The Hot Ones debuted in 1981 with a new wheel design not seen before on a Hot Wheels!. Before they had always been a Cragar style 5 spoke mag wheel.
This new wheel design also had a thinner axle that brought back some of the lost track speed that had made Hot Wheels famous. At first this new wheel was refereed to just as "Hot Ones" or "HO" for many years. Mattel eventually distributed later casting versions of these cars with Silver Foil (SHO
) wheels fitted. This created the need for a change from just the "Hot Ones" to become known as the "Gold Hot Ones" (GHO
Although many collector books and guides note many of the first cars issued to be 1982 releases, they were 2 released in 1981. They are the Packing Pacer and Science Friction. Additional card casting references are needed to verify any of the other original released castings to have been available in 1981 - if any. Without a documented blisterpack - it is hard to tell release dates from back then. This was also the time frame that Mattel was bringing the Malaysia factory on line to start producing Hot Wheels in 1982.
The first castings were released on the regular (blue mainline(?) blister cards - with or without "The Hot Ones" printed in a "Ka-Pow" type caption format. Card backs would change over time to show off this new casting style with a completely new blister pack art work used on an orange/red back ground.
Bob Rosas is credited with creating the The Hot Ones Series line up - "We did a enormous amount of testing to get a wheel and a thinner axle to reduce friction. Only then could we make the claim "Fastest Non-Powered Metal Cars." - Bob Rosas, Hot Wheels designer/engineer 1969-1989.
1981 Casting List
Packing Pacer (orange - Hong Kong)
Science Friction (white - Hong Kong)
1982 Casting List
Datsun 200SX (white - red, orange and yellow tampoprint - Hong Kong)
Datsun 200SX (white - red and yellow tampoprint - Malaysia)
Datsun 200SX (yellow - Hong Kong)
Front Runnin' Fairmont (mf red - Hong Kong)
Packin Pacer (white - Hong Kong)
Porsche 911 (black - Malaysia)
Science Friction (red - Hong Kong)
1983 Casting List
'80s Firebird (red - Hong Kong)
'80s Firebird (red - Malaysia)
Datsun 200SX (mf gold - Malaysia)
Peugeot 505 (Metallic Gold - Hong Kong)
Peugeot 505 (Blue - Mexico only)
Science Friction (mf red- Malaysia)
Z-Whiz (black - France)
1985 Casting List
Pontiac Fier0 2M4 (white - Malaysia)