Three-Wheeled Barn Find: 1981 HMV Freeway

I just got back from a six-day 4,800-mile road trip and anyone who has been on a freeway over the last few months will tell you that this 1981 HMV Freeway is probably the last vehicle you’d ever want to drive on a freeway given today’s crazy world and even crazier drivers. The seller has this tri-tire barn find listed here on eBay in Everett, Massachusetts and they have a buy-it-now price of $5,500 listed.

HMV = High-Mileage Vehicles and they made the Freeway, sometimes seen as Free-Way or FreeWay (I know, too many variations), between 1979 and 1982 in Burnsville, Minnesota. I was just getting out of high school in that era and the last thing I wanted was something like this three-wheel microcar, I wanted a muscle car as much as everyone else did. Now, 41 years later, I’m the exact opposite, the last thing I want is a muscle car, I want oddball vehicles like this Freeway. That’s the beauty of life, things ebb and flow over the decades and it may come full circle again but for me, it’s easier to store/hoard a few microcars than it is to store just one muscle car.

H-M-Vehicles, Inc. only made around 700 of these tiny tri-wheelers and they’re rare to see today. They came in three bright colors: orange, yellow, and red. Given the condition of this example, I’m not sure if they’ll get their asking price but who knows. As with driving today, all bets are off – there are no rules anymore as far as driving laws or vehicle prices go, as you have all seen over the last couple of years. The fact that it’s still for sale after a couple of weeks tells me that it’s overpriced.

There aren’t any overall interior photos but they do show a partial photo of the dash (I’m not sure why it’s a partial photo?) and a photo of the driver’s seat. Actually, that’s the only seat as the Freeway only had one seat for the driver, there wasn’t room for a passenger or much else inside. There was a tube steel frame as well as a perimeter frame and that met the standards of the time, but it may not offer the protection needed against today’s texting daydreamers piloting 4,000-pound hulking SUVs down the road. Still, compared to a motorcycle it offers a bit of extra protection. Speaking of motorcycles, having three wheels, the HMV Freeway was usually titled as a motorcycle but it depended on your state. I mean, the state that you lived in, not your state of mind.

I’m thankful that the seller provided even a partial engine photo as a lot of sellers don’t even do that anymore and this mid-engine location isn’t exactly easy to get to. HM Vehicles offered several engines for the Freeway: two gas engines either a 12-hp or 16-hp Tecumseh, or a diesel engine, all with a CVT-type transmission. There was also a 4-hp electric version. The seller doesn’t say which engine this is but it “starts up nicely” which is good, but it needs a gas tank or a good fuel system cleaning. Are there any fans of these unusual microcars out there? Any former or present owners of an HMV Freeway?


  1. RoughDiamond

    Good thing they painted them in bright colors for visibility sake. I drive an ’05 Acura TL sedan daily and the size of some of the SUVs today is downright frightening.

    Like 6
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I hear ya Diamond on the visability issue. Years ago I bought a yellow Mad River Explorer canoe. People wondered, why not green? If someone is searching for you colors matter, same as on the road. Take care, Mike.

      Like 4
  2. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    It is never a good sign when there are 2 “Triple A” stickers on the front bumper, Lol

    Like 8
  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    HMV could also mean Home Made Vehicle. Which this is not, but most handy people could probably build a better one in their garage.
    God bless America

    Like 5
  4. Evan

    If it was a couple grand and I could get my hands on a cheap salvage Suzuki 650 Burgman…

    Like 4
  5. Rick Member

    I once had a yellow Freeway – translation SCAREY. I bought it for $200 I think from a guy who had tipped it over, I sold it for $500 to a friend who built interesting cars. Among other things, he had two Euclid Beach Rocket Cars. I do not believe that he ever did anything creative with the Freeway – terrible car.

    Like 1
    • SHERRY

      Do you know of ita for sale now, or where I can get a hold of someone who is trying to get rid of one

      Like 0
      • Janice Markey

        I Sherry, I have a 1981 HM Freeway, Orange, for sale in New Haven, CT.

        Like 0
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        @Janice Markey – rather than posting your car for sale in the comments, please submit it to get featured on the site. Thanks!

        Like 1
  6. Gerard Frederick

    On the ¨hideous¨ scale of zero to ten, this is a 10-plus. What a monstrosity. Why on earth would anyone conceive such a mistake?

    Like 2
    • JoeNYWF64

      How do you grade this?
      I know car companies destroyed many running concepts for fear of liabilitiy if they were to fall into private hands & there was a serious accident with 1 of them.
      But why would GM destroy the Runabout PUSHMOBILE in the 1980s? Ran out of space to store the tiny thing? No maint even needed – if it’s kept covered.

      Like 0
  7. Howie Mueler

    And not only is it small but ugly too. Must get hot in there.

    Like 8
  8. Fernando Abruna

    It looks better from behind (almost sporty) than from the front. It has no reverse gear, side and rear windows are plexiglass. Visibility from the rear view mirrors is very limited. A 2nd passenger can be uncomfortably squeezed in right behind the driver with legs around the front seat. Hagerty customers voted it as one of the worst cars ever designed…but I absolutely love mine.
    Guess I’m a crazy microcar lover.

    Like 6
  9. Jcs

    Seems overpriced at even half of the asking price. Wouldn’t be caught dead in this thing….

    Like 1
  10. Kenn

    Rick, don’t tell Mike about your experience. Makes you a hated flipper.

    Like 0
    • Rick Member

      Not a flipper. I was intending to keep the Freeway for some unknown reason, but my Rocket Car friend begged me to sell it to me. He set the price, not me.

      Like 0
  11. Jrp

    How about “High Mortality Vehicle”? I knew an old fellow who just had to have it when he saw one at an estate sale. Scariest thing anyone could drive on any road.

    Like 2
  12. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    And to think this concept is still in play. Groogle “Elio Motors” or “Elio P5” for the current version.

    Like 1
  13. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one ended with no bidders.

    Like 1
  14. Janice Markey

    I am a present owner of a 1981 Red HMFreeway that I am looking to sell. Is there anyone on this forum interested?
    Janice Markey

    Like 0
  15. Daniel Davis

    It amazes me the ongoing negative comments people leave about odd cars they don’t understand nor appreciate!!! I think those who do so should get a life.

    Like 1
  16. Gerard Frederick

    You are misusing linguistic concepts. There is nothing to ¨understand¨ about a car. As fsr as appreciation goes, why would anyone appreciate a vehicle whose basic premise is ill conceived, ugly by any standard, the built quality is atrocious, and its performance is on the level of an Isetta, which means, it´s unusuable even in todays city traffic. With an Isetta you can enter and exit easily, it´s cute as a Maybug, well engineered and built to exacting standards, now THERE´S something to appreciate, but with this euphemistically called death trap on wheels, not so much.

    Like 0
  17. Kenn

    Jeez Louise Gerard Frederick. How do you not drown when you’re out in the rain with your nose so high in the air? Frankly, your “linguistic concepts” are off base since “understand” has many interpretations and can accurately be used when discussing a car.

    Like 0

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