You may remember a post I’d written about my friend, Paolo, in Italy. That friendship started as a result of this site and, let me tell you, he is one of the most enthusiastic car enthusiasts I’ve ever met. In our email conversations we’ve tried to share about each others’ cultures and, though it was little surprise to hear of Italians’ love for cars, it was astonishing to learn how much of a following older American cars have garnered.
And these aren’t just the mainstream classics rather, in many cases, cars that were famous for movie and TV appearances. In this particular case, it is a Pontiac Firebird from the Knight Rider series but not just any Firebird. Allow me to explain.
Paolo is a huge fan of the show that starred a mildly-altered black Trans Am named KITT. So much so that he has actually schooled and corrected me on many of the show’s intricacies. Well, this Italian is not alone in his passion and actually co-owns a black Trans Am with a friend (though, it is a 1991 GTA).
It doesn’t stop there. Paolo has another friend who is also into Knight Rider and that’s where the subject picture comes in.
This other friend too wanted a piece of the series in her possession but realized that there were already a lot of KITT replicas in Italy. (Who knew?) So, to stand out she tapped her knowledge of the show and decided to have the only “Michael Long” replica in Italy. According to the storyline, Michael Long was Michael Knight’s original name before turning super hero; Mr. Long drove a stock 1982 Trans Am, the first Firebird seen in the series. That was all explained in the pilot episode, for those of you that missed it.
The lady that owns the car was described by Paolo as “crazy” for having taken on the restoration project—by herself. He recalled the day it arrived in Genova in a container, “full of rust, broken engine, blocked transmission and holes on the platform, big like a cat! She was really sad because she bought it thinking it was a good car. But now it is something great!”
Indeed Paolo, great indeed! I can’t remember the last time I saw an example that clean here in the States. Yet, there, in Italy, sits a proud tribute to Pontiac and Michael Knight… er, I meant Michael Long. I think. Paolo will tell me if I got that right.
Photo taken by Paolo on September 13, 2014, at Hills Race at Rivanazzano Airport, near Milano, Italy where he said approximately 600 American cars participated.
Paolo, tu sei l’entusiasmo è contagioso e vostri contributi molto apprezzato. Grazie, mio buon amico.