When the 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR launches this spring don't be
surprised if there's some confusion over what the letters "KR" stand
for. While the super car has been known to racing fans as "King of the
Road" since 1968, this February it will star in a remake of the hit TV
series Knight Rider, making mix-ups inevitable.
"It's purely a coincidence and a nice one at that,"" said Al Uzielli a senior advisor, to Ford Global Brand Entertainment the Ford office in Beverly Hills which works to place Ford branded vehicles in movies, TV and other media. "Auto enthusiasts will know what KR stands for. But most viewers will probably think it means Knight Rider; at least at first."
For many original Knight Rider fans, the casting of the car known as KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand) is as important as the lead character.
In the movie version, KITT's supercomputer is capable of hacking almost any system and its body - thanks to its creator's work and nanotechnology - is capable of actually shifting shape and color. Plus, its artificial intelligence makes it the ideal good cop partner: logical, precise and possessing infinite knowledge. It is the ultimate car - and someone will be willing to do anything to obtain it.
For designers, the first challenge of creating a screen version of the
"King of the Road" 2008 Shelby GT500KR, was that the car isn't even on
the road yet. The solution was to go to Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) who is
well-known for creating one-of-a-kind vehicles in the California market.
GAS had one week to create the new KITT, and they pulled out all the stops. Six people worked full time to create the Mustang that would be sent over to Picture Car Warehouse as the father of all the KITT derivatives and stunt cars.
Not only does KITT make its appearance as a GT500KR but Knight Rider fans get to see KITT in three modes - Hero, Attack, and camouflage versions.
The Hero car is a standard 540-horsepower Shelby GT500KR and the Attack car is a further modified high-speed version. The GT500KR is built up from a Mustang GT with an automatic transmission to facilitate the driving scenes, stunts, and camera work necessary to produce the great action scenes in the movie. Stunt versions were also built for doing all of the aggressive driving maneuvers.
The Attack version was designed by Harold Belker who is also responsible for the vehicles in movies like Batman & Robin, Armageddon, Deep Blue Sea, Inspector Gadget, Battlefield Earth, Spider-Man, Minority Report, XXX, The Cat in the Hat, and Superman.
Working with Belker was Ted Moser of Picture Car Warehouse and 25 automotive specialists who, created six variations of the GT500KR. The Attack car features a new rear bumper cover, two-tiered spoiler, side scoops, and custom rocker panels... not to mention a completely modified interior to accommodate creative needs, as well as shooting and post-production computer graphics.
"Ford wanted to keep KITT as close to the Mustang Shelby GT500KR as possible," Belker said. "Some may say the ATTACK version is a little over the top, but this isn't about reinventing design language, it's about being entertaining."
By Brandy Schaffels