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Prototypes, limited editions, limited productions and early builds from the 1970's

1970 Arctic Cat dune buggy prototype (2 produced)

Not much is known about this machine. There were 2 Prototypes built in the summer of 1969, and this was the second. The first did not have independent rear suspension . They were one of Edgars Hetteen's imfamous "pet projects" built by Tubby Lund and Bob Mastery in the, then empty, new plant while it was being finished. They were called "Dune Buggies" when being built and tested in Arizona. There are no ID tags on it. While testing In Arizona they had problems driving the one without IRS. It gave too rough of a ride and both buggies were plagued by flat tires from cactus needles. The original color was Panther purple as that is the color when you scratch away the yellow paint. It's powered by a 340 Hirth and it goes very fast. It is a unique peice of Arctic history hopefully one day I will have the information to restore it.

 

1970 Arctic Cat dune buggy prototype design renderings

These are the design renderings that I have created to judge what look the restored prototype should have. They are a work in progress as nothing has yet been decided.

 

1970 Arctic Cat SSSCAT I pre-production

Here is Scott Johnson's pre-production 1970 SSSCAT I. His dad is Quiten Johnson, he used to drive the factory race trailer for Arctic Cat. He wanted to buy a SSSCAT for his boy scott but was told they couldn't sell him one. As it happens he had to take a load of Arctic Cat mini-bikes and snowmobiles to Pennsylvania. When he arrived out there he asked the dealer if he could buy one and the dealer said yes. When he hauled it home he gave it to his son and he drove it until he outgrew it. Then it was put in a shed from about 1974-1984. after that it was pushed back to a old school bus and that's where it sat until two years ago. He came over and looked at my bikes and said that he still had his from when he was a kid so we drove to his farm and in that old buss there it sat in the back.We walked back to it and i tipped it back up and it had the fiberglass fenders so i said hey thats pretty neat to have them that was the first ones produced well this one has an all black seat cover with the chrome piping and on the back of the seat it says arctic cat in the fancy swirl like the panthers on the front of the hood. It was all original so after a closer look I saw this one has the footbrake. I told him he has a very rare mini-bike. The serial number is 000209 thats the ninth one off the line.

Thanks Wayne

 

 

1970 Arctic Cat Panther (back order sled), 760 JLO

This Cat is the 11th built in the 70 model year. Serial number 000011. This would seem to have been one of the backorders Arctic was trying to catch up on from the 69 run.

 

 

1970 Arctic Cat Panther Cross Country Prototype

This photo is of the cross country prototype at West Yellowstone. In 1970 Dale Cormican and Denny Ray's raced their world champion speed run sled that featured a 793cc Hirth with a radical mechanical fuel injection system. This looks to be it's long lost brother. Pictured with Boss Cat and King Kat designer Denny Ray sitting next to it. This machine had an extra long tunnel/track, Unique rear bumper assembly design, double tank and a 793 Hirth with the same type of fuel injection system.

 

 

1971 Arctic Cat Puma prototype

 

 

1971 Arctic Cat Panther prototype

 

 

1971 Arctic Cat EXT prototype, 440 Hirth

"There were a few running prototypes in 70 that were thrashed and trashed.  Most had Hirth motors and there was one JLo.  There were two sleds for the photo shoot. One that is in the flyer and was a running sled, 440 Hirth.  The other one was just a mock-up for looks and for press photos (what's left of this sled is still up in Thief River in really rough shape). The sled that was at the 2005 show was not a clone. Some of the differences between the prototype and the production 71 EXT are:  tunnels were different, rear bumper, sturups and gas tank mounting, seat has no cutouts for bumper, hood had no relief for the windshield to set in (it just bolted to the smooth surface of the hood, hood surfaces are similar but different, size and shape of motor cutout in hood is for the Hirth motor and exhaust, grill around headlight (there were 3 variations of this). One was like on the king kat prototypes (plastic pannel with a fin like pattern), and then a grill similar to the big mouth grill, but much narrower and shorter, first ones used the small headlight later ones had the 71 EXT style light."
Henry Briscoe.

 

****1970 Puma EXT prototype****

 

****1970 EXT prototype, Henry Brisco****

 

 

1971 Arctic Cat EXT prototype engine, 440 Hirth

1971 Arctic Cat Kitty Cat prototype, Clinton 2-stroke (50 Produced)

The 1971's were a batch of test sleds. there were around 50 made. They were quite different from the 1972 production Kitty Cats. The 1971's had a different front bulkhead and a silver flake fiberglass pan like the King Kats had. The ID plate was the same type used on the larger cats. The engine was a Clinton 2-stroke. No gear reduction, just the centrifugal clutch. The hood and pan are fiberglass. There is no kill switch built into the handle grip. Front hood vent is the same one used on the 1971 Kohler/Wankel Panther/Puma hood. The skis use hood trim on the tips and have a V shaped keel. The steering and bulkhead are totally different than a 1972/1973-. It also uses a piano hinge for the hood. It has a Fiberglass chain guard. The Hood is held down with pins through the locating brackets. The decal were unlike the 1972. They were very similar to the King Kat decals.

 

Dale Cormican testing out the Kitty Cat prototype

 

****1971 Kitty Cat prototype, Dale Cormican****

 

 

1971 Arctic Cat Evel Knievel King Kat 800 Kawasaki (2 Produced)

Evel Knievel's 1971 King Kat. Evel Knievels had two custom built King Kat  800's. Turns out, one is destroyed, the other owned by Evel's former chauffeur. Evel owed him some money, so he got the sled instead. Evel's tried to get it back but the current owner isn't selling.

 

 

1971 Arctic Cat Trail King Kat prototype 634 Hirth

This IS a King Kat chassis. The tag reads: Serial 1X29 - Model N-P. It was probably a 650 KK prototype that was built for the R&D shop. At some point it was stripped and someone took the bare chassis and made a trail rider out of it. Or, maybe it was a test sled, put together by the factory engineers to see how the "big" chassis performed as a trail machine. It looks like it has a Puma dash, complete with speedo, heat gauges, and a compass! It has a 1972 Panther/EXT handle bar pad. It has a 1972 Cheetah seat with Panther saddle bags. The gas tank might be a King Kat, or it is a 1972 Cheetah/Puma tank. The owner is pretty sure the track and suspension are from a Panther. The engine is a single carb, 634 Hirth with electric start, a can muffler and an 1190 Salsbury clutch. The tunnel, belly pan, body supports, front end assembly, hood, and skis are all King Kat.

 

 

1971 Arctic Cat 100,000th snowmobile

 

 

1972 Arctic Cat Kitty Cat 60 Kawasaki Yellow (50 Produced)

 

 

1972 Arctic Cat Kitty Cat 60 Kawasaki Red (50 Produced)

 

 

1972 Arctic Cat Cheetah prototype

 

 

1972 Arctic Cat Puma "EXP" prototype

 

 

1972 Arctic Cat EXT design drawings

 

 

1973 Arctic Cat Panther VIP prototype 440 Kawasaki (6 Produced)

 

 

1974 Arctic Cat Sno Pro custom prototype
340 Liquid cooled with magnesium Formula II chassis. This sled was built by Larry Coltom.

 

 

1974 Arctic Cat 3wheel scooter prototype

 

 

1974 Arctic Cat twin track Sno Pro prototype

This is a twin track prototype from 1974 shown with Charlie Lofton. They built it only to have one when they protested the Allouette twin track of Gilles Villeneuve. What they didn't realize was that it was the IFS suspension that made it handle well, not the twin tracks.

But Arctic took the threat seriously, and began their own twin track development plan.. of sorts. What evolved with the single Arctic Cat twin track snopro machine pictured here. Although finished at Arctic, it was actually built by an independent racer in the area. In fact, if you look close at the hood in this photo, you can see it says "designed and built by Roger Gage". Roger worked for Arctic, but was working on this at home when Arctic asked him to bring it in. The machines was designed with a rear drive clutch system so as to disconnect the inside track from driving a well - much like the later Ski-Doo twin trackers.

There were five twin track Arctic Cat prototypes made thoughout the mid to late 70's and early 80's.  They were never raced and were supposed to have been destroyed.  There are three still out there and restored. THe last two are AOL. They were all designed and built by Roger Gage.

Arctic created the fiberglass and got one of the 440 Snopro engines installed, and did some testing on the machine. They brought it out to one race, but it was never officially run. Shortly thereafter, it disappeared.

That is until a collector found it (Jim Strandlund) not far from his home. The nose of the fiberglass was broken off, but other than that, it was in tact. He brought it home and went to work on it. The glass went up to Kenny Halverson in Thief River Falls. Kenny had done some of the work on the fiberglass originally. He very nearly had it completed when disaster struck. Kenny's barn, and all the contents went up in a fire ball.

The chassis, motor and and all the other parts were safe. But the original glass is gone for good. Undaunted, the current owner and Kenny have constructed a new hood and completed the restoration for the 50th anniversary.

 

 

1975 Arctic Cat Trail Cat prototype

 

 

1975 Arctic Cat Trail Cat pilot build

 

 

1975 Arctic Cat Lynx prototype

 

 

1975 Arctic Cat Pantera prototype

 

 

1975 Arctic Cat El Tigre prototype

 

 

1976 Arctic Cat Spirit 295cc f/c prototype engine

 

 

1976 Arctic Cat 440X twin track sno pro

During the year 1976 this one and only Arctic Cat Twin Track 440X was designed and built in Thief River Falls Minnesota by Roger Gage in coordination with the Arctic Cat Research andDevelopment Department. Roger Gage and the Arctic Cat Advanced Racing Department built five different twin track race sleds during the years 1974 to 1981.

Mike Hornai of Arctic Cat was instrumental in the design and development of the original fiberglass body for the 440X. The twin track and roll cage design was a 1970ís era of innovation to help create safer race sleds for the drivers in the professional circuit. Sno Pro Racing and the consumer snowmobile market took a dive during the fuel crisis of the mid 1970ís. As a result, Arctic Cat was faced with financial troubles and ended R&D programs like this, eventually closing itís doors in 1980. This particular sled was sold in 1980 by Dave Thompson who was in the Arctic Cat Race Department. A farmer near Thief River Falls Minnesota purchased the sled, retiring the 440X to the farm for personal enjoyment.

In 2007 Mike Johnson located the sled and contacted Jerry Kienbaum in Spokane Washington to take a look at the 440X. The sled was routed to Eastern Washington, then wound up being purchased by an individual from the midwest. The ' 76 440X was then transported back to the midwest. Two years later the gentlemen that had bought the sled in 2007 decided to sell it and call Jerry to see if he still had interest.

Jerry purchased the sled this time around, routed the sled to Eastern Washington and accumulated the correct OEM parts necessary to do a complete restoration. By October 2009 Jerry had the sled, plenty of parts and "the" plan. The entire contents and outline was then transported to Western Washington to itís original innovator, Roger Gage at the beginning of 2010.

 

 

1976 Arctic Cat IFS prototype test mule

 

 

1976 Arctic Cat Pantera prototype

 

 

1976 Arctic Cat Cheetah prototype (3 produced)
This Cheetah (3rd built) has a 4 cycle 450cc Suzuki motorcycle engine.

 

 

1976 Arctic Cat rear engine prototype sled

 

 

1976 Arctic Cat Sand Cat prototype designed by Doug Dehnert

Doug Dehnert, working in special vehicle design at Arctic Cat, used a Pantera snowmobile as a base for the new vehicle. He modified it with a set of trailing arms holding a straight front axle and coil springs over shocks along with a special flared out hood to cover the new Catís tires. The width to the outside of the tires is 54 inches, which makes this vehicle very stable. 
In the fall of 1975 Doug and his crew loaded two units, with extra experimental parts to test, and went to the Imperial Sand Dunes, just west of Yuma, Ariz., just over the border into California. 
The Arctic Cat team tried rubber tracks with bogey wheel setups, like Ski-Doo had in its Olympic sleds, but the track was not stiff enough. They found it was better to use a rubber track with fiberglass rods and a slide-rail with assist wheels. Team Arctic, which seemed an ironic name in the hot, dry sand dunes, also used a K&N paper air filter for the carburetor. With the Suzuki 5000 motor being fan cooled the only major problem the team had was sand working its way into the drive clutch. Doug said the sandís grittiness wore parts out too quickly. 
Round two 
The determined Cat engineers went back to Yuma in the spring of 1976 with two new units and put 3,000 sandy miles on each. They tried different tires, one wide and one center ribbed, discovering that the regular narrow tires worked just as well in the sand. The sand machine ran well though and the Cat team was ready to meet with representatives from the United Arab Emirates to try and sell its concept, now known as the Sand Cat. 
Things got off to a rocky start, right from the beginning. Two units were shipped overseas, but one was lost in transit. Worse yet, when the remaining Sand Cat was being unloaded, it fell off a forklift and damaged its front-end. Doug had to quickly find an aluminum welder to do repairs on the remaining prototype. After fixing the Sand Cat the team loaded it into the back of a pickup and headed out to a rural spot to demonstrate the machineís capabilities to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. On the way to the demo site the pickup had a flat tire and the team ended up being late for the demo and had to reschedule it for 10 days later. The good news? By that time they had found the other Sand Cat The Sheikhís eldest son could speak English and took the Sand Cat for a ride. He was very impressed and wanted to know where he could mount a machine gun. With the Sand Cat having around 45 horsepower and being able to run 50 to 60 mph, this unique machine maneuvered well over the sand where other machines couldnít travel. He saw the Catís potential. 
Yet ultimately it didnít work out. After Doug had spent months overseas demonstrating the Sand Cat in the desert, Emirate officials still preferred to use pickups in the sand. Both Sand Cats were sent back to Arctic Cat, although one may have been sent on to the Mikuni offices in Japan. Only six Sand Cats were made and Iím lucky enough to have one in my collection. This is one I bought in the Arctic Cat auction in August 1982, when the original firm was selling off some assets during its bankruptcy. Iím not sure what happened to the other five prototypes. But thanks to Doug Dehnert and Arctic Cat for creating the Sand Cat. I feel lucky to have one. It still runs well, as the pictures here (and on our website) show. This was a unique unit and a very interesting chapter in Arctic Catís storied history.

by Les Pinz for American Snowmobiler magazine

 

 

1977 Arctic Cat motorcycle design prototypes

 

Arctic Cat founder Edgar Hetteen checking out his sled design.

 

 

1977 Arctic Cat Jag 3000, 340 Suzuki f/a "Charlie Cat" (10 Produced)

Darrell Dey owns two 1977 jags that were sponsered by Revlon to promote their "Charlie" and "Chaz" perfumes. These are appropriately dubbed a"Charlie Cat".

 

 

1978 Arctic Cat Lynx 2000 "Charlie Cat" (6-8 Produced)

 

 

1978 Arctic Cat Lynx 3000, 340 Suzuki f/a prototype

The hood has been widened for testing with the 3000 Spirit engine. It was cut up the front and below the windshield and glassed in place. The windshield is the original test sample. The handle bars have been extended higher. The gas tank is in good condition and appears to be off of a Lynx. The suspension is out of a 5000 El Tigre. There is no chain case and it has a Gillmar Drive.

 

 

1978 Arctic Cat Quad Trac Prototype Version 1

 

 

1978 Arctic Cat Quad Trac Prototype Version 2

 

1979 Arctic Cat El Tigre design drawings

 

 

1979 Arctic Cat Wetbike prototype

 

 

1979 Arctic Cat Sno Pro design drawings

 

 

1979 Arctic Cat Cross Country Cat prototype 340 Suzuki l/c (2 Produced?)

These 2 snowmobiles were produced in the fall of 1978. One was raced by Chester Boman and the other by Doug Oster. They were built by Tubby Lund and Roger Gage to test R&D ideas for the future. Many of the parts on these sleds are hand built.

 

 

1979 Arctic Cat Trail Cat prototype

 

 

1979 Arctic Cat Spirit 440cc l/c "lightweight" prototype engine

 

 

Late 1970's Arctic Cat rear engine prototype

 

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