Which is the best car in pop culture? It’s a tough question to answer because each generation has their own favorites (there’s Vin Diesel’s 1970 Dodge Charger for people who grew up with The Fast and The Furious franchise, for example). However, if we narrow down the list to, let’s say, fictional cars with the best gadgets, then there would be the Batmobile, countless Bond cars, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, Black Beauty from The Green Hornet, and KITT from Knight Rider.
Of all the cars mentioned, the Batmobile is probably the most popular, so we’re not going to use it for this fictional showdown. Following closely behind it are The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty and Knight Rider’s KITT—both of which were clad in black and armed with nifty gadgets and futuristic technology used by their crime-fighting protagonists. Yes, there’s a two-decade gap between these iconic cars for when they appeared on TV, but their similarities make for an exciting match-up!
We imagined what would happen if Michael Knight and the Britt Reid-Kato duo bumped into each other in a crossover universe and showed off their cars. Between the 1966 Chrysler Imperial Crown (The Green Hornet) and the 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (Knight Rider), which would best the other? Let’s find out!
In the Red Corner: The Green Hornet’s 1966 Imperial Crown a.k.a. Black Beauty
In 1936, George Trendle and Fran Striker created The Green Hornet, the fictional story of a wealthy, crime-fighting masked vigilante—three years ahead of Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s Batman. “The Green Hornet” was the alter ego of protagonist Britt Reid, whose sidekick was known as Kato—the driver of the Black Beauty.
The Black Beauty was a 1966 Imperial Crown with a custom front end—courtesy of custom car designer and fabricator, Dean Jeffries—which featured a large vertical grille and rotating headlights with round, green lenses. These characteristics were so iconic that the makers of the 2011 movie adaptation decided to stick with them.
Black Beauty’s Gizmos and Technology
The green rotating headlights were just the tip of the Black Beauty’s coolness. The Black Beauty was armed with two cartridge-fed .30 caliber M1919 Browning machine guns that popped off the hood for head-on firepower, front and rear bumpers that fired FIM-92 and AIM-92A stinger missiles, and a grille that concealed an M2 flamethrower. But that’s not all—the Black Beauty also had a pair of Benelli M2 20-gauge non-lethal shotguns that popped out of the headlight bezels.
Additional armaments included trunk-mounted .30 caliber M1919A6 Browning machine guns, anti-riot wheel spikes, six AR-15 Carbines, and three 12-gauge door guns per suicide door. The car could also launch a small flying audio/video surveillance device, also known as “the scanner.”
In the Blue Corner: Knight Rider’s 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am a.k.a. KITT
Knight Rider was a franchise that first appeared on television in 1982 and included a total of four TV series that ran from 1982 to 2009. The first series starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, an ex-military officer and ex-cop recruited by a private crime-fighting organization. Michael Knight drove a sleek and high-tech 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, which was actually a robot.
Named “Knight Industries Two Thousand” or “Knight Rider 2000 (KITT),” the sci-fi Firebird was equipped with an artificial intelligence (AI) cybernetic microprocessor programmed to protect Knight and all of mankind. KITT had a blacked-out body finish and red LED bar in between the hood and the bumper. It had the capability to speak through its Voice Synthesizer as well as imitate and simulate other sounds.
KITT’s High-Tech Features
KITT’s main edge in this fictional match-up against the Black Beauty is its ability to think, speak, and adapt to its surroundings. In the show, it could communicate with humans and was fully aware of itself. Furthermore, KITT was designed to obey the orders of its creators. Fans of the Transformers franchise would find KITT to be a bit similar to Bumblebee, as it could automatically play music and video and even featured video games via its advanced infotainment system. Since it could think on its own, the autonomous system could also drive the car and was believed to perform better than any man or woman could.
Apart from its AI processor, KITT also featured a molecularly bonded shell armor plating that protected it from almost all kinds of firearms and explosions, though it could be damaged by heavy artillery. The name of this technology’s pretty rad: the “Tri-Helical Plasteel 1000 MBS.” The shell also featured thermal-resistant coating that could withstand up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. KITT was powered by a turbojet engine paired to an automatic 8-speed turbodrive transmission that propelled it in just 4.4 seconds in a quarter-mile sprint. Still not enough? Michael Knight could also activate the turbo boost rockets, which sent the car flying in excess of 200 mph.
Considering how compact the body of the Firebird Trans Am was, KITT had some pretty complex gizmos stuffed inside it. Other features included an anamorphic equalizer for infrared and X-ray vision capability, winch, grappling hook, flame thrower, tear gas, evasive flares, and many more.
Black Beauty vs KITT: Which one wins?
The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty is superior when it comes to guns. If it goes guns blazing, anything in its path could quickly turn into dust—though maybe not KITT. In terms of arsenal, the Black Beauty has an advantage, as it is obviously designed to destroy. KITT is exactly the opposite, as it is designed to protect. KITT’s evasive and smart technology—including silent mode, traction tire spikes, surveillance mode, and a bomb sniffer—could save it from the Black Beauty’s wrath of total destruction.
However, if the Black Beauty manages to launch its FIM-92 and AIM-92A missiles, KITT’s evasive flare may not be enough. Its shell is only effective against firearms and explosions, and a FIM-92 missile is considered heavy artillery. However, thanks to KITT’s AI system, it can easily counter any human inputs by Kato and Reid by analyzing the missiles’ patterns and their surroundings—even if Michael Knight fails to. Also, with all the Black Beauty’s heavy weapons, it wouldn’t be able to keep up with KITT’s superior turbojet engine.
The match-up is really all about firepower and speed. The Black Beauty is undeniably a well-equipped gadget car, but when matched against the KITT, it needs to up its engine power to keep up. Nonetheless, though KITT could easily outrun the Black Beauty, it can’t outrun an FIM-92 missile, which can travel up to 1,700 mph. Even it if did outrun one, the Black Beauty still has tons of it. One hit can damage not only KITT’s protective shell but the entire car.
KITT, however, has a lethal weapon up its sleeve: a high-powered ultra-frequency modulated laser that can cut through steel plating. Laser travels extremely faster than a missile, which gives the Black Beauty no chance for evasion. But that’s only if the KITT survives the Black Beauty’s initial barrage.
We’ll have to say we’ll give this one to KITT, only for the laser. If the laser needs to charge (since it should use a lot of energy), the Black Beauty could get the upper hand.
Don’t agree with the result of our fictional head to head? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments!