EV To Gas Conversion? 1980 HMV Free-Way

Every so often here at Barn Finds, we see vehicles that were originally gas-powered but were converted to battery power. This 1980 HMV Free-Way is the exact opposite, it was originally an EV and was converted to having a gas engine at some point. This one can be found here on eBay in Perrysburg, Ohio. The seller has a $5,000 buy-it-now price listed or you can make an offer.

These are really interesting vehicles, and one of the most unusually-named vehicles of all time. For a vehicle named Free-Way, or Freeway, they are maybe one of the few vehicles that a person would never want to take on an actual freeway. Still, this type of three-wheel vehicle with two wheels in front is much more stable and fun to drive than one configured with a single wheel in front and two wheels in the back. In many states, three-wheeled vehicles can be licensed as motorcycles.

High Mileage Vehicles (HMV), Inc. was based in Burnsville, Minnesota and they produced around 700 vehicles before going bankrupt in 1982. This is around the time when all sorts of companies were jumping on the mpg bandwagon with wacky small vehicles, such as the HMV Free-Way and the CitiCar/Comuta-Car and others. These small, oddball vehicles aren’t really too popular here so I don’t expect to see a lot of positive comments but hopefully a few folks enjoy seeing unusual vehicles like this one.

This tangle of wires instantly scares me but hopefully things can be fixed inside. This is the only interior photo other than one highlighting the odometer with 354 miles showing. If this is really one of the uber-rare electric versions it would be worth restoring it back to that configuration if a person were into such things as originality and rarity. Some sources mention that there weren’t any EV or diesel versions sold even though those were both optional power sources.

The engine is of undetermined size but a 12-hp or 16-hp would have been available and legend has it that a diesel version also was available, as well as a battery-powered version. As I mentioned, some say that none of those two versions were ever sold due to a limited range for the EV and a high cost for the diesel upgrade. If you know any differently, please let us know in the comments section. The seller says that the clutch is missing so no matter what is powering this one isn’t moving until that clutch is replaced. Are any of you into these unusual vintage microcars?


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  1. Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice find, Scotty. I love the proximity of the fire extinguisher to the nest of loose wires. Foreshadowing? And I guess mirrors were sacrificed in the name of eliminating drag?

    Like 2
  2. michael h streuly

    What a piece of crap. Powered by a lawn mower engine. I bid 5 dollars.

    Like 5
  3. Classic Steel

    Them Ohio M A G A folks and their attempts to stop green efforts will never end.

    Maybe a coal fired locomotive 🚂 engine could of made a better statement. Lol

    Personally i would have went with riding
    lawnmower conversion with stereo and beer cooler glovebox. 😜

    enough kidding…
    The wires are a mess for sure snd probably left over EV wires.

    One might of had better results ripping all wires out and starting more basics to battery, coil and alternator and ignition
    Then branching out to lights etc. 😉

    Good luck on sale and go Buckeyes👍

    Like 1
  4. Pete

    I’m certain you could get a CVT from one of the many scooters available….

    Otherwise, I don’t see how that could be licensed without mirrors and no sign of any ever mounted.

    Like 1
    • Mr. Kelly Johnson

      The small holes on the back side of the fenders are where the mirrors went. Had two of these, loved them both.

  5. Darrun

    Looks like a fun project to me, but I think the price is a tad much. Having owned a few King Midgets with anywhere from the original 9 HP engine up to a Swapped in 16HP, the “lawnmower engine” will propel it down the road fast enough. My 16HP KM would easily reach 45, This is fast enough for around town cruising. The wiring harness would be a fairly simple fix. I just rewired my 31 Model A with a harness from Ebay for under $100.

    Like 6

    A wonderful madd eccentric car. . the only shortcoming is no reverse. everything else about it is just fun I would still like to own one. be happy to talk to you. P.S. i used to live in perrysburg, but am now on the east side of the state

    Like 1
  7. bigdoc

    I drive a Trike {Harley Electra Glide} and I love the thing I have seen several comments against them but they a very stable and a blast to drive. No need to put my legs down to hold up 800 lbs of throbbing motorcycle. Just enjoy the ride.

    Like 2
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      I drive a 1977 goldwing with a custom sidecar I built myself. It is very stable and I can travel a steady 120kph it will go faster but 120kph keeps up with traffic. I built the sidecar in 2013/14 and has given me zero grief. It has air ride suspension and an independent disc brake to help the bike when stopping. This trike thing that we are looking at needs some upgrade I’m thinking you rob the suspension and power train out of a 500cc quad and build this into a street legal quad or tike. I’d rewire it and put full lighting on it as well as some mirrors. This would be a great commuter vehicle.

      Like 2
  8. MikeH

    I’ve driven one of these–and it was pretty bad. I’m not sure there was a suspension system, the power was non existent, and your eyes are on a hubcap level with other cars. That said, I still remember it and I have forgotten most of the 300hp V8s that I’ve driven. I love innovation.

  9. Mark

    A previous co-worker had one powered by the 12hp Tecumseh. He took a bus to MN, and drove the thing back to KS. He daily drove it until the engine started burning oil, and another co-worker swapped in a 350cc Honda twin motorcycle engine. He flipped it twice after that, and sold it.
    I have the original engine.

  10. chrlsful

    crosley, mesersmitd, king midget…gimmie oneadoz.
    Like tiny house – if its quality I wouldn’t mind…
    AND I can fit…
    (grew up on fiats, lancia & alfas)

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