1 Of 700: 1982 HMV Free-Way 450E Deluxe

Here is another unusual car for you lovers of anything out of the ordinary, and I know that you’re out there. This 1982 HMV Free-Way can be found here on craigslist in Fountain Valley, California. The seller is asking $3,000 for this cool and odd three-wheeler. Thanks to Roger for sending in this tip!

With a 100+ mpg rating, the High-Mileage Vehicle, or HMV Free-Way would get 5-6 times the mileage of the typical hulking SUV. Plan on not letting a texting, eating, makeup-applying SUV driver hit you head on and you’ll be ok in a small car like this one. Or, is it a motorcycle? In some areas, they can be licensed as a motorcycle and that was reportedly the original intent. Although, with a 12 or 16-hp engine I’m not sure if they would be as safe as a motorcycle would be, evasive-maneuver-wise. The Free-Way – an unusual name since it would almost never be a good idea to drive one on the freeway – was made in Burnsville, Minnesota for four short years, ending in 1982, at least in Burnsville. There are reports of other companies taking over production for a few years.

This view ruins the otherwise interesting idea of having 1 headlight, 1 passenger, a 1-cylinder engine, and 1 door. Two tail lights aren’t needed for a motorcycle so a design and marketing opportunity was lost there in my opinion. The Tecumseh-sourced 12-hp single got 100-110 mpg but the “sport” version had a 16-hp single for more power but only 60 mpg or so. The seller says that this one comes with a bigger 19 HP motor and also a long-range tank, radio, heater, and oil-cooler. I don’t know if the 19-hp is a factory engine or not, who knows in the waning days of a company like this. I can also see what looks like two King Midgets stacked on top of each other just ahead of this Free-Way in two of the photos and it’s impossible to mistake the CitiCar under that pile of stuff, too. I love this person’s collection! Have any of you heard of an HMV Free-Way?


  1. 71FXSuperGlide

    I’ve never seen one of these. Neat.

    Like 2
  2. Karl

    DELUXE ? man I’d hate to see what the base model looked like !

    Like 11
  3. Rick

    Buddy of mine bought one a few years back. He took the body off and refurbished the engine and all the electrics. He loves it – but definitely does not want to take it on the highway!

    Like 6
  4. Sandy Claws

    The radio show guy who does financial advice, Clark Howard, was one of the initial investors in this company. Interesting fact, there is no reverse gear in these, need to manually push it backward to get out of a parking spot.

    Like 5
    • Chinga Trailer

      There’s quite a few of these out there and I doubt anyone ever drove one long enough to wear it out. Always reminded me of an amusement park ride.

      Like 3
  5. ck

    Back in the 80’s, a friend of mine in Phoenix bought a Freeway, and he drove it home. He said it was like wearing a crash helmet, that has a single cylinder engine in it, along with your head ! (Hot and very noisy) It also did not have great ventilation. He sold it to a friend of ours. The friend was trying to push it backwards (no reverse in these vehicles), and he slipped and hit his chin on the front bumper. As far as I know, he never drove it after that !

    Like 6
  6. Mike

    Back when these came out, I wanted one so badly they were so different. Thank goodness I had no idea how to get one.

    Like 3
  7. hugh crawford

    Hmm, wonder if the CALAMARI vanity plate is taken yet.

    Like 2
  8. dav

    I wonder why no one spotted the City car in the background. It’s an electric car form 1970 something .

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I mentioned it in the last paragraph, dav. I’m a huge fan of those cars made from 1974 to around 1979.

      Like 2
  9. H5mind

    At last! A perfect candidate for that Suzuki Hayabusa engine you have sitting around.

    Like 4
  10. Brakeservo

    Uh, dav, sometimes one should read the write up, not just look at the pretty pictures, the writer mentioned both the Citi Car and the two King Midgets ’bout halfway through.

    Like 4
  11. Greg

    This looks amazing like the basis for a new car that is supposedly being developed for release in the next couple years called the ‘Elio’…this is the link to their web page. This has to be the concept for them.

    Like 3
    • dweezilaz

      Elio is always coming in the next couple of years

      Like 4
      • Brakeservo

        And Elio follows the Corbin, which followed the HMV which followed the Dale, which followed the Bond MiniCar, which followed a whole slew of prewar cycle cars . . . those who don’t think history repeats itself have never studied it.

        Like 3
  12. John Taggart Member

    what goes around comes around new to the automobile production list will soon be the Elio An Eilo looks much like this but with todays design and technology is a quite a different 3 wheeled vehicle. Spearheaded by Paul Elio a former GM plant in Louisiana will be the birthplace of this vehicle. Back when gas was over 3 bucks a gallon and this company was seeking funding I did an investment and what they call all in down payment, It was expected to come off in about 2 years that was now near 4 soon I hope they will begin production crossing my fingers they make it!!

    • Brakeservo

      Not Tucker but more appropriately, Davis Playboy.

    • George

      The prototype Elio. Oh wait, they have yet to go into production, has a 3 cylinder motor from a Geo Metro. Current plans for power have changed several times.

  13. john Taggart Member

    Im finding that out I hope it gets here before God calls me at 71 now 4 years after I ordered only he knows if I will ever get mine before time runs out or Elio goes under

    Like 1
  14. Kwikamc

    A friend has one, it is powered by a 5hp electric motor. It only has 1400 miles on it, the motor has a seized bearing. But there are plans to fix it.

    Like 2
  15. Dale Davis Member

    This one is local to me if someone needs a hand. I have a trailer and space to store it inside.

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      That is incredibly nice of you to offer that, Dale! I hope that someone takes you up on that nice offer.

      Like 2
  16. Eddie Nash

    On the Elio think TUCKER!

  17. John

    A friend bought one of these and actually commuted to work on I-81 through Harrisburg, PA. He was always … eccentric. He got two bright yellow plastic machine guns that had red lights in the muzzle when you “fired” them. He mounted one on each front fender. Like I said, he was eccentric!

    He also found out the hard way that three-wheeled cars did not handle well when there is a mound of snow built up in the center of the lane. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt when the car slid off the road and the car was light enough that it was easy to push out with one or two other helpers. Unfortunately, the car wasn’t seriously hurt.

    • George

      A couple of friends had similar stories about driving Subaru 360s in winter. One said that all it took were a few kicks to get it back on the road after sliding off. When in doubt, PUNT!

      Like 1
  18. George

    I used to see one for sale near Myrtle Beach when I lived in NC.

  19. Rick

    Years ago I bought one of these from a friend for $200.00. I drove it a little, but it was really not very safe as it suffered some damage when he tipped it over. I sold it to the man who owns the Rocket Car in Cleveland for $250.00 I think. I nover asked him what became of it.

  20. Mark

    I have one of the 12hp Tecumseh engines out of a co-workers’ Freeway that he wore out.
    Another co-worker removed it, and installed a 350 twin Honda motorcycle engine. This was way overpowered, and become more dangerous, if that’s possible.
    I tried to buy it, but he wouldn’t sell to anyone he knew.

    Like 1
  21. Brick

    Kinda want to make a bid just to see that garage. FreeWay, King Midget, CitiCar: The seller must be a connoisseur of exotica miniatura.

    Like 1
  22. Doug Smith

    I bought one of these new, and it would not go 100mph. It would go up to about 75, then you could feel lift like you would soon have no control over your fate. I did flip it wheel to wheel on I-44 just west of STL. It hit once quickly on the right front door post and required some minor fiberglass work. It had a belt, that if it burned and locked the back wheel, would flip you if you did not stay perfectly straight. When I saw that concrete approaching, my first thought was “wish I had my seat belt on” and second was “lock yourself down in the seat” I had a minor knee bruise, but the honeymoon was over and I sold it.

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