Vintage Snowmobile 101: All You Want to Know

If you love snowmobiles as much as I do, there’s a pretty good chance you are interested in vintage sleds. There is something special about those old machines, and every modern model owes tribute to the predecessors of years gone by. 

I’m Chaz, a snowmobile enthusiast who has been extremely passionate about all snow-related activities since I was a kid. I snowmobile as often as possible, and I love learning everything I can about these amazing machines. 

I wanted to write a post based on vintage snowmobiles to provide people who share similar interests with a resource they can go to to learn more. Whether you are a lifelong rider or just learning about snowmobiles, there will be something for you here. 

Let’s dive in. 

What is Classified as a Vintage Snowmobile?

There is no exact rule that makes a snowmobile classified as vintage. But most riders agree that any machine 25 years or older can be called a vintage snowmobile. Others will even say that a 15-20 year old machine is vintage. 

In my opinion, the 25 year or older mark is the best way to classify a sled as vintage. All of the old-timers and true sled heads that I know will tell you the same thing.   

What Year of Snowmobile is Considered Vintage?

Taking the 25 years or older classification mentioned above to heart, any snowmobile from 1997 or earlier would be considered vintage today. 

If you are looser with those rules and want to call it 10-15 years, then any sled from 2007-2012 or before would be vintage. 

Just looking at those numbers written down is more proof (to me anyway) that 25 years is a better indicator than 10 or 15. A pre-2000 snowmobile sounds vintage. A 2012 machine does not.  

Famous Vintage Snowmobile Brands

There are a number of famous vintage snowmobile brands out there. Some of these are still going strong today and have been putting out legendary machines for decades. Other brands no longer exist, making those machines even more desirable. 

Some famous vintage snowmobile brands that still exist include Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat, Yamaha, and Polaris.

Some famous vintage snowmobile brands that no longer exist (or make snowmobiles) include:

  • John Deere
  • Kawasaki
  • Scorpian
  • Sno-Jet
  • Mercury
  • Chaparral
  • Fox-Trac
  • Raidar/Manta
  • Ariens
  • Rupp

How to Determine Vintage Snowmobile Values

One of the best ways to determine vintage snowmobile values is to look through forums and other snowmobile sites for old sleds that are in a similar condition to the one you might have. Vintage Sleds is a good resource, and so is Hardcore Sledder.  

The better shape a vintage snowmobile is in, the more it will be worth. So if you have an old one sitting in the garage that still runs well, that will be worth a lot more than one that has been neglected and left outside. 

If you know any old-timers or small engine repair people in your area, they can also be a good resource to help you determine the value of an older snowmobile. You can also look at resale sites like Craigslist to see what other people are selling similar sleds for. 

Vintage Snowmobile For Sale: Where to Find Good Deals

If you are looking for a vintage snowmobile and want to get a good deal, you just need to search around as much as possible. You never know where you might find an awesome vintage sled in excellent condition. 

Looking through the forums I just mentioned above is a good place to start, as is searching resale sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace

If you are willing to put in some time and effort, I think one of the best ways to find a good deal on a vintage snowmobile is to explore garage and estate sales in regions where snowmobiling is popular. 

You never know when someone might have a treasure in their shop that they don’t really know anything about. Maybe it’s been sitting around for decades or has passed down to grandkids who don’t ride. Keep your eyes out, and you can find some fantastic machines. 

Where to Buy Vintage Snowmobile Parts

Getting parts for a vintage snowmobile can be somewhat challenging, especially if the brand you have no longer exists. But with a bit of luck and effort, you can usually track down what you need. 

If the brand still exists, it’s always good to reach out to the dealer to see if they have the parts you need or can point you in the right direction. Even if they don’t have it, they might be able to direct you to a partner or shop that does. 

If the brand doesn’t exist, you’ll want to look for snowmobile salvage yards, repair shops, and other smaller businesses that might have parts. A snowmobile salvage yard can be a gold mine for vintage parts if it hasn’t been picked over. 

If you live in an area where snowmobiling is popular, you will have more luck than if you live in a warmer region. You might need to visit or at least call up shops in snowmobiling regions if you don’t live in one. 

Vintage Snowmobile Tracks

Vintage snowmobile tracks can be even more challenging to find than vintage parts. This is because tracks can be highly specialized and specific to each machine. You’ll want to look at the same shops and sources I mentioned for vintage parts. 

Salvage yards can be the best bet for vintage snowmobile tracks. If you find a broke down sled that is the same or similar model to the one you need a track for, you can pull it off and put it on yours. 

You can also put a different track on a vintage snowmobile than the original. This might be frowned upon if you want to get an authentic rebuild, but it’s often the only option available if you want to get an older sled back on the snow. 

You really don’t need a vintage track, and a newer one can be a great upgrade to help the machine operate better in the snow. 

Vintage Snowmobile Racing

Vintage snowmobile racing is pretty popular, and it’s a great way to have a lot of fun and meet other riders who share a similar passion. If you want to see these races in action or even race your old sled, I highly recommend checking out these races. 

Major Events

Pro Vintage Racing hosts a series of events throughout the winter months in the midwest US. These are some of the most major events in the region, and they have been going on since 1995.

The World Championship Snowmobile Derby Vintage Races is another major event worth checking out. These occur in Eagle River, Wisconsin, which has a long-standing reputation for great riding. 

The Vintage Snowmobile Racing at Priest Lake in Idaho is a popular event in the western US. This takes place every January, in the height of the winter riding season.

Rules

Most vintage races that I’ve seen are Oval Races. This involves riders racing head to head on an oval-shaped racecourse. The winner is the one who completes a certain number of laps in the fastest time. 

There are also rules relating to what classifies as a vintage sled. Some races will have designated years that the machine or chassis needs to be in order to take part. You might need to have your sled checked out to make sure it meets the classification to enter the race. 

Each race and event can have slightly different rules. So if you want to take part in the race, be sure to find out as much as you can beforehand to make sure your sled is classified as vintage according to that event’s rules.

Other rules are established for the safety of the riders, and you can expect to be required to wear a helmet and other safety equipment. Snowmobiles might also be required to have carbides or traction devices to give them more control.   

Vintage Snowmobile Magazines

There are a few good vintage snowmobile magazines to explore if you want to learn more about this side of the sport. I’ve highlighted some of the most well-known mags that are still out there here. 

Vintage Snowmobile Magazine – this publication has a lot of good information relating to vintage machines, vintage enthusiasts, and other issues of interest. It has many resources for riders, and the website will get you pointed in the right direction.

On Snow Magazine Vintage Archives – On Snow Magazine is one of the top snowmobile-related publications out there, and it has a vintage archives section that is another solid resource. 

If you are looking for actual hard copies of vintage snowmobile magazines, check out this link. You can purchase a number of classic mags to add to your collection.  

Vintage Snowmobile Forums

There are a number of good snowmobile forums out there. While several are exclusively dedicated to vintage machines, nearly every snowmobile-related forum has a vintage section worth checking out. Here are some of the best forums to look at. 

FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions relating to vintage snowmobiles. 

What was the first brand of snowmobile? 

Polaris is generally recognized as the first brand of snowmobile. Earlier inventions resembled a snow machine, but Polaris was the first brand to put machines that resemble more modern versions on the market. 

What is the oldest snowmobile?

The earliest versions of the snowmobile date back to the early 1900s, with a modified Indian motorcycle resembling modern machines. The first snowmobile with a track was invented in the 1950s, and the Polaris Sno Traveler came out in 1957.  

What is the rarest snowmobile in the world?

This is a debatable question because several really rare models are out there. But the 1972 Chaparral Freebird SSX Grass-Pro 650 is a super rare model with only a few left in existence. And there were only 35 of these made ever.

About Chaz Wyland
I’m a snowmobile fanatic. I live for riding and am out on the trails or backcountry as often as possible during the winter months. I was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains and have snowmobiled in dozens of North American locations. When the snow is falling, you’ll find me on a sled.

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  • Mark

    Hi Chaz, I see you have reference on your blog. You mentioned my article on vintage snowmobiles that those brands are gone. The forgotten but beloved dead brands. You might like to see David’s vintage sleds. He has the most cataloged list of snowmobiles brands and more. For me, I am doing roller rinks now. Mine is Dead-Rinks. You have a very nice article. I think Polaris started in 1954, not 57. I snowmobiled since age 5 in 1969. Then I studied history right after that at that young age. I still draw and design sleds. But never had one made. Except for one.. a certain brand had my design and manufacture.. and that is all I am saying..

    Reply
  • John horvath

    I just come across a colt 340 would like to know what it is worth and more about it thanks john

    Reply
    • Chaz Wyland

      Hi John,

      That’s a pretty old Polaris you found! I don’t know of too many still around, so it’s definitely a unique find. It’s probably not worth a ton of money, maybe around $500 if it’s in good shape and runs. But that’s a 50-year-old machine, so it could be less.

      I don’t have much first-hand experience with this model, but you can always search around the popular forums to get some more questions answered or see if there’s a market for it.

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Reply