1 of 700 Made: 1980 HM Freeway

Please excuse my ignorance but when I first came across this three-wheeled oddity listed for sale here on Craigslist in China, Maine I assumed it was some type of go-kart.  I’d never seen a Freeway microcar before and since this one is missing its roof, it does, in fact, look a lot like a go-kart.  According to the seller, this thing was on the road up until last year when the previous owner flipped it in a traffic accident and thus “took the top off.”  In need of a fair amount of work, this rare car is being offered at the QVC-like price of $1,999 OBO.

According to the seller, work that will need to be performed to restore this unique car includes fiberglass repairs to the roof and pillars.  The back window also needs to be re-installed and the seller claims he has “most of the parts” needed to do the work, including “glazing gaskets for the windows.”  Wikipedia provides an interesting history on these three-wheeled wonders manufactured in Minnesota from 1979-1982.  Intended for use as a commuter vehicle, the HM or “High Mileage” Freeway was constructed by mounting a two-piece fiberglass body to a tubular steel frame.

My dad had a 1970 Ski-Doo Nordic and it’s not just the goldish-yellow fiberglass of this car that brings back memories of that old “snow machine” (as they like to call them up north).  Check out the snowmobile-like belt drive!  According to Wikipedia, “final drive to the rear wheel was by chain” making for an interesting belt transmission chain drive combo.  Most Freeways were powered by either a 12 or 16 horsepower motor but the seller fails to disclose which motor is in this car.  Details are somewhat hazy as to whether the motor is operational at this time, but the seller mentions the previous owner “had it all running” after the accident.

Pictures of the cramped interior are a bit tight, but they give a pretty good idea of how confining it must be to ride in one of these things.  The previous owner’s rollover accident might have been a pretty harrowing ordeal indeed!  The seat cover looks to be sagging, but no rips or tears are visible in the fabric.  A switch is missing on the dash, but the owner makes no mention of it being an issue in the ad.  Without question, it’s apparent this car needs some TLC.  A quick internet search reveals surviving Freeways offered in the $5,000 to beyond $12,000 range!   The opportunity to own a rare piece of oddball automotive history doesn’t come around too often, so for someone talented in the area of fiberglass repair and restoration, is $1,999 OBO a reasonable price?

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  1. Jack in NWPA Member

    Ya just had to start my day with a turkey like this! Have a great Thanksgiving all. Holding out for a four wheel barn find.

  2. Howard A Member

    It is pretty cool. Apparently, they only came with the single Tecumseh, and had no reverse, although, an electric reverse was offered. They did offer an open air model, and had the smaller motor( 12hp) and the enclosed had the bigger motor(16 hp) they claimed a top speed of 65mph( rolling eyes) and 80 mpg. (that I could believe) I’d have to think this vehicle is highly unstable at speed, and probably why it was rolled. Some things just look better on paper.

    • Andy

      I don’t know, my Yamaha 200 has 22 hp and will do 85; lop off 6 hp and swap the bike’s light weight for the “car’s” “aerodynamics,” and 65 might not be out of the question.

      • Howard A Member

        Big difference there is, your Yamaha puts out the 22 hp ( sounds a bit much for a 200) at 8500 rpm, this maybe 3500, with the gubnor wired open. You want to go 60 mph on wheelbarrow tires, have at it. Someone found out it was unstable.

    • John H

      A friend had one of these in 1980 and used it for his 45-mile commute to work, on Interstate 81 through Harrisburg, PA. It would indeed keep up with traffic at 65 or slightly better. He said it was stable at highway speeds, but I can’t imagine being on the road with truck traffic and all the crazy 4-wheel drivers. I-81 then was just slightly less busy and congested than it is now, and now it’s a madhouse.

      His was the same shade of yellow and he had mounted toy machine guns on the front fenders. The guns would light up when you pulled the trigger — you could get away with some things then that would never fly now!

      He sold his after rolling it on the highway in a snow storm. The single rear drive wheel rides, of course, in the center of the lane where all the slush builds up. He never did explain why he drove it in the snow.

  3. ccrvtt

    The opportunity to select your own oddball coffin also doesn’t come around too often…

  4. Rock On

    Looks like something that Scotty G. would drive.

  5. Mark S.

    Freeway is a total misnomer, anyone in their right mind wouldn’t take this thing out on the 4 lane ever.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  6. Ben T. Spanner

    Similar to a King Midget, but more aerodynamic. King Midgets were built in Athens Ohio and many had single cylinder Kohler engines and automatic transmissions using variable pulleys.
    King Midgets shared their “styling” with golf carts.

    • LAB3

      Had a chance to see one of those and many other King Midgets at a mini mall in Athens this summer. It’s unfortunate that we have so many laws to protect ourselves from ourselves these days to put newer versions on the road.

      • canadainmarkseh Member

        But we have newer versions there called auto cycles and some of them will do 200 kph ( sorry for metric I live in Canada )

  7. Kenneth Carney

    Hi Rock On! Thanks for the lead on the
    Ford van up in Tallahassee Fl. Showed
    it to Mom and she is really interested in
    buying it. Two things have to happen
    first though–raising the cash and hope-
    fully getting our healthcare provider to
    help with the cost of making the van over
    to fit her needs. Even designing some of
    the things like the ramp myself, it will still
    take a lot of cash to fab up everything
    we’ll need to make it happen. But at least
    it’s a race now. All we need now is time
    and prayer. We are very thankful to all
    our friends here on Barn Finds for helping
    us solve this very large problem. Happy
    Thanksgiving to all!

    • Ken Nelson

      Kenneth Carney, if your mom needs a handicap van, which will accept a wheelchair with a docking lock for the chair, suggest you look at buying a used one. My mom, 98 and still trucking, needed one & I found used HC vans with ramps & other things could be had pretty reasonably if you’re willing to look for one on CL or Ebay.
      The conversion cost for modifying a new or used van is around $20k just for the mods, which involve dropping the floor & other major stuff such as remote controls for door & ramp. I found a nice 128K mile Dodge Grand caravan in ca. for $5500 in v. good condition & everything working. Later on I saw others advertised for similar or even lower prices, as once they’re modified, what else do you do with them? So far only thing I’ve replaced is the alternator. This could be a way to eliminate all the effort to modify a van & maybe the healthcare program would pick up the cost. We wrote it off on mom’s taxes as a medical deduction. Funny thing is, when mom doesn’t need to be moved, that ramp allows rolling all sorts of auto stuff up into it – trannys, blocks, stuff impossible to fit into a van without a dropped floor!

  8. Coventrycat

    Heck, I can get laughed at for free already and save 2k doing it. Khant get there from here, they say in ol’ Downeast.
    Eat much and nap plenty, friends!

  9. mikestuff

    I tried riding a motorbike in the late 60’s and hit a fence and tore the fence and my arm up pretty badly. I decided then and there that would be the last time I’d drive or ride something like that.
    To me, this “car” is similar. Slow, unsafe and not to mention ugly, but I do wish the best to whoever buys it.

  10. Gaspumpchas

    I’ve known 3 guys that flipped three wheeled cars like this and none survived. Good wall hanger. Be careful!

    Cheers and happy thanksgiving


  11. rod444

    Aw, you’d think from the comments that all BarnFinders are over the age of 90 and lost all sense of adventure. I love this reverse trike and would love to own it. Anyone happen to be traveling from the east coast clear across the country and want to throw it in your trunk for me?

    The upside is you wouldn’t invest a lot AND you’d have the talk of the next Show and Shine for pennies on the dollar compared to another rebuilt, highly polished 70 Camaro. Go wild, boys, get a Freeway!! lol

  12. Metoo

    Freeway? Only if you have a death wish.

  13. Lance

    I remember these from Asbury Park. They were electric powered then with long poles that went onto the ceiling, And look this ones even has a Tecumseh in it . Wow. Where’s the rope?

  14. Kenneth Carney

    This would make a great EV. Just don’t
    drive it on the freeway! Keep it on the
    side streets and you’ll be fine. Wouldn’t
    take it down Havendale Boulevard though. Some dimwitted driver would
    squash you like a grape. Is this where
    we got the Can Am spyder from? If it
    is, things haven’t changed all that much.
    You still have something to break your
    neck on. Gimme 4 wheels instead of
    3 any day.

  15. scottymac

    Paul Elio, your prototype is ready.

    • rod444

      @scottymac ohhh, man that burns! lol. A couple year’s ago that would be mean, but it’s not now. Cough up the goods Elio or at least stop pretending the Elio is actually going to be produced.

      • LAB3

        The Elio really has been a let down. Early on it was supposed to be built around a three cylinder Geo Metro drivetrain. If they would have started out as a kit car when there where still a bunch of Metros sitting in the junkyards it would have proven the concept and built some confidence for investors. I’d buy one in a hot minute.

  16. scottymac

    I wasn’t one of the “All In” depositors, so asked for my deposit back, after waiting five years. Surprised, I got a check for it.

    • rod444

      Well I’ll give him half a point for that. Of course, going begging for more money when you don’t return refunds probably would’ve been the nail in the coffin he was trying to avoid. Wonder what he did with the IPO money?

  17. Dirk

    Does it come with the original clown outfit?

    • Metoo

      Were there ever enough circuses for the other 699?

  18. Kenneth Carney

    Thanks for the tip Ken. Being the old fart
    I am, I’ll have to help from my neice to
    access Craigslist. $5500 is a very good
    price for a WC van–and you’re in California? I’ve always heard that used
    vehicle prices are over-inflated like the
    ones we see here in Florida. I once
    tried to buy a used WC van here in Florida
    back in ’05. The seller had a ’90’s model
    Chevy G-20 lift van for which he was
    asking $115K! The van had 225K miles
    showing and I felt the price was way too
    much money to ask for a 15 year old van
    wheelchair van or not. Craigslist may be
    a good thing but it’s deadly here in Florida. Two people have been shot to
    death while transacting vehicle sales
    here, and I won’t do a deal without armed
    backup. When I find a van, I and my family will be packing when we go to look
    at it. Can’t be too careful these days.

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