Respecting the Classics
Around the holiday season, it’s easy to get worked up about the new snowmobiles on the block. They’ve got new electric starts, BlueTooth sound systems, and digital displays. They’ve got all the new gear to really turn heads. But nothing really turns heads like a classic, right? There’s just something about those old race sleds that takes you back. The shape, the sound of the motor – it all makes you think of the glory riding days of yesteryear. Let’s take a minute to walk down memory lane and look at 7 awesome vintage snowmobiles!
The 7 Best Vintage Snowmobiles Through the Ages
People like to say, “They don’t make them like they used to.” While we’re pretty big fans of all the innovations in making more efficient engines and safer sleds, seeing these old models definitely brings you back. How many of these classic sleds do you remember from the glory days?
1966 Arctic Cat Panther
The early Arctic Cat Panthers were legendary in many respects. The first reason for this being on our list is that this is one of the sleds that secured Arctic Cat’s place as a major snowmobile name. In the mid and late 1960s, Ski-Doo was the major name in the snowmobiling world. However, with the Panther, Arctic Cat began to break out from the pack.
Not only did we get a beautiful body from the Panther, but it also had a beautiful design. Fiberglass replaced heavy iron on the hood, shedding a lot of weight off the sled. It also featured slide rails instead of rollers inside the track. This snowmobile also had the engine placed in the front rather than the middle or back of the sled, giving riders weight where they needed it to help with traction. It was an innovative machine, and if you can believe it, beautiful, too.
1975 Ski-Doo TNT
Speaking of the big boys on the block, how about the 1975 Ski-Doo TNT? That’s not “TNT” as in “this sled is the bomb” (although it is), but actually Track n’ Trail. This sled was truly ready for it all. The first model of TNT was released in 1969, and this model persisted for over a decade.
Most notable about this snowmobile was the sleek, trimmed-down design. You can see a definite progression in design between the comparatively clunky Panther and the slimmer TNT, especially in regard to aerodynamics. This Ski-Doo really put its focus on great handling and performance.
1976 Yamaha SRX 340
At its inception, the SRX was meant for a single purpose: speed. This model was designed to go fast, make tight turns, and keep cruising until the 2.6-gallon gas tank ran dry. The sled had aluminum skis, a tachometer because the speedometer was optional, and no windshield. We’re talking bare-bones speed.
Something really special about the ‘76 edition, the SRX 340, was that this was the first Yamaha to use a liquid-cooled engine. While earlier models were released as great options for normal trail riding, the SRX 340 was only meant as a race sled. It did the job well.
1980 Polaris TXL Indy
In the earlier days of snowmobile riding, sleds were made for just that purpose – riding. Racing wasn’t as hot a spot as it is these days. We didn’t see many designs specifically for speed, but if you’re paying attention, you can see that those are some of our favorites. The Polaris TXL Indy was another one of these race sleds built to absolutely smoke the competition.
The Polaris TXL Indy featured great handling, sleek design, and really great suspension that made it easy to ride. You might often see in those days that factory racers could really only win on the sled they knew best. The TXL Indy was so well-rounded that just about anyone could hop on and start competing – and do it well.
1980 Yamaha Enticer
Okay, so we’ve talked about some race sleds, but those aren’t the only ones that matter to us. All snowmobiles are beautiful! So how about we take a look at one of the most well-rounded factory vintage snowmobiles from the glory days, the Yamaha Enticer!
It didn’t have the sharp angles of the race sleds or the intimidating front end. That’s because the Enticer didn’t need them. What the Enticer offered was a great entry-level sled that any Tom, Dick, or Harry could hop on and have a great time. It was designed for easy use, with an oil-injection engine and disc brakes, but it retailed for only $1,000 dollars when it first came out in 1977.
If you were a newer rider looking for something that you could enjoy without getting in too far over your head with mechanics, this was a perfect choice.
1982 Arctic Cat Jag
Around the early ‘80s, we start to see snowmobiles taking a much more familiar shape. One of our favorite sleds from this time is the Arctic Cat Jag. Its design was much closer to our contemporary ideas of how a sled looks, unlike its more boxy predecessors. The Jag had a windshield, speedometer, great rear suspension, and looked pretty, to boot.
While this wasn’t one of the top-tier sleds giving onlookers whiplash, it was a beautiful and solid machine. It was another great design from Arctic Cat that helped to keep them at the forefront of snowmobile design at the time.
1984 Yamaha Phazer
While they can’t all be winning race sleds, the Yamaha Phazer was definitely one of the winners. The Phazer’s cousin, the Enticer, was a great entry-level snowmobile. The Phazer, on the other hand, was what you would upgrade to once you got a taste for Yamaha engineering.
So what made the Phazer so slick? It’s all in that aerodynamic design. A pivoting headlight aided in safely making it through the course. The excellent IFS and long-travel rear suspension gave it incredible handling. The combination of the sled’s lightweight and the tapered body and running boards made it hard to keep up with on the snow.
Our Picks for the Best Vintage Snowmobiles
We’ve come a long way in the snowmobiling world. Personally, we’re pretty glad that a speedometer comes stock on your sled now. How else can you know if you’re feeding the need for speed?
But, ignoring our technological advancements, there’s just something about those old sleds. The clunky bodies, the work, and dedication we put into vintage snowmobiles… the falls and scrapes we took along the way. It was all part of the learning curve. Looking back on it now, we wouldn’t have it any other way.