Lime Green MPG Machine: 1981 HMV Freeway

Made for a short four years and with only around 700 of them having been produced, it’s rare to see a vehicle like this 1981 HMV Freeway anywhere but online. We have written about them in the past and someone usually mentions that they either had one or currently have one. This lime green tri-wheeler can be found here on eBay in Benton, Arkansas, the birthplace of the “Silver Fox”, Charlie Rich – a famous country singer who is no longer with us, but I just thought it was a little fun fact. The seller has a $6,000 buy-it-now price listed for this interesting ride.

I really like these things but have never driven one. They were made in Burnsville, Minnesota from 1979 to 1982 and I’m not sure if I’ve seen a lime green one but this is the color that I’d want now. The brighter the better when you’re driving such a small vehicle. The Freeway was made during a time when manufacturers were trying to come up with the ultimate high-MPG vehicles and they got between 60 and 100 mpg depending on the speed.

They followed the Messerschmitt KR200 or Polaris Slingshot principle of having two wheels in the front and one in the back, giving them a much more stable configuration. Although, they were a bit higher than a Messerschmitt with taller wheels so the center of gravity was higher and they weren’t quite as confidence-inspiring to drive at speed. And, not on the Freeway, why they gave them that name is beyond me.

You’ll put your groceries in the rear cargo area and then you and you alone, since they only have a single-seat, will draw attention like crazy on the drive home again. The seller mentions that the seat “needs upholstered” but this vehicle looks fantastic to me. The dash looks perfect but they mention there are holes made by the shocks. I have never heard of that before on an HMV Freeway. It looks like there is a cap over the hole, I don’t see one on the other side so I’m not sure why they mention shocks instead of shock? Is it happening on both sides?

The HMV (High Mileage Vehicle) Freeway was available with four engine/motor options, although two of them – a 12hp or 16hp Tecumseh – were vastly more popular than a diesel option and a battery-powered option were. There are all kinds of rumors bouncing around on the ol’ interwebs about how none of the diesel Freeways were sold because of the cost and very, very few of the EV models left the factory, although we know of one that did. The seller says that it starts and runs great. Any thoughts on this HMV Freeway?


  1. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Those big old flathead singles were not very fuel efficient, didn’t have much power for their size, and were dirty pollution-wise.

    Seems to me that a newer, Fuel Injected motorcycle engine would be a far better choice, if the architecture would support such a swap.

    Like 9
    • MFerrell

      I was thinking the same thing.

      Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      DayDreamBeliver: 60 to 100 mpg wasn’t very fuel-efficient? You have better standards than I do! Just kidding…
      That was their factory mpg rating but I don’t know if we’ve heard from anyone who has owned one to get a real-world mpg rating.

      Like 1
  2. Moparman Moparman Member

    I wonder what would be the driver’s maximum height and weight limit? :-)

    Like 1
  3. Cal

    I drove one almost 40 years ago one sunny afternoon. Very disappointing. Claustrophobic, slow, no reverse gear, and being around even a Pinto made me feel like a bug ready to be squashed. I have read that radio host Clark Howard was an early investor in these, a poor choice for him. Of course, back then we were all crazy about the then unheard of sum of a dollar a gallon gasoline.

    Like 2
  4. John Tamer

    Reminds me of the current Elio 3-wheeler that Elio Motors is trying to bring to market for less than $8,000. As I understand it they have built a few prototypes but nothing more.
    This vehicle which is technically a motorcycle because it has less than 4-wheels comes with a Scotty G. inspired 3-cylinder gasoline engine and your choice of a 5-speed manual or a semi-automatic transmission driving the front wheels.
    Check out
    for more information including specifications and photos.
    Has anybody heard if this is ever going to reach production and actually hit the streets?

    Like 1
    • Russell

      Yep, I was foolish enough to put down a reservation … doubt if I will ever see the vehicle and/or my deposit again. Elio Motors is $25M in debt as of October 2019. Sad, could have been fun. Russell

      Like 0
  5. Jimmy Novak

    A quick observation regarding the oft-heard trepidation over driving microcars in traffic:
    Few seem nervous over bicycling, motorcycling or mopeding amongst other vehicles on bodyless two-wheel powered frames.

    Like 1
  6. Fernando Abruna

    I’ve had a Freeway for 7 years now. It has no reverse and the mileage is closer to 52 mpg rather than the 100 claimed in the literature of the times.
    Fernando Abruna
    Puerto Rico

    Like 1

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