About 30 years ago, the term “smart car” would have referred almost exclusively to a car imbued with artificial intelligence (like KITT from Knight Rider), but nowadays we use the term to deal with any car that has advanced technology. Since we’ve only seen a few “smart” cars in the entertainment industry since Knight Rider made a comeback in 2008 (Cars doesn’t count), we’re activating the nostalgia filter and highlighting our top five original “smart” cars throughout the years.
Herbie the Lovebug
Herbie is our favorite sentient 1963 Volkswagen Beetle. He first made his film debut in 1968 in The Love Bug and quickly drove his way into our hearts. Even though Herbie couldn’t communicate, we always knew where we stood with him, mostly due to his emotive behavior. Herbie even had a reboot movie in 2005. Copart and Herbie actually have a lot in common—we both share a passion and history in auto racing.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Inspired by the 1964 novel by Ian Fleming, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Chitty2 Bang2) is a magical Paragon Panther car that can fly, float and drive. The car received more attention by the 1968 film adaptation where the car’s design was based off of Count Louis Zborowski’s line of racing cars from the 1920s. Though the car used in the movie was made from scratch using a Ford 3000 V6 engine, it’s surprisingly street legal (and owned by Peter Jackson). Even without the musical and dance numbers, Chitty2 Bang2 still seems like a pretty useful car to have.
KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand)
KITT is an artificial intelligence processor from the television series Knight Rider which released in 1982. Originally a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, KITT has a ton of added features including micro scanners, voice projection, a true “cruise control” where KITT could self-drive, be a flame thrower, and Bluetooth… before Bluetooth was even a thing. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of what KITT could truly do, but the car has been so iconic, it’s also made some surprising appearance beyond TV/movies—KITT was featured as a downloadable character in Rocket League.
No list of “smart” cars would be complete without including Christine from Stephen King’s acclaimed 1983 novel (and movie adaptation). This red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury isn’t necessarily a moral example of what we’d like to see in a car, rather it’s a possessed vehicle with a penchant for road rage. But we still have to admit, having a car that could repair itself would be super useful. Leave it to Stephen King to make driving in cars even more terrifying.
Danny the Street
Though Danny the Street is technically a sentient teleporting streetcar with a penchant for molecular reconstruction, Danny isn’t not a car. Danny the Street contains cars, shops, clubs and houses for the people who live there and can even communicate via billboards, sky writings, or headlight Morse code. Danny’s origins began in the 1990 Doom Patrol comics and has since been introduced on DC Universe’s streaming television series: Doom Patrol. We haven’t seen that car yet, but there’s always season two!
Do you have a favorite fictional “smart” car? Let us know in the comments below. In the meantime, check out the selection of real smart cars at Copart. They may be salvaged, but at least they’re not alive.