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

KITT's Rockin' Red Engine!

posted Mar 20, 2015, 7:23 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 8:40 AM ]

I stopped down at Troy's today after work today because I had a couple of questions for him. I wanted to get his opinion on using a newer ECM along with the Painless EFI harness. In order to make the new harness work, I will need to use an ECM out of an 1986 to 1993 Firebird. I was a little concerned about being able to balance and tune the Cross-fire with a newer ECM. Troy said that it would not be an issue. 

The second thing I wanted to ask him about was the intake manifold. I am trying to decide whether to leave it stock, port it out, or purchase the Renegade manifold. Troy said I would definitely see a benefit by porting the manifold and even more by using the Renegade manifold. He was trying to explain just how restrictive the stock manifold was. He said it might be easier to just show me... also, they just finished painting the engine red! We went to the back of the shop to check it out.

Here is the engine:

Check out these roller rockers:

Here are the intake ports on the engine block.

Here they are on the opposite side. Notice how close the gasket holes fit the port openings (keep in mind it is a little off-center in this picture). The gaskets are die cut to fit the ports exactly.

Here is the gasket on the bottom of the stock manifold. Look how restricted the ports are.

Here is another picture showing how much smaller the ports are on the intake manifold. 

When I saw this, it became apparent to me that I really need to either port the stock manifold or purchase the Renegade manifold.

When I think about the time and effort that would go into porting the stock manifold (not to mention how easy it would be to screw up) it just makes more sense to purchase the Renegade manifold. I could achieve some of the benefits by porting, but not all. The Renegade manifold was designed from the ground up to make maximum use of the stock shape and dimensions. I have decided to order one. When it arrives I will do a side-by-side comparison of the manifolds to highlight the differences.

KITT Has All 16 Wheels On The Ground

posted Mar 16, 2015, 6:27 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 8:39 AM ]

We decided to take advantage of the super nice weather and get KITT down off the jack stands.

Sara took this picture to point out all the stuff I have again stored inside KITT. She says KITT is not impressed.

I started by raising the front end with the jack so I could remove the blocks and rest the front end on just the jack stands.

I did the same thing in the rear. (Sara's dad and mom came over to supervise.)

My floor jack does not have a low enough clearance to fit under the k-member or rear differential once the car is lowered to the ground. I had to switch jacking points to the subframe connectors and lower the driver side to the ground first.

I repeated the process with the passenger side. I plan to buy a new jack with a lower clearance and at least the same jacking height. I found out while changing oil on both the Freestyle and the Fiero that they would benefit from a jack with a lower clearance.

Before the passenger side was completely lowered to the ground we slid the auto dollies under the wheels.

The rear driver side tire was low on air, so I filled it back up.

We slid the auto dollies under the driver side wheels and lowered the car down.

KITT is back on wheels (all 16 of them)! Four wheels per dollie. ;)

KITT moves very easily with the auto dollies!

I was able to push KITT by myself to the other side of the garage.

Time to sweep up a year's worth of dust and dirt accumulation.

All clean!

I moved KITT back and a little closer to the wall this time. As easy as it is to move him now, I will be able to pull him out when I want to work on him.

KARR's New Shift Knob

posted Feb 24, 2015, 6:28 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 8:41 AM ]

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 Mar 21, 2015, 8:45 AM ]

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   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 8:44 AM ]

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 Mar 21, 2015, 8:47 AM ]

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! 

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