There’s a lot to love about the former Knight Rider and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, but one of our favorite things is his humble candor — he’s never been afraid to just tell it as it is. After 40-plus years in the business, the international superstar radiates positivity as he talks to us about what’s on the horizon, which includes a tour in the fall, a possible Knight Rider movie and a two-hour special on History titled Battle of the ’80s Supercars With David Hasselhoff. The special, airing Wednesday, July 10 at 8/7c, is part of History’s now annual Car Week (July 7-13). Here the Hoff shares some insights on just how fun and enlightening this special truly is.
How the Knight Rider car KITT and the special came about.
David Hasselhoff: What happened was they called me and said, “We would like you to do the History channel.” And I said, “No, I don’t really want to do reality television, and I’m not really into the car situation.” And they said, “But it’s really about the Knight Rider car coming true.” And I said, “You know what? That’s an interesting idea!” When we were doing Knight Rider [which ran for four seasons from 1982-86], we had no idea. Michael Scheffe, who is the guy who created the car, was a student at an art college in Pasadena — now he’s a teacher there — and he just went out and designed the car, and he designed the Back to the Future car, too. … I went to his place, and he was teaching there, and he showed me some of the original sketches and talked about how this whole thing came about. … I also got to compare all the cars of today with the KITT car. And I got to see some of the most mind-boggling technology that’s out there. … We are going to secret places that develop stuff for the Air Force. Unbelievable cars that open and talk to your watch, that drive themselves. It’s just everything that we can put on paper, like in a coloring book with KITT, came true.
The special reunited Hasselhoff with other ’80s stars.
I got to renew my friendship with Erik Estrada [Ponch from CHiPs] and Dirk Benedict [Faceman from The A-Team]. We were like three kids, like 14-year-olds. … We were all having a great laugh about how we survived, and we’re still doing it, and we had so much fun. We had too much fun, to be honest. And they were trying to get us back on track to do the show. I’m usually the funniest guy around, I think, and these guys were funnier than me. And I’m going, “I love these guys! They’re great.” And we ended up becoming fast friends again. And then another girl showed up from The Dukes of Hazzard, and Morgan Fairchild comes spinning in as a cameo, and Catherine Bach.
The Battle eventually turns into an actual race.
I had a car from Knight Rider — I don’t know if it was the real one, or if it was a replica, but it was in pretty good shape. And then Erik had his old motorcycle, and Dirk had the van. And the van was in pretty damn good shape. The motorcycle was a little bit scary. I said to Erik, “You’re actually going to ride this thing?” Well, the best part about Erik is he didn’t crash. … But he could drive it. I was impressed. I mean, I know how to ride a bike and I’ve gone down on a bike and it scared the hell out of me a long time ago. And I said forget it. But Dirk and the van, he was crazy. It was really hard to catch him. … The car I was driving was really squirrely, and I was all over the place. But I like that. I’m really good at driving squirrely and all over the place.
Hoff shares a bit on his first real experience in a self-driving car.
A lot of what Scheffe imagined is coming true with cars driving themselves. [As part of this special], I got to go to Google and meet Sergey [Sergey Brin is Google’s cofounder]. They picked me up in a self-driving car, and they said, “Take your hands off the wheel,” and actually sent me into heavy anxiety of, “Oh my God, the car is actually driving itself.” It was much different than the old days with Knight Rider where the car was driving itself, but really we were being towed, and somebody was reading the KITT car lines through a radio, whoever wanted to do it on the day.
Battle of the ’80s Supercars With David Hasselhoff airs on History Wednesday, July 10 at 8/7c