“If you’re going back in time, do it in style,” Doc used to say in Back to the Future. He was referring to the silver Delorean that so impressed TV viewers in the 1980s. But before that there was another one, black and chatty, that made children perform dangerous leaps on their bicycles, imitating a scene from the Knight Rider series. “Hit the turbo boost,” they used to say.
And now Celestico del Pino González, a 45-year-old mechanic from Estepona, has spent years preparing to travel back in time in a style all of his own. His feelings range between not wanting to show off and pride in seeing his finished work: an impressive KITT which hasn’t missed a single detail of the original and which he says he would only sell for 150,000 euros.
He came to Marbella to show SUR a car which he believes defies even Elon Musk’s dreams. His car talks, spits oil out of the back and the number plate flips over to say Knight Rider, the series which began in the USA in 1982.
He arrives with his wife Ana and their two children. “It looks better at night,” he says, straight away. It’s 6.30pm and the sun is beating down on the shiny bonnet of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, the original model of the car that was modified for the series and which he bought cheaply in Spain. That was the easy bit. The difficult bit was making the modifications, not just mechanical and electronic, but fundamentally cosmetic ones.
The interior is exact. The same cream velvet seats, the voice synthesiser lights, the interminable array of buttons on the dashboard and the steering wheel shaped like the controls of a light aircraft. “It’s not easy to drive. It’s a problem on hairpin bends,” he admits. But it’s a head-turner. Everyone wants a better look when they see it.
He shows us a communicator watch, like the one actor David Hasselhoff used to talk to KITT, and orders the car to open its doors, start the engine and talk. “Hola, Michael”, the car says, in the voice of Carlos Revilla, who dubbed Hasselhoff's voice in Spain.
He knows it is not the only one in Spain; there are five or six others and they are planning a get-together in September. He started to build his in 2014. “It has been very hard work,” he says.
And off they go, the light on the radiator oscillating from left to right. It only needed the boot to open and Devon, the director of the Foundation for Law and Government to appear, and the dream would have been complete.