Today’s snowmobiles are truly technological marvels. Design advancements have made for snowmobiles that are faster, more comfortable and better handling than machines made just a few years ago. But in our view, the current state of the sport pales in comparison to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. In those days, it seemed like virtually everyone had a snow machine in their back yard. People that you would have never expected to be involved in a motorsport owned a snowmobile. Thousands of families discovered the freedom and exhilaration that snowmobiling brought and embraced this exciting new sport. It was truly the golden age of snowmobiling.
Consider that global snowmobile sales for 2012 were just shy of 130,000 units. In 1971, Bombardier (they built Ski-Doo and Moto-Ski brands) had sales of over 250,000 units by themselves! To give you an example of how the sport exploded in that era, there were roughly twelve snowmobile manufacturers in 1964 and by the early 70s, there were over two hundred snowmobile makers!
But those good times were very short-lived. Poor snow conditions in 1972 and 1973, followed by the OPEC oil crisis decimated the industry. Tens of thousands of snowmobiles went unsold and consequently the vast majority of these brands vanished as quickly as they came onto the scene.
A few brands held on into the early 80’s, but for the last 30 years we have been left with 4 brands being Ski-Doo, Polaris, Arctic Cat and Yamaha. Today’s machines may be remarkable, but we don’t believe that the sport is anywhere near as interesting or as fun as it was 40 years ago.
So let’s take a ride down memory lane and explore some of the lost snowmobile brands of the 1970’s.