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Home Pick of the Day Pick of the Day: Another oil-embargo 3-wheeler

Pick of the Day: Another oil-embargo 3-wheeler

Freeway has room only for one, but promised 100 mpg during oil crisis

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The Dale, the 3-wheeler featured in a recent HBO documentary series, wasn’t the only vehicle of its ilk developed during the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s. Another such fuel-sipping vehicle, although apparently without such a controversial back story, was the Pick of the Day, a 1980 Freeway Trike.

“This odd duck is a 1980 Freeway, a single-cylinder gas miser engineered by Minnesota-based High Mileage Vehicles Corp.,” notes the Morgantown, Pennsylvania, dealership advertising the 3-wheeler on ClassicCars.com.

“Designed to get 80-100 mpg, the company certainly paired things down to the bare minimum in an effort to achieve that figure — the awkward-looking trike is a single-seater, with the bare minimum of gauges and no visible driver amenities.”

What the dealer refers to as the High Mileage Vehicles Corp. is listed in the Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile as H-M Free-Way, which operated from 1977-1985 in Burnsville, Minnesota. 

That source notes that H-M produced not only the Free-Way II powered by a 340cc (12 horsepower) or 450cc (16 horsepower) single-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine (both sourced from Tecumseh) , also offered a diesel powerplant (reportedly none of those were ordered by customers), and also the Deluxe Free-Way Electric propelled by a quartet of 12-volt batteries.

Apparently around 700 of these vehicles were produced.

High Mileage promised 100 mpg with the 12-horsepower engine if driven at a steady 40 mph. A snowmobile-style continuously variable transmission linked the engine via a chain to the rear wheel. There was no reverse gear, the dealership notes, “so avoid dead end streets.”

The Freeway exterior comprises to fiberglass panels, with a single front headlamp and a pair of fog lights. Although the fiberglass panels extend beneath the vehicle to enhance aerodynamics, the chassis is made from two steel frames, one lower and another a bumper height. The 3-wheeler rides on independent suspension.

The dealership notes that “utilitarian” is the word for the car’s interior, “with a futuristic for 1980 single seat, placed within a seat of carpeting covering the interior tub and right-side panel. 

“The door panel is left to bare black metal, with a pouch attached for storage.

“The dash contains a few buttons, one for headlights, one for oil pump, and one for wipers.”

There also is an AM radio.

The dealer notes that the car, reportedlyy driven around 6,100 miles, has been repainted and shows “some drips and areas of overspray.”

The Plexiglass rear windows have been replaced, “and when doing so, some uneven cutting lines were produced.”

The dealer notes as well as “touting gas mileage is one thing, achieving it is another. 

“This car has some issues with the front suspension, and the rear drive wheel. Paint is fair, and mechanicals are definitely in need of a once over for a thorough checkup.”

On the other hand, it is “an interesting and rare piece of automotive history that may be in the category of questionable significance, but for the person who is interested in oddities, this is definitely an important car.”

The vehicle is being offered for $7,900. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. My neighbor in Shelby Township had owned a yellow one of these vehicles. It looked more like a toy than a car! But I was 9 years old when he bought it…

  2. Anybody hear of the rock band “Death Cab for Cutie” well that’s what this mode of transportation brings to mind. Looks like a micro hot wheels car. Hate to be in that thing when hit by a real car. Is risking your life really worth getting 100 mpg?

  3. President ,Carter & Biden two peas in a FREEWAY….
    NO GAS, HI TAXES , Prices up on Wood ,& All Oil Products ….Plus …
    Its only four months … of Joe Biden..
    Best Regards
    Gregg

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