Snowmobiles have been around for over five decades. Every few years, newer models replace older ones. There are some models that become immensely popular and reach an iconic status. These vintage snowmobiles are highly sought after and find a place in the collection of snowmobile enthusiasts. Vintage shows feature a lot these snowmobiles. Here are a few popular models that were best sellers of their times.
Yamaha Enticer 300
Introduced in the 1970s, the Yamaha Enticer 300 became immensely popular among snowmobilers. The Enticer 300 was an enhanced version based on the same lightweight chassis as the Enticer 250. It came with a 294cc two-cylinder engine, a slide rail type suspension and weighed under 350lbs. The excellent power to weight ratio and the 31.5-inch ski stance made the Enticer 300 extremely agile and responsive. Its cornering ability set it a class apart from its competitors. Due to its ability to compete in both 300 and 340 classes, the Enticer 300 became equally popular among racers and riders and is still a highly sought-after vintage snowmobile.
Arctic Cat El Tigre
El Tigre is a vintage snowmobile that stands out from the crowd. There were two variants of El Tigre available – a 4000 with a 440cc engine and a 5000 with a 500cc engine. The pronounced fiberglass hood, a rear hump seat with storage and a tinted windshield made it eye-catching. It had 6inch skis and a 15-2/3inch track with 1/2-inch grippers that provided excellent traction and great cornering. The single leaf springs and shocks in front and the slide rail suspension in the rear made the ride comfortable. Despite being over four decades old, the Arctic Cat El Tigre is still popular in vintage snowmobile circles.
Kawasaki Interceptor 550
Even though Kawasaki stopped manufacturing snowmobiles, they went out with a bang. Their final commercial model was their best machine ever – the Interceptor 550. Kawasaki released it in 1982 and just made about 600 of them. The Interceptor 550 was powered by a 530cc engine that had two of everything – cylinders, fuel pumps, plugs, carburetor, and pipes. The engine produced a maximum power of 86hp and the skis had a wider bearing at 34 inches. The Interceptor 550 became popular for its superior acceleration and excellent handling. It is considered a prized possession in the vintage snowmobile market.
Polaris TX 500 Limited
The Polaris TX 500 Limited is a vintage snowmobile that was a game changer of its times. It came with a three-cylinder engine with a displacement capacity of 502cc and 50 horsepower output. With a 34-inch ski stance and weight under 400 lbs., the Polaris TX 500 was built for racing. Its engine stuck out from the hood to provide additional cooling. The slide suspension made the ride comfortable and the hydraulic disc brakes provided adequate stopping power. The Polaris TX 500 Limited had many firsts. Its spark plugs went off thrice every revolution. It had a slide fixed jet carburetor that made starting the snowmobile a breeze while ensuring smooth performance. Its center seals lasted way longer than the competition. It had twin headlights, a windshield, and a steel cleated rubber track for added durability. The skis, shocks and the 5-gallon gas tank were all of the chrome.
Back to the ‘60s and ‘70s!
The following vintage snowmobiles are some of the earlier 1960s and 1970s models that set the pace for this ever-changing snowmobile industry. These snowmobiles are a good example of how the timeline for snowmobile evolution changed by bringing improvements and even repeating old ideas. Vintage sleds can be found in auctions and social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace where vintage enthusiasts gather online to expand their collections. Some people might just want to showcase the vintage potential of their prized possessions. Others might enjoy restoring their antique collectibles to bring them back to life – and really live by the phrase: old is gold.
Arctic Cat Panther, 1967
Image source: Snow Goer
1967 Arctic Cat Panther was the sled of the year back then. Its breakthrough design was comprised of a fiberglass hood, slide rails, and a front-engine. A riveted aluminum chassis and panther-print seat gave this snowmobile all the spotlight it deserved. The antique sled had been in various auctions for retro snowmobilers and collectors. It is rated to be quite stable, easily maneuverable, and equipped to pick up high speeds on the snow.
1973 Ski-Doo Elite
Image source: Dennis Kirk
1973 Ski-Doo Elite featured a unique two-seater combination – truly one of its kind. The side-by-side seat design still surprises most snowmobilers today. This Elite model was released for elite, urban audiences, as the sled would always be upgraded with high-end amenities. The vintage snowmobile included a rear-mounted 635cc twin-engine and was built for smooth snowmobiling experiences. The side-by-side design went on a celebrated snowmobile renaissance over the years, falling in and out of trend and adopting new styles whenever it came back. For this reason, Ski-Doo Elite makes a great sled for restoration projects.
1978 John Deere Spitfire
Image source: Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
1978 John Deere Spitfire was launched to replace and reimagine the previous John Deere lineup. This vintage snowmobile used a 338 cc 2-cylinder Kohler free air-cooled engine. It was one of the most economical options at the time and helped the company live up to its famous slogan, “Nothing runs like a Deere”. The Spitfire stayed in action until 1982 and marked its own history.
It was famous for its extremely lightweight construction and still optimal performance, easily preferred by all snowmobilers. Sadly, the initial popularity faded away over time; there were 24,173 Spitfires in total before their production was halted and replaced by a new version.
1965 Polaris Mustang
Image source: Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
1965 Polaris Mustang had a 244cc, 9.2hp JLO motor. This front-engine model turned out to be a huge success and easily outshined its predecessors – the 1964 Polaris Comets, which were discontinued. The 1965 Mustang snowmobiles were quite agile and reliable and featured a single sealed beam headlight. The original parts were eventually updated to ensure better performances, usability, and on-the-snow functionality. Mustang sleds initially had a hand-actuated brake that was later replaced by a handlebar brake lever. The old cylinder gas tank system was also upgraded in the newer models. You might come across this vintage snowmobile in various auctions for Polaris snowmobiles.