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1981 HMV Freeway


Elyria, Ohio

Year -

Make HMV Freeway

Model -

Category Trikes

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Posted Over 1 Month

There is a story floating around the web of someone who bought a Freeway new, drove it and had it crushed so it would never have a chance to be driven again. Although the story is probably as reliable as the internet gets, the Freeway’s reputation is not totally undeserved. Even after all the work done on this one, it would still rank in my book as the worst production vehicle in modern times anywhere in the world. The Freeway was the brainchild of a Minnesotan who wanted to build a car capable of 100 mpg and bring it to market. He came out with the HMV Freeway (HMV stands for High Mileage Vehicle). They could be ordered with different powerplants including Electric and Diesel but most were delivered with a 12 or 16 HP Tecumseh engine. This engine is the same big cast-iron behemoth found on large 1970’s era rototillers. As could be expected from a state that has to endure winter 8 months of the year, power is delivered to the rear wheel through a Snowmobile transmission which propels the contraption to somewhere around 60mph. If that does not seem to be all that fast, driving one at that speed will change your mind quickly. The Freeway supposedly is able to do 100 mpg if you run it around 40mph all the time. Since I like people waving at me with more than one finger while passing me, I try hard to go faster and, as a result, 100 mpg has been elusive Road handling in the stock version is atrocious, a high center of gravity and low weight distribution on the front wheels made for hair raising cornering ability and the transmission design makes driving on ice an act of lunacy as the wheel would start spinning faster on ice. Brakes and the likes are from long obsolete golf cart suppliers and the supplemental cooling system for the engine consists of a pump pushing hot oil to a heater core in the cabin, guaranteeing heat in the summer. They were available in many (Yellow and Orange) base gelcoat colors but the later models came with custom paint jobs as options. This one was repainted a beautiful blue with Grey bottom half much later in life and still looks pretty darn good. About 700 Freeways were built in the early eighties and at least one went to a celebrity of sorts as I’ve been told Superhost from channel 43 in Cleveland had one… Since I saw him on TV during my formative years, that’s celebrity enough in my book. I’ve had this vehicle now for about 4 years. I bought it from a school in Illinois. It had resided in that town all its life and had seen three owners, although the third one was the same as the first. The body had been repainted and looked spectacular but the unit had almost 14,000 miles on it. After bringing it to its new home, I immediately took it for a quick spin. It was a mistake. At around 25mph, the car started going anywhere but down the street and brake action was more like a weak suggestion to slow down so it was babied back to the shop where major repairs were started. There is still a healthy following by people who are very much committed to the preservation of this quirky vehicle and a guy named Jim has made it his passion to seek out and sell some of the harder to find parts. He provided me with a new rear brake assembly, new front brake cylinders, a new driven clutch and belt, a new master cylinder and some other bits. The rear suspension came from a motorcycle shop. I believe they are from a Harley Davidson and they sure were priced as such. The front suspension on the stock Freeway has no Castor which is part of the reason for the awful ride on the original units. There is a guy in Hawaii who made a kit he aptly named F.A.R.T. (Freeway automotive racing team). It improves travel, wheel tracking, suspension and some other issues. These kits are exceedingly hard to get anymore. It took me a year before mine finally came but it did help out the ride a whole lot. The front shocks were replaced with new units from a Chrysler 300 and machined to fit. New tires finished it off for the time being but after driving it for a while, the engine, now with close to 15,000 miles on it, came out for a good going over. I brought it to a local mower shop that still had people familiar with the old 12HP Tecumseh and they bored the cylinder, replaced the piston, valves and valve guides as well as all seals. After the engine was rebuilt, I took the rear drum, which still had some pulsing in it, and but it on a brake lathe for the second time. It did not help and the rear brake still pulses. This Freeway also comes with a 7-gallon tank, enough to drive all the way back to Minnesota from Ohio if you so desire. It also comes with two side windows and the rubber needed to put them back in in case you like that roasting feeling in the summer. Although the interior could use some attention, it is mechanically in excellent shape. The Freeway is not the only quirky vehicle that needs my attention and I’m not playing with it a lot anymore. Today was the first time this year I took it out. Living your life in a heated garage comes at a cost and there is only so much space and attention to go around. It’s time for someone else to love it for its quirkiness, tolerate it for its shortcomings and, more than anything, take it out and play with it, especially since there are not a lot of them on the road anymore.It has a clear title and the serial number is 3660G81