Turbo” lettering. This one comes in a very nice two color interior: sand beige with a black upper dashboard. The interior comes complete with a three spoke sport steering wheel with the compulsory Porsche crest in the middle. In front of the steering wheel we find the chrome accented instrument cluster with the rev counter in the middle and the ignition on the left side of the steering wheel, just next to the light switch.
This being a manual transmission version, we can see the gear lever with the six forward gears and reverse gear positions on it. The pedals are accurate, too: accelerator, brake and clutch. There is just an unusual big gap between the brake and the clutch pedal.
The seats are meant to replicate the fully adjustable sports seats. However, they do no move, nor can you tilt them forward. With the visible stitching, they are supposed to imitate the leather wrap, but everything in here is plastic, obviously. Furthermore, the levers to tilt the seats forward, as well as the hook behind the headrests are painted in silver. Good thing this is the convertible version, so we are able to get a very close and clean look at the interior. It has four seatbelts, the corresponding buckles and even a clearly distinguishable hand brake lever.
The doors have the exact shape and colors of the real car. It’s nice to see NOREV integrated the window switches for both driver and passenger side, as well as accurately replicated the bi color interior from front to back. The center console does integrate the Porsche Communication Management system (PCM) with all the buttons on the side. It is not quite as precisely done as on the following generation in the “Carrera 4S” I reviewed previously, but it’s still a very good job. The glove compartment does not open, but the handle is painted and does include a lock. Even the leather stitching on the dashboard has been replicated to perfection. Looking up, we can spot both sun visors, the rear view mirror, as well as the handle to lock the retractable roof.
The officially licensed Porsche model cars usually come in a very sober, grey box. In the front we get a simple model designation “911 Turbo Cabriolet” in the official Porsche font, as well as the scale indication. On the top, it simply says “Porsche” – no need to say more. The special thing about any packaging of official licensed Porsche model cars, is the fact that every model gets a distinctive VIN number. On this box, it is located on the side. On the bottom, you can read a brief product description in six different languages, as well as the logos and designations of Porsche and NOREV.
Back on the road
This 997 “Turbo Cabriolet” is a wonderful 1/18 replica of the original car. Obviously, there is still room for imprpovement, such as installing a rectractable cloth roof abd adding diodes for the lights, but other than that it’s very accurate and deserve to be an official Porsche licensed product. enjoy!
Porsche, for some a simple German surname. For others, it’s a byword for precision driving, exceptional road handling, a signature styling and unparalleled reliability. Here’s a review about the facelifted 997 “Carrera 4S”.
History of the car
The Porsche 997 model generation was launched in 2004 and was on sale till the end of 2012. In July 2008, starting with the 2009 model year designation, it was given a major overhaul and not just a facelift. Aside from the usual tweaks on the front and rear fascias with LED day time running lights in the front and full LED taillight, the 2009 and following models came with slightly bigger side mirrors.
However, the biggest changes were to find under the skin: a brand new Direct Fuel Injection 3.6 L six cylinder rear mounted boxer engine that produces 345 hp (390 Nm) in the standard Carrera, Carrera 4 and Targa 4 versions. The sportier versions – the Carrera S, 4S and Targa 4S were given an 3.8 L DFI engine that produces 385 hp and delivers 420 Nm of torque. These engines could either be coupled to a manual 6 speed transmission or to the second major improvement this generation: the now much acclaimed 7 speed double-clutch automatic transmission called PDK for Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (Porsche double-clutch transmission).
This particular one is painted in Porsche Racing Green metallic, the official paint you would get on your 1/1 size car. As every Porsche, it comes with the Porsche crest on the front of the trunk. The front air intakes are painted grey, indicating that it is a four-wheel drive version, hence the “4” in “Carrera 4S”. None of the lights are actually functioning on this car. Nevertheless, the turn signal and day time running lights are clearly distinguishable. Clean job. This being the German or simply the European version, it’s wearing the mandatory front and rear German license plate “S XO 911”, with “S” for “Stuttgart”. They even integrated the hexagonal insurance sticker on it – solid! In typical Porsche fashion, the fuel filler cap is located on the right front fender. This one doesn’t open, though.
The wheels on this model are a beautiful replica of the 19” “Carrera IV” items. Not only do they have tire profile on them, they even have all the markings on the wall: “Michelin Pilot Sport” with the traditional Michelin logo and the tire size inscription: 235/35 ZR 19 for the front tires and 295/30 ZR 19 for the rear tires. Sadly, this is a little mistake, considering that it’s a 4S model and therefore should have the larger 305/30 ZR 19 sized tires in the back. Nevertheless, the rear tires are effectively larger than the front ones.
Looking behind the wheels we can admire the sport brakes consisting of ventilated brake disks and red brake calipers with “Porsche” written on them. All of the wheels are turning and the front ones are directional and connected to the steering wheel. The lower body protection lip that follows the entire side of the car is accurately replicated as well. The door handles are accurately modelled. Being “pull-out” handles, it would have been nice to be able to grab the handle completely, but since it forms a single piece with the door, it’s understandable that Norev just gave it the overall shape molded into the door.
One noticeable change compared to the previous model year are the side mirrors. They are slightly bigger. First of all, Norev did a good job replicating the mirrors as such and not make them look detached as some lower budget manufacturers do. Secondly, if you compare it to a previous model 997, you can clearly see the difference: it’s actually a bit taller than the previous one. As we get to the back of the car, we can see the newly shaped LED taillights. Compared to the previous model year, they have been redesigned in the front and back, giving them a sharper look. We can clearly distinguish between the red outer part for tail and brake light, as well as the white & yellow inner part for the turn signal and reverse light.
Another new or should I say re-introduced trademark of the all-wheel-drive “4” and “4S” models is the horizontal red bar connecting both taillights. It is glued to the trunk so be careful when opening it. Moreover, the model letterings “Carrera 4S” are nicely put just above the bar. We can also see the rear retractable spoiler that would come up automatically at 75 mph / 120 km/h. Obviously, this one is just engraved in the body and doesn’t come up at all. Nevertheless, the attention to details is very high, they even thought of integrating the center brake light, as well as the Porsche lettering on the lower part of the rear window. The exhaust pipes are accurately replicated: Two twin exhaust mufflers, another indicator for the more powerful “S” variant.
Before we take a look at the power plant, I just wanted to show you the windscreen wipers. They are really well replicated – showing even the holes in the frame that holds the rubber.
As mentioned before, like any 911 ever made, this one has the engine in the back. Thus, the hood is in the back and the trunk in the front. There is actually not a huge amount of things we can see from above, but what’s there is very detailed. Aside from the coolant reservoir we can see the oil cap and the entire air intake system. Notice how it says “Porsche Direct Fuel Injection” – very accurate. On the hood, Norev went as far to reproduce the ventilator. So far this car is complete – that’s what we like to see!
For those who wonder what’s in the front, let’s just open it up. As you can see it’s just the front trunk or frunk as some tend to say. Under the front cover is where you would find the windshield washer fluid tank and under the “Porsche” cover is where the battery would be. Nicely replicated though, even the inner side of the trunk lid shows the original frame shape.
At first glance you might think that it’s quite cheaply made with that completely covered undercarriage. But you’d be wrong. As a matter of fact, the 997 came with a completely covered undercarriage for better protection and enhanced aerodynamics. Only the engine is clearly visible. Although they are hardly visible, the suspensions do actually work – excellent! The chassis is bolted to the body with 10 screws – four in the front, two in the middle and four in the back. The Porsche brand and model designations are clearly visible in the middle, as well as the Norev logo between the front wheels. The most interesting part is without a doubt the rear, showing the transmission in all black, the flat six engine in grey, as well as the entire exhaust system in chrome. At last, we get a proper view of the 3.8 L flat 6 engine.
Right on the door sill we are greeted will the “Carrera 4S” lettering. The all sand beige interior comes complete with a three spoke sport steering wheel. In front of the steering wheel we find the chrome accented instrument cluster with the rev counter in the middle, of course and the ignition on the left side of the steering wheel, just next to the light switch.
The steering wheel has the compulsory Porsche crest in the middle, multifunction buttons for the hands free phone system, as well as the push and pull buttons to change the gears of the aforementioned 7 speed PDK double-clutch transmission. Further proof of that are the gas and brake pedals only, as well as the signature PDK gear selector.
The seats are meant to replicate the fully adjustable sports seats. However, they do no move, nor can you tilt them forward. With the visible stitching, they are supposed to imitate the leather wrap, but everything in here is plastic, obviously. The attention to details is just amazing and for once, we do get seatbelts! The doors have the exact shape and colors of the real car. It’s nice to see Norev integrated the window switches for both driver and passenger side.
The center console does integrate the new Porsche Communication Management system (PCM), which introduced the touch screen at Porsche. There is the slot to put the SD card in and all the buttons are visible and painted separately. The glove compartment does not open, but the handle is painted and does include a lock. Even the leather stitching on the dashboard has been replicated to perfection. Looking up, we can spot both sun visors, the rear view mirror, as well as the little compartment for the sun glasses – magnificent!
The special thing about any packaging of official licensed Porsche model cars is the fact that every model gets a distinctive VIN number. Unfortunately, I do not have the original box of this car anymore, so all I can do is give you a glimpse of this 2008 Porsche 997 “Turbo”’s packaging. Check out that car’s review and you’ll get to find out about the packaging as well!
Back on the road
This is an officially Porsche licensed model car. Norev basically had no choice making it right. The only thing they could have made better are the front seats. It would have been nice to have a tiltable backrest. This Porsche 997 “Carrera 4S” is a beautiful collectors item to own and I can recommend it to anyone.
This second part of the “K.I.T.T. & K.A.R.R.” ERTL model cars review – a focus on the 1/25 and 1/64 scale models. Contrary to the 1/18 models I’ve reviewed in part 1, these cars were actually produced in 1982 when the TV show started.
Let’s start with the exterior of the 1/25 car. Contrary to the 1/18 models, this one is much more basic. The only parts that do open are the doors. In fact let’s take a closer look at them: You can clearly see that the doors are not well aligned, the clearance on the front and the right side of the bottom is quite significant. If you turn the car to the side, you’ll notice that the doors don’t stay shut. It’s a relatively low standard of fit and finish. Anyway, at least ERTL made the door handles and locks visible.
Up front, ERTL didn’t bother putting the custom K.I.T.T. bumper on it. Instead, they went with the original Firebird front. As you can see they did however, put a red scanner light sticker on it. I must admit, it’s not totally wrong, as K.I.T.T. can be seen in several scenes of the pilot episode of Knight Rider (Knight of the Phoenix) with that stock bumper and the scanner mounted right on the front.
The front marker lights are molded into the fenders, but are obviously not painted yellow. As a matter of fact, the whole car is all black. The wheels are equipped with the turbine finned alloys and the “Bowling Ball” hubcaps. They even have a little Pontiac logo in the center. Moreover, the tires have “Goodyear” markings on the side and descent profile on them – very nice! Don’t try looking for stone deflectors or air extractors on this car, you won’t find them.
In the rear, I’m unable to say whether there are rear marker lights or not, as the “Knight Rider” stickers cover that part of the body. They did however manage to put in the fuel filler cap on the left side. The back follows the same path as the front. You can clearly see the stock taillight cluster with the three parts, the horizontal lines, the Firebird logo, as well as the Pontiac lettering. Let me just add that there aren’t any side mirrors, but that’s probably due to the fact that this was built to be a children’s toy. Mirrors would have represented a safety hazard.
On the hood, we find the iconic Trans Am bulge on the left side including the separation line for the upper element. The roof has the T-top shape, but no actual glass or plastic covers to put in. Furthermore, the center bar is way too large for a third generation Firebird and reminds me of the previous generation model.
Overall regarding the exterior, ERTL didn’t bother applying any of the Knight Rider transformations and instead went for a bone stock Firebird Trans Am with some stickers. Bear in mind that this car was intended for children for ages 3 and over and not for adult collectors as it has become today.
Now, what about the 1/64 model? Due to the fact that it is even smaller than the 1/25, my expectations in terms of fit and finish were quite low. Interestingly, you can kind of see that it was made by the same manufacturer at the same period: the front bumper is the stock Firebird one with the scanner sticker and it does have the “Knight Rider” sticker on either rear fender, like on the 1/25 model. But I must say, it’s actually not a bad model. Contrary to the bigger one, this one does actually have air extractors in the front fenders.
It has a compact single piece body. As a result, none of the panels can be opened or removed. The doors do however have handles and locks. For obvious reasons, it doesn’t have rear view mirrors, but it does have garnish moldings which again, are not on its slightly bigger brother.
In the rear, the fuel filler cap is visible on the left side. As we get to the back, this is where it starts to get tricky: Look at the rear spoiler – it’s diagonal instead of flat and continuous along the sides, just like on the second generation Firebird. How weird is that? Maybe ERTL didn’t want to plug in the authentic spoiler just in case it gets loose and children would swallow it…who knows?
At least they put in transparent plastic roof panels on the T-top – good job. Nevertheless, I would have liked to see the Trans Am bulge on the hood. Wouldn’t have that been possible on that scale in 1982? Lastly, the wheels are simple black ones made out of solid plastic – most likely a standard issue part.
So much for the exterior. I’d love to open the hood and take a look at the engines of these cars, but unfortunately they don’t have any.
So let’s get underneath the cars straight ahead. The 1/25 model is reasonably accurate. It pretty much carries on the same attention to details as the exterior: You can recognize the shapes of the radiator and the steering, but of course, the whole undercarriage is just one single plate that imitates all of the elements, such as the oil pan, transmission, exhaust system and fuel tank. There is no functioning steering but the wheels mounted to their respective axle do turn. The undercarriage is clipped into place and bolted to the body with one screw only in the back. The traditional ERTL logo is branded in the middle. There is however no mention of Pontiac, General Motors, NBC or Universal Studios.
Let’s zoom in on the 1/64 K.I.T.T.: Obviously, the standard is lower on this model, but so are the expectations. It’s a one plate undercarriage as well. There are very few details visible, basically just the transmission and the exhaust pipes. The plate is riveted to the body with one rivet in the front and another one in the back. As on the 1/25 scale model, this one carries the ERTL branding in the middle.
Enough of the greasy stuff, let’s jump into the cars. As you know by now, only the 1/25 has access to the interior. If you want to get into the 1/64, you’re gonna have to do that ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ style, as the doors are just engraved.
The first instantly recognizable observations are the all black interior and the fact that it looks pretty stock Firebird inside. Neither the dashboard, nor the steering wheel is in Knight Rider fashion. However, I must give ERTL some credit, as they did a pretty good job at replicating the original Trans Am. The front seats don’t have the hole in the head-rest and the back seats are separated by a huge transmission shaft, but other than that it’s quite good. They even put in the center console and the hand brake lever. Furthermore, considering that the doors are made of a single metal piece, the interior trim is actually really good: most of the elements are visible and shaped accurately.
It’s a different story on the 1/64 model – it’s much more simplistic: A plane flat dashboard without any gauges, a standard steering wheel, front seats only and a gear lever.
Now this is something special: Having the original packaging of a model car that is over 30 years old, that alone makes it a collector’s item. So here it is: The box of the 1/25 model has a longer back plate with the ERTL and Knight Rider letterings on the front, as well as a drawing of K.I.T.T.. Notice that even on the picture they used a stock Firebird Trans Am with a scanner at the very front. The main part of the box comes in a yellow and blue color combination with an open window upfront all the way over the top. With “Durable Die-Cast 2000“ on the front and “Durable Die Cast Replica – Constructed to Last a Lifetime!“ on the top, ERTL emphasizes on the solidity and ruggedness of its product.
In the back, you’ll find a brief description of the car and another picture of KITT as well as Michael Knight. Funnily enough, on this picture, K.I.T.T. is shown with the actual front bumper of the TV show. On the bottom is where you can see the ERTL and, finally, the Universal City Studios brandings, trademarked in 1982. On the right side you’ll find a kind of an application form to fill out and cut out in order to become a member of the ERTL Collector’s Club. A very special and rare thing to have. I guess I’m going to have to find out want that has become!
Onwards to the packaging of the smaller car. You can instantly recognize that the two cars come from the same brand and are made in the same period. The car was originally hold in place by a transparent box. The cardboard comes in the same yellow and blue color scheme with the ERTL and Knight Rider letterings. On this particular example, there is an additional French sticker on it, indicating that it was originally sold in France. In the back, we get the same Collector’s Club application form as on the bigger model on top, as well as the ERTL and Universal City Studios brandings below.
Back on the road
These two model cars are definitely not the most accurate TV show car replicas, but they were meant for children to play with. Moreover, the fact that they were made at the time the show aired now makes them collectors items anyway and for that reason they have earned their tickets into the fan collection.
In this article I’m presenting a series of four ERTL model cars of the 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am “K.I.T.T.” and his evil twin “K.A.R.R.”. The iconic automobiles of the 80’s TV series “Knight Rider”. I’ll start with the more recent 1/18 K.I.T.T. and K.A.R.R., compare them to the original Firebird Trans Am they are based on, and continue with the 1/25 and 1/64 scale models in part 2.
History of the car
In 1982, Pontiac launched the completely redesigned third generation of the Firebird model. It was a drastic change in terms of technology and styling: electronically controlled retractable headlamps flush-mounted side glass, a glass rear hatchback, just to name a few. This generation was designed in the wind tunnel. Every exterior element of this car was designed to be sleek and aerodynamically efficient. The Trans Am, which was the top model of the range, was the perfect car to choose for a TV series that was about the car of the future, the “Knight Industries Two Thousand”, commonly known as “K.I.T.T.”.
Engine wise, the third generation Firebird came with a plethora of inline 4, V6 and V8 engines, going from 151 cu in (2.5 L) all the way up to 350 cu in (5.7 L). In the TV show, K.I.T.T. got its power from a turbine, but the actual engine was the Crossfire-injected LU5 305 cu in (5.0 L) V8 with a whopping 165 hp, coupled to the TH-200c automatic 3-speed transmission, that came with the Trans Am only – A rather modest power output for today’s standards, but then it was in 1982.
K.I.T.T. and K.A.R.R. were based on the Recaro Edition Trans Am with the PMD (Pontiac Motor Division) seats. On the exterior, the changes to the production model were surprisingly small, but all the more iconic. The front bumper with the integrated red scanner light has the correct shape. The scanner light even works and is powered by four coin cells located in the fuel tank. Press the small black button on the left side just in front of the rear wheel and the scanner light will stay on for 20 seconds. Press the big blue button on the opposite side and it’ll stay on till you press it again.
This K.I.T.T. has two fog lamps per side plus additional turn signals. In the TV show, K.I.T.T. never had turn signals in the front bumper. There were three fog lamps per side in the first two seasons and only two fog lamps per side in the final two seasons. According to the dashboard, this is supposed to replicate the car of the first two seasons. Back then, K.I.T.T. had a slightly different front bumper than in the following seasons: the fog lamp part was covered with black laths, making the fog lamps visible only when switched on. The original parking lights were covered by tinted plastic, letting the light shine through when switched on. This is the later bumper that completely covers the original parking lights of the Firebird. K.A.R.R. had two appearances on the TV show; one in the first season when the exterior was identical to K.I.T.T.’s and one in the third season, when the scanner light had faded from red to yellow, due to a two years in salt water. He had also repainted the lower part of the body in grey.
The only differences to K.I.T.T. are: the grey paint on the lower part of the car, the yellow scanner and the yellow voice modulator. The grey paint job just misses one detail, the line along the wheel arches. It does have the front stone deflectors like on K.I.T.T.. K.A.R.R. has three fog lamps per side as well, instead of two. However, they are all white.
Further down the front, you can see the grappling hook. Although it was only visible up close on the show when used, ERTL managed to install a permanent one with a spring that rolls it back in when you release the rope. Whereas it works still quite good on this K.A.R.R. model, it’s a little stuck on K.I.T.T. and I have to roll it back in manually. Nevertheless, it’s really impressive to see that they thought of it and made a working unit!
Back on top, the hood has its signature left side Trans Am bulge. The headlights do not pop up on this models, nor do any of the other lights work, which is a little sad, since they already have batteries for the scanner lights. Anyway, the marker lights are correctly painted orange in front and red in the rear. Fortunately, the windshield wipers are accurately replicated separate items that have been installed hidden behind the hood – just as they should. The air extractors on the front fenders are also there. ERTL even painted them in a different matt black as opposed to the shiny black on the rest of the car. The garnish moldings on the doors have been installed correctly. On K.A.R.R., they also mark the limit between the two paint colors. The radio antenna is missing, just as in the show.
The wheels are fitted with the turbine finned alloy imitation rims with the black “Bowling Ball” hubcaps. The tires don’t show any brand markings on the side like in the show, but they have actual profile on them. The stone deflectors, standard on the Trans Am, were mounted in front of either wheel. Contrary to this model and many replicas, the front ones were never mounted on the actual K.I.T.T.. Even this one has got them. Finally, the fuel filler cap with the opening bulge on the left side is very accurate. The back window is tinted and opens just as in real one. Contrary to the life size one it has a thick frame, but then I suppose it would have to hold everything together. In the rear, K.I.T.T.’s black single piece taillight cover is on, as opposed to the Firebird’s original three piece cover. The bumper follows the exact embayment in the lower part and is completed with the classic blue “California KNIGHT” license plate sticker, bold on by four painted screws. However, ERTL just made yet another mistake with the paint job on K.A.R.R.: On the model the entire bumper is grey. On the real car, the separation is on the edge of the bumper, meaning that the upper surface is black. Please note: There was no license plate on K.A.R.R. when I got it. The one on this one is a self-made replica.
Looking further down we can see the tips of the two exhaust pipes, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s get up to the roof. As a matter of fact, the T-Top was a crucial part of K.I.T.T.. If you have watched to show you’ll know that K.I.T.T. used his ejector seats frequently, but we’ll get to that as we’ll get inside the car. The two sections are made out of tinted plastic, follow the original’s slightly curbed shape and are retractable. They are simply put on the car and cannot be attached. So be careful when turning the car upside down. That said, they fit perfectly, just as in the real world. 😉
Now let’s check out if there is actually a turbine under K.I.T.T.’s and K.A.R.R.’s hood. On the one hand the result is very disappointing, because ERTL put the conventional original 5.0 L V8 in it, in lieu of the turbine. On the other hand, the turbine was never visible in the show; every time they opened the hood, the stock V8 engine was in there. In that perspective, it’s a spot on job: Gold painted engine block, chrome valve covers, grey headers and alternator – all the different elements are painted in their respective color. The air filter, the cables on the engine bay and the hose connecting the radiator and the engine are on, even all of the auxiliaries and the v-belts are installed, even though they cannot turn. They even thought of replicating the exact shape of the cover plate between the headlights – well done.
The only letdowns are the battery and the headlights. While the battery is installed, no cable or connectors are visible. ERTL did a better job on the “Bluesmobile” I reviewed previously. And I assume it would have been feasible to install retractable headlights on this kind of model – Some less expensive model cars have that. Overall though, a very nice job. The hoods of both cars close nicely, they are well adjusted and the shut lines are very clean.
Time to look under the car. The mechanical details are all very accurate. The differently painted colors like in the engine bay continue their way down here. The wheels turn and the steering is connected to K.I.T.T. & K.A.R.R.’s futuristic steering wheel. From underneath we get a close look at the grappling hook and it’s actually quite sophisticated: A mini hook attached to a rope, which is attached to a winch that has been fitted with a spring. Just pull it out and it’ll rewind as you let it go. Although it still works quite good on this K.A.R.R., the one of K.I.T.T. appears to be a little stuck, probably because he got to use it more often than his evil twin.
The rest of the undercarriage is as detailed as we can expect it from ERTL: the exhaust pipes even integrate the catalytic converter. The tail pipes have the original angular ending – very nice. The transmission and propulsion shaft are painted grey and even show the correct articulations. Another nice touch is the fact that ERTL put in four real springs. Unfortunately, they are just for show and the suspension is solid. As usual for ERTL 1/18s, the undercarriage is screwed to the body with six bolts; two in the front, two in the middle and two in the back.
As mentioned before, the buttons in front of the back wheels are here to action the scanner light. The fuel tank is obviously the ideal place to store the coin cells. Funnily enough, the fuel tank is painted grey on K.I.T.T. and black on K.A.R.R.. Since I purchased K.A.R.R. a couple of years later, it just looks like ERTL made some improvements over the years – so far regarding the fuel tank and the fog lights, but also within the interior, as we shall see next.
Inside K.I.T.T. and K.A.R.R. is where the future begins – or at least used to begin during the 80’s. As soon as we hop in the cabin, the iconic dashboard of the 1st two seasons of Knight Rider greats us: The main dashboard, dash switchpod, steering wheel, upper & lower console – everything has the correct shape and sticker on it. Fortunately, ERTL even thought of the “Knight Industries” logo on the steering wheel.
The eight single diodes arranged vertically around the voice modulator are accurately painted on K.I.T.T.: the upper four are yellow, the lower four are red. However, the voice modulator itself is not painted at all. On K.A.R.R., the upper four diodes are orange, instead of yellow, but the voice modulator is painted as a square, like K.I.T.T. had in red in the very first few episodes. It would have been perfect, had they painted K.A.R.R.’s voice modulator with three yellow stripes. Nice job, even the gear lever is the one of the 1982 Firebird so often seen as a close-up when K.I.T.T. changed gears himself.
The rest of the cabin is all beige as it should. The front seats are just like in the actual K.I.T.T.: today’s very rare PMD units. All seats come with the accurate striped upholstery, but remain plastic of course. Tilt the front seat forward and you can access to the rear bench. The coolest thing of the whole interior is without a doubt the passenger ejector seat. Push the black button on the right side of the seat and off it goes! Don’t forget to remove the top first. 😉
The box comes in traditional ERTL / RC2 fashion with the big windows in the front and on top, a picture of K.I.T.T. or K.A.R.R. in the front and in the back. Moreover, there is an open spot up front to try the car’s scanner light. Interestingly, on K.I.T.T.’s box, the acronym is written out just underneath it – “Knight Industries Two Thousand”. On K.A.R.R.’s box, they left that out, whereas they should have added “Knight Automated Roving Robot”. David Hasselhoff aka Michael Knight is depicted on top and in the back for both models. In the back, you get a brief description of the show and the car in both English and French. On the bottom, the ERTL, RC2, General Motors and Universal Studios logos authenticate that this is an official product of the toy company, the car manufacturer and the movie production studio.
Back on the road
Overall, ERTL did a fine job building these 1/18 K.I.T.T. & K.A.R.R. replicas. There are a couple of minor flaws regarding the front of the cars and it would have been nice to have actual retractable headlights, but the rest of the car is very accurate. Furthermore, the functioning scanner light, the grappling hook and the ejector seat make you want to immerse into the Knight Rider world.
While you’re at it, you might want to check out David Hasselhoff’s trailer of the next Knight Rider iteration:
History of the car
The “Starsky & Hutch” car was a third generation Ford Gran Torino. Although the third generation was built from 1972 to 1976, the cars used in the 70’s TV series and 2004 movie were ‘74 to ‘76 models. Due to US Government safety regulations their front and rear bumpers, as well as the front grille differed greatly from the early 70’s model years. In 1976, the success of the “Starsky & Hutch” TV show even made Ford make a limited edition of 1’000 units built and painted just like the TV star. The ’74 to ’76 Gran Torino’s were equipped with a range of different V8 engines; displacements of 302 cu in (4.9L), 351 cu in (5.8L), 400 cu in (6.6L) and 460 cu in (7.5L), all of them being coupled to a three or four speed automatic transmission.
For starters, it comes in the correct Ford bright red paint livery with the white “vector” racing stripes all along the sides and over the roof. Furthermore, we can see that is has the correct body colored “sport” rear view mirrors, the yellow front marker lights, which are engraved into the body. The “Gran Torino” model lettering is correctly put on either front fender. However, ERTL used stickers for all letterings instead of actual plastic letters. Moreover, the car is equipped with the chrome US Mags 5 slot wheels. The tires do have actual profile on them but there are no markings on the tire walls. Like in many ERTL models, the chrome lines surrounding the wheel arches are painted on. They did a nice job though with the chrome side skirts from the front fender all the way back to the rear bumper.
In the front, the ’76 front grille with the eight vertical bars and the integrated parking lights is accurately replicated. There is even the Gran Torino emblem on it. Above the grille, we can see the Ford lettering. Gran Torino aficionados will notice that the letters are actually a little too far from the grille on the flat part, instead of being just close to the grille on the inclined part of the front. Further down we find the large bumper going all the way around both corners. It’s got the correct classic blue license plate “California 537 ONN” on the left side. They even put the two vertical bars in front of it with the black padding on it. The tip of the white “vector” stripes almost touch the headlights, which is too far. I believe the design of the stripes changed a little bit over the series but they never reached quite as far.
Going over to the passenger side of the car, we get a close look at the red flashing tear drop police light on the roof, which is attached to the police radio unit inside. But we’ll get to the interior in a few moments. Looking at the back of the car we can see that the taillights are wrapped around the corners. This eliminates the need for rear side marker lights. They are nicely done and clearly show the white reverse gear lights in the center. Obviously, the license plate is the same as in the front. Speaking of letterings, the “Torino” letters are accurately put on the center back. So are the “Ford” letters on the right side of the trunk lid. The trunk lock is only painted and to my big surprise, the trunk doesn’t open at all. The lid is clearly a separate piece of metal, but as I disassembled the car to check whether something was not put together correctly inside, I found out that there are no hinges at all at that the trunk lid is simply riveted to the body. That’s a very disappointing fact, considering that the doors and the hood do open.
The single exhaust pipe indicates that this model is equipped with one of the lower powered V8’s, but a close look under the hood well be given in the next chapter. Anyway, looking around the upper part of the car it’s nice to see ERTL painted the chrome lines around all windows. However, it’s a bit odd that the color surrounding the main windows is not the same as the one following the little rear side window. The windshield wipers are hidden underneath the hood of the car, which is accurately done. The disappointing part of it, is the fact that they are actually part of the body and just painted black on the top. ERTL has proven to be able to do better than that. Last but not least, they added a slightly bent radio antenna, which gives the car a very realistic and used touch, as they rarely stay straight very long.
Under the hood we get to admire the mighty V8: In the TV series, they used cars with different engines. This one, as we can see from its sticker on the air filter, is the 351 12V (5.8L) 152 hp unit. The attention to details is actually quite good: blue air filter and valve covers, the safety stickers on the ventilator cover, chrome painted alternator. Moreover, all of the auxiliaries are visible, although not moveable. Wires and hoses are all there and even the battery clamps are painted grey. Kudos to ERTL for that.
The mechanical details are all quite good; the steering works smoothly and although it’s all made out of plastic it’s reasonably solid. For me, the nicest thing to see is the engine and the transmission; it really pays to have the different elements painted in different colors. It just gives the car a more upscale touch. Back in the rear we can read that it was made under Ford license and built by ERTL. There is however, no mention of a movie production studio or a Starsky & Hutch merchandising department.
Inside it’s all black, so that’s a good start. The steering wheel has the correct shape and the grey-ish accents. Even the ignition is there but the keys are missing. It’s nice to see that the gauges and everything on the dashboard does have the correct three dimensional shape and color, rather than just being put on a sticker. As mentioned before, the cable of the flash light is connected to the passenger side police radio unit. The microphone doesn’t come off, but it’s great to know that they built the whole thing. On the floor we can see three pedals. Being an automatic I suppose the left one is for the parking brake. The front seats tilt forward to get easy access to the rear. A lot of attention to details has been put into the door panels as well: visible lock pins on top, “Gran Torino” stitching in the middle, as well as some chrome elements contrast the all black door just as in the actual car. Looking up, we can spot the rear view mirror, the sunshades and even the inside light.
The box comes in traditional ERTL / RC2 fashion with the big windows in the front and on top, coupled with some pictures of the main actors of the TV show. In the back, you get a brief description of the show and the car in both English and French. On the bottom, the ERTL, RC2 and Ford logos authenticate that this is an official product of the toy company and the car manufacturer.
Back on the road
This ERTL 1/18 “Starsky & Hutch” model car is quite good, although not as good as fellow movie car model this brand has made alongside this one. It does have all of the car’s components and TV elements, such as the radio and shows a very well made interior. The only downside is the fact that the trunk does not open and the windshield wipers are part of the body instead of being separate parts.