Project: K.I.T.T. is the restoration & conversion of a 1983 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am into Knight Rider's KITT

KARR's New Shift Knob

posted Feb 24, 2015, 6:28 PM by Jonathan Imberi

The original Fiero shift knob in KARR was leather wrapped because it was a GT. Considering its age it held up well, although the leather was starting to come unstitched.  KARR, being the uber cool prototype for Knight Industries, deserves better! 

Matt Meyer, a member of Pennock's Fiero Forum, offers a service of recovering your shift knob in leather. He does however require the core from your current knob. I could not send mine in until I had one to replace it so I took before and after pictures to show what an awesome job he does on these! 

I ordered KARR a grainy black leather with Knight Industries gold stitching. You can see the results below:

This last picture was taken with the flash on so you can see the grain in the leather. Thanks for a great service Matt! My old shift knob is on its way back to you.

Don Peake's Knight Rider Music

posted Feb 21, 2015, 5:35 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Feb 22, 2015, 7:46 PM ]

Last July Don Peake made an announcement about the release of the next four volumes of KNIGHT RIDER soundtrack music. Here's what Don had to say...

me permission to produce 250 flash drives of Volume 4, V5, V6, and V7 to be
sold at the Atlanta convention! This will be Exclusive to your event until later this year.
These will be in a credit card shaped flash drive with USB plug! I will be selling
them for $25.00 each because it costs so much to produce them and pay NBCU.
Each volume has 2 episodes of music, except volume 6. This is 24 bit audio resolution.
I am so excited. 
This has been an uphill battle for 2 years.

The episode list for each Volume is as follows:

Volume 4
A Nice Indecent Little Town
Killer K.I.T.T.

Volume 5
Knight Moves
Speed Demons

Volume 6
Chariot of Gold

Volume 7
Knight of the Juggernaut
Return to Cadiz

Best Regards,
Your Friend,

I was not able to attend Southern Knights Atlanta last year, so I had to wait until now to purchase my copies of these four new albums. I already had the first three albums, so I was really excited for these. They arrived yesterday!

I cannot wait to listen to all of this new material!! Thanks for making these available Don!

My father-in-law is still in the hospital, so Sara and I have both been spending time visiting and helping Mom with stuff around the house. He is on the mend though and should be out soon! Our goal is to get KITT down on the auto dollies before the weekend is out.

POR-15 Follows Through

posted Feb 19, 2015, 6:28 PM by Jonathan Imberi

POR-15 contacted me on Tuesday and told me they had received my return (the cans of rubberized undercoating). Instead of giving me a refund for the two cans of undercoating and the return shipping, they refunded the cost of my entire original order. (I had ordered the undercoating and also a jug of POR-15 Metal Prep.) Here is what the email said:


               I received back the undercoating today.  I also just refunded you the full amount for your order.  That will cover the return shipping to us and then some.  You should see the credit back on your credit card in a day or so.  Sorry about the inconvience and I hope this problem doesn’t sour you from ordering again from POR-15.  Let me know if you need anything else.  Thank you.

This problem definitely will not sour me from ordering POR-15 again. I still think they rock!
My father-in-law has been in the hospital, and we have been spending a lot of time visiting him instead of working on KITT. Sara and I might work on KITT a little bit tomorrow night/this weekend.

Applying BlackCote To The Firewall

posted Feb 8, 2015, 3:05 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Feb 11, 2015, 7:21 PM ]

Today I applied BlackCote to the firewall. BlackCote is what the rest of the engine bay is done in and is the UV-resistant equivalent of POR-15 Black. Due to the rough texture of the undercoating it was very hard to brush on. It actually reminded me of painting over some of the very rusty areas on the car, like the battery tray.

Here is a good comparison shot of the BlackCote vs. the undercoating. The BlackCote is definitely a more deep gloss black.

Here is the finished firewall. The rest of the engine bay really is this color black; it is just dirty.

While I was applying the BlackCote, Sara covered my shelves with the red vinyl material.

It looks great Sara, thank you!

She was a busy little bee and organized and labeled these tubs and shelves.

She also located the box that had the evaporator housing and blower.

So when I was finished painting, I got the housing out. This is going to be my next project.

I am going to thoroughly clean the housing and then paint the outside with Krylon Fusion Satin Black. Sara is modeling the spray can cap in this picture. It should be a good color match.

My final project this afternoon was to hang up my new work table. I reused one of the extra bicycle brackets Sara found when she was organizing the shelves.

Undercoating The Firewall

posted Feb 7, 2015, 4:23 PM by Jonathan Imberi

I started this morning by making sure the tape was still firmly attached in all the areas I masked off last night.

First coat of undercoating on the firewall:

Second coat of undercoating on the firewall:

I bought a whole roll of that red vinyl material. I like the way it looks on my work bench, so I covered my rolling work bench and my refrigerator/freezer top also.

KITT approves.

After the undercoating had dried, I removed the masking. I had my camerawoman back, so I have action shots now. :)

I had wrapped all the stainless steel lines with masking tape. The tape went on a lot easier than it came off, but it protected well.

Here is the coated firewall:

I just need to give this a coat of BlackCote so it matches the rest of the engine bay and this will be finished. Maybe tomorrow...

Masking Off The Firewall

posted Feb 6, 2015, 8:11 PM by Jonathan Imberi

When I got off work today, I touched up the spots I could not get to on the underbody last weekend. Here are the spots I wanted to touch up:

Here are a couple pictures after I touched up the spots:

After finishing the wheel wells last weekend, I decided I would like to spray the undercoating on the firewall in the engine bay. Since we could not reuse the original firewall pad we created our own firewall out of multiple layers of RAAMmat BXTII and Ensolite. Although it is as thick as the original firewall pad, I decided I wanted to coat the firewall with the undercoating to add more sound deadening and insulation against heat.  I plan to top coat the undercoating with the same POR-15 BlackCote we used on the rest of the engine bay.

I had to start by cleaning the firewall and surrounding areas. I used POR-15 Cleaner Degreaser and a rag to wipe it down. I then I wiped it down with a rag and water.

Once the area was dry I masked it off.

Ready for the undercoating:

I am waiting until tomorrow morning to spray the undercoating on the firewall. I finished the night by recovering my work bench with a new red vinyl material I bought a couple weeks ago.

Looks nice, doesn't it?

I contacted POR-15 this week, and they told me to send back both cans of their undercoating for a full refund. They assured me again that the Metal Prep that was also in that shipment would be unaffected by freezing. Sara mailed the package to POR-15 today. I will let you know what happens.

Unveiling The Wheel Wells

posted Feb 1, 2015, 1:33 PM by Jonathan Imberi

I started today by making a close-up inspection of all four wheel wells to look for spots I missed. I noticed in the driver side rear wheel well there was some cracking over top of the area I retreated with POR-15.

I also noticed I missed a small spot along the inner lip.

I also missed a huge patch underneath the fuel door opening. I was trying to avoid spraying this area too much, for fear of it spraying through the paper. I think that is why I missed this area yesterday.

Moving on to the passenger side rear wheel well, I again missed a strip on the inner lip.

Both front wheel wells looked fine, so I went to work touching up the spots/cracks on the rear wells.

Unmasked and finished driver side rear wheel well:

The color in these pictures still look dark gray. It is a matte black.

Unmasked and finished driver side front wheel well:

Unmasked and finished passenger side rear wheel well:

Unmasked and finished passenger side front wheel well:

Sara and I put all four tires and the front fenders back on.

Here is the driver side wheel well with no flash. You can see how black it is in the wheel well.

This is the driver side rear wheel well and tire. I think the color in these next two pictures is probably closest to true I have been able to capture with the camera.

Passenger side front wheel well and tire:

Passenger side rear wheel well and tire:

Undercoating The Wheel Wells

posted Jan 31, 2015, 5:02 PM by Jonathan Imberi

Last night I did quite a bit of research online, and I decided to fall back on my original plan for the wheel wells before I had decided to do them in high gloss black POR-15. Originally when we stripped the wheel wells, I had two options: 1) replace the factory-style undercoating, or 2) try something different and go with high gloss black. I decided to go for something different, and everyone knows the ending to that story...

Prior to deciding on using high gloss POR-15, I had researched online and found 3M Automotive Coatings makes a heavy duty rubberized undercoating as part of their Bondo line. This is what I would have used had I decided to replace the factory-style undercoating. Fast forward a couple of years to us once again having to make wheel well coating decisions. POR-15 had introduced their own line of rubberized undercoating, and when it came time to undercoat the primered wheel wells I thought the POR-15 undercoating would be a better choice.

After last night, I decided to fall back on my first idea. Sara and I had breakfast and then went to Menards and purchased cans of Bondo heavy duty rubberized undercoating. Each can cost only $4 compared to the $20 POR-15 undercoating.

We also bought a tarp at Menards to paint the fender lines on.

The passenger side rear wheel well still needed to be taped and masked off.

This is how the POR-15 undercoating dried. It literally looks and feels like a layer of matte paint. There is absolutely no rubberized texture.

Up next... Bondo undercoating spray. I began with the driver side front wheel well.

The difference was apparent immediately. There was more pressure, more volume, and more coverage. It was kind of like spraying liquid tar or asphalt.

First coat of Bondo undercoating, and already it looks rubbery.

On to the passenger side front wheel well.

After getting one coat on the front wheel wells, I sprayed the fender liners.

Second coat:

The small liner is the cover for the fuel filler neck.

I took these pictures after two coats of the Bondo undercoating:

(Despite the pictures, it is a very matte black color.)

Next up: touching up the underbody and the driver side rear wheel well with POR-15 black.

Here are the two areas that need touching up:

All touched up!

I went under the car to inspect the spots Dad and I marked yesterday. I was originally going to use POR-Patch on a couple of them, along the seams and pinch welds. However, our masking of the wheel wells has covered these up. (Dad, we did too good of job!) I will have to go back to these spots once the wheel well masking is removed.

I touched up the spots I could get to with POR-15 black.

Using a third can of Bondo undercoating, I applied another coat to the fender liners.

I also applied one last coat to both front wheel wells.

I used six cans of undercoating: three cans on the front wheel wells and liners, and three cans on the rear wheel wells.

I applied light coats, and switched back and forth between the rear wheel wells to allow the coats to dry.

Here are the finished fender liners:

Hopefully I will have a wheel well unveiling for you tomorrow! 

Matte Black Spray Paint Only $20 A Can!

posted Jan 31, 2015, 11:45 AM by Jonathan Imberi

Yesterday as soon as I got home from work I hit the garage running. I wanted to get as much done on the wheel wells this weekend as we could. The first thing I needed to do was clear out underneath KITT, which meant putting KARR's summer tires away.

Sara bought me these seasonal tire totes and felt protectors.

The felts go on the wheel side of the tire to protect it from scratches and I used the shipping cardboard that came with the snow tires to make a cover for the backs of the wheels.

Once the tires are in the totes, they are very easy to carry with the built-in handles.

My dad came over to help just as I was covering the last tire. We hauled the tires upstairs to the storage closet, and then removed KITT's fenders.

Next we removed all four wheels from KITT.

We swept out underneath KITT so the creepers would roll smoothly and we could get underneath to mark all the spots that need to be touched up with POR-15.

This is the driver side rear wheel well.

These next three shots highlight where I stripped off/cleaned all the way through the POR-15 in attempt to remove the primer. I need to reapply POR-15 to these spots. I plan to cover the black patch you can see in this picture with POR-15.

This is the passenger side rear wheel well.

Mario must have used some kind of a floor jack under the cross member to move KITT around. It ended up eating through some of the POR-15. I need to repaint these areas with POR-15.

These are chips on the A-arm. I think Troy and I did this damage when we were trying to put the springs in. I will reapply POR-15 to these areas.

My dad and I were both on creepers underneath KITT looking for areas that need to be touched up. This is a spot on the underbody right along a seam where I noticed some surface rust. We must have missed this area when we were painting.

This is another area that is missing coverage, again along a seam.

This is the drain plug for the differential. Troy had to use a torch to get the old plug out, and after the prolonged exposure to the heat it removed the POR-15. This needs to be repainted.

Another seam/pinch weld we missed. My dad and I tagged all these areas with blue tape so I can find them again to repaint.

The next two pictures are of the mount points for the Panhard/track bar. Just a few areas that did not quite get the coverage they need.

Another seam spot we missed.

Sara brought home dinner for us, and then we all went back out to the garage to start cleaning the wheel wells and wheel well inserts. Sara cleaned the passenger side wheel wells with POR-15 Cleaner Degreaser.

My dad cleaned the driver side rear wheel well and the wheel well inserts.

I cleaned the driver side front wheel well, and then started taping.

We masked off all the areas we did not want undercoating sprayed on.

Dad shook the POR-15 Rubberized Under Coating for several minutes to make sure it was sufficiently agitated. Then I started to apply it to the driver side front wheel well. My first reaction was that there was something wrong with it. It was hardly spraying at all, almost as if there was no propellant left in the can. I did a coat on about 1/4 of the wheel well and then stopped.

It looked like matte black paint, and nothing like the textured covering indicated on the can.

Thinking that we might have gotten a dud can, we switched to the second can. We shook this one for about 5 minutes and then I started spraying the entire wheel well. It still did not have the texture we were expecting.

Dad held the light wand to make sure I had sufficient light to see that I was covering everything.

The overall look was nothing like what we wanted so we decided to test it on a small spot on the gray primer in the rear wheel well.

The gray primer allowed us to see how it was spraying. You can see in this picture that it is spraying like textured paint, but what you cannot see is that this is literally is like spray paint, and it has no rubbery feeling or thickness to it at all. We decided there has to be something wrong with the two cans of POR-15 Rubberized Under Coating. It probably has something to do with the fact that they froze in shipment. I am going to call POR-15 on Monday and ask for a refund.

In the meantime, we decided to continue taping and masking off the wheel wells.

My dad said the wheel wells are wrapped up like Christmas presents. :)

Here is the driver side rear wheel well.

Here is the passenger side front wheel well.

Sara, Bonnie Has Nothing On You

posted Jan 29, 2015, 7:24 PM by Jonathan Imberi

Sara found something that she thought I could use, and immediately I knew I could make it into a prop with just a little work. Here is another variation on a diagnostic wand for KITT.

As you can see in the video, I took a preliminary scan of the wheel wells in preparation for this weekend. Stay tuned!

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