In this installment of “My First Sled”, we take a look at Richard’s first machine, the 1979 Arctic Cat Jag 3000. First introduced in 1976, the Jag was inexpensive, peppy, lightweight, fuel-efficient and rock-solid reliable. In other words, the Arctic Cat Jag was the ideal first sled. Situated between the entry-level Lynx and the Trail Cat in Cat’s 1979 line-up, the Jag resonated with families as it struck a great balance between practicality and performance. Unlike many family snowmobiles from that era, the Jag had racy good looks handed down from its big brother, the El Tigre. As your dad or big brother weren’t embarrassed to be seen on a Jag, you may have seen less of this sled than you would have liked.
For the 1979 season, Arctic Cat upgraded the ride performance of the Jag by changing the rear suspension slide rails from steel to extruded aluminum. In the process, they also boosted the rear travel from 2.75” to 4”. Cat also changed the Mikuni carburetor from a slide-type to a butterfly-type that was less prone to freeze-up. That year was also the first time that Cat offered three engine options in the Jag. Available options included an air-cooled 275cc model (known as the “Jag 2000”), as well as an air-cooled 340 and a fan-cooled 340. The fan-cooled 340cc model also offered the convenience of oil-injection. These Suzuki-made engines were renowned for their reliability and capacity to withstand tremendous abuse. For this reason, Arctic Cat has been using Suzuki engines for almost 40 years and still do to this day.
The 3000 model was truly a snappy all-round performer. The 340cc engine laid down 30 horsepower and could reach a top-speed of about 60 miles-per-hour. The upgraded suspension, light weight, track cleats and forgiving chassis geometry would allow a skilled rider to humble much more powerful sleds on tight trails.
To keep the price tag low, the 1979 Jag came as a very basic package. Arctic Cat did offer an assortment of options including a speedometer, tachometer, temperature gauge, electric start, tow hitch and a safari rack.
This generation of the Jag came to an end when Arctic Cat declared bankruptcy in 1982. Arctic Cat made a comeback in the mid-80s and the Jag name was also revived as a 440cc model. But the Jag of the late-1970’s will always be remembered as a classic economy sled that delivered fun well-beyond its price tag.
Specifications for 1979 Arctic Cat Jag 3000
- Engine: Suzuki two-stroke, two-cylinder
- Cooling: Free-air-cooled or fan-cooled
- Displacement: 340cc
- Bore: 60 mm
- Stroke: 60 mm
- Spark Plug: NGK BR8ES
- Compression Ratio: 6.8:1
- Carburetor: Mikuni VM-30 (single)
- Drive Clutch: Arctic Hexagon
- Horsepower: 30hp
- Top Speed: Approximately 60mph
- Ignition: CDI
- Length Without Skis: 86”
- Total Length: 101.5”
- Height at Handlebar: 32”
- Ski Stance: 28”
- Track: “15” X 32” with 2/3” lugs with cleats
- Suspension Travel: 4”
- Brakes: Cam-action disc
- Rear Suspension: Torsion-spring slide rail
- Fuel Capacity: 6.5 US gallons/5.4 imperial gallons/24.6 litres
- Dry Weight: 363 lbs.
- 1979 Retail Price: $1679 (fan-cooled 340) $1575 (free-air-cooled 340)
Here are some vintage Arctic Cat TV commercials from the late 70s.