What happened with Hot Ones in the 1980s for Hot Wheels sent them in the path of what they are today. In 1981, Hot Ones wheels were introduced, which had gold-painted hubs, thinner axles for speed, and additional suspension that most production Hot Wheels lacked. Ultra Hots wheels, which looked like the wheels found on a or a , were introduced in 1984 and had other speed improvements. Hot Wheels started offering models based on 1980s sports and economy cars, like the or . In 1983, A new style of wheel called Real Riders were introduced, which had real rubber tires. Despite the fact that they were very popular, the Real Riders line was short-lived, because of high production costs. In the late 1980s, the Blue Card blister pack was introduced, which would become the basis of Hot Wheels cards still used today.
Two other innovations were introduced briefly in Hot Wheels cars in the 1980s - Thermal Color Change paint, and rotating Crash Panel vehicles. The former were able to change color on exposure to hot or cold water, and there were an initial release of 20 different cars, available as sets of three vehicles. The latter were vehicles with a panel that, on contact, would rotate to reveal a flip side which appeared to be heavily dented. Variations in crash-panels included front, rear and side panels, the last of whose mechanism has proven to be the most durable.
I have complicated feelings about Elio, the company that’s working to bring a mass-market three-wheel car to American drivers. I love the idea of cheap, three-wheel cars with innovative designs. I also don’t have much confidence in how Elio can accomplish this goal. There is one thing I think Elio could be doing very well, but it’s not something they want: opening this segment to cars from India.
However, 1972 and 1973 were slow years. Only 7 new models were made in 1972. Of the 24 models appearing for 1973, only 3 were new models. Also the cars changed from Mattel's in house Spectraflame colors to mostly-drab, solid enamel colors, which mainline Hot Wheels cars still use today. Due to low sales, and the fact that the majority of the castings were not re-used in later years, the 1972-3 models are known to be very collectible.