Knight Rider Keeps On Truckin’

[AJ] and [Joe], collectively the [Knight Rider Historians] are bringing back one of the most iconic vehicles of the 1980’s. Everyone remembers KITT driving into the F.L.A.G. truck. Even the Mythbusters re-enacted the stunt back in 2007. The duo managed to track down the original tractor and trailer from the show for restoration, and part of that process means uncovering the Hollywood hacks used to make the car-driving-into-trailer stunt work.

Back in the ’80s when a movie or TV show wrapped up, the props were often re-used in other productions or sold off. The 1975 Dorsey trailer used on Knight Rider was eventually purchased, stripped down, and painted white. It spent the last 30 years serving as a racing trailer. Carrying cars, and tools, and serving as a mobile shop at the track.

Unsurprisingly, most of the custom parts from Knight Rider are gone – but some hints remain. Specifically, [KRH] are trying to figure out how the drive-up door operated. Originally they assumed it was a hydraulic ram system that pulled the cables. However, above a dropped ceiling they found a welded hard mount and a 24-foot rail running down the trailer roof.

They believe the hard mount was for a winch, and the rail was used as a cable guide for two winch cables.  A set of pulleys just behind the door directed these cables down to the ramp itself.

Of course, this is all speculation – the blueprints from the build are long gone, and many of the crew have forgotten how it was built. All [KRH] has to go on are screenshots from Knight Rider episodes and the physical evidence in the truck itself.  So how did the door mechanism really work? Let us know what you think in the comments.

39 thoughts on “Knight Rider Keeps On Truckin’

  1. Now I have to wonder – did the racing crew ever try to recreate the driving into the trailer stunt? If they knew the trailer’s history and the mechanism still worked, how could they resist?

    1. Along that same thought, if it was still intact when it was sold to them I can’t imagine they would have disassembled it. I bet it was all removed before it was even sold.

          1. The ramp can be recreated using diamond plate and a motor powered pulley and after you confirm that you can put wireless internet in the trailer and the same for the KITT you could look up the stuff online used from eBay.

  2. I bet the ramp used a modified screw drive garage door opener, likely one made by Genie, the inventors of the type in the mid 1970’s.

    The screw would have been inside the rail mounted to the roof. They know there were a pair of cable pulleys mounted at the rear of the trailer and near the middle. It would be a simple thing to connect a pair of cables to the garage door opener slide, go around a pair of pulleys at the rear end of the track, out to the sides around the pulleys at the middle of the trailer, then to the rear and over those pulleys to connect to the ramp.

    1. Garage door openers depend on a door spring to cancel out the weight of the door. Those Genie openers attach to the door with a plastic carriage with nylon teeth that follow the screw. They can’t handle the full weight of a garage door much less the door of an 18 wheeler trailer.

  3. I wonder how the car could enter the trailer while the truck is driving. Typically, if the truck drives at 30mph, the car must drive faster (let’s say 31mph). As soon as its front wheel are on the ramp, there’s a huge difference in (relative) speed, since now the car is driving at 31mph on a 30mph ramp, so it’ll likely crash into the truck unless the car driver hits the brake like a madman. But, since the rear wheel are still on the road, braking will slow the car enough so it’ll return on the road.

    Said differently, the car should go from the truck’s speed to 1 or 2mph **instantly** once its front wheel are on the ramp, and I don’t think it’s possible.

    1. No, Just the wheels have to go from spinning at that speed to zero. The rest of the car is still moving at the same speed, its just not supplying the power to move any more.

      1. That’s what they said at the time it was being filmed, in discussions about the effects, that the loading happened at close to walking speeds and the film was speeded up.

  4. Either from the Mythbusters or from one of those Movie Magic type special effects shows from 20 years ago when Discovery used to be semi-educational, they mentioned the original Knight Rider shots of the car going into the trailer were just reversed footage of the car being backed /rolled out of the trailer. But Mythbusters did both and, as noted above, it worked fine.

    1. The scene in the last Back to the Future where the locomotive is pushing the DeLorean, was also filmed backwards. Michael J. Fox said it was required by the insurance company. He also said the actors had to speak their lines in reverse for that scene.

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