Cool Custom Cat: 1937 Chevrolet Snow-Cat

I’ll jinx it for sure to say that winter may finally be over here in the upper-Midwest part of the U.S. since some areas just had a few inches of snow again yesterday. This 1937 Chevrolet-based custom Snow-cat doesn’t have to be driven on snow. It can be found here on craigslist in the Hastings, Michigan area. The seller is asking $2,400 for this project. Thanks to Matt R. for sending in this tip!

This truck or off-road vehicle or snow-cat or whatever a person calls it, started out as a 1937 Chevrolet pickup. One thing about the internet is that rarely does anything go away once it’s on there, for good or bad. This custom machine was listed on eBay three years ago in Phillips, Wisconsin with a $1,500 asking price and apparently it didn’t sell the first time and then it was relisted again in Phillips with an $1,800 price listed. The second listing says that it was ended early because the item is not available so I don’t know if someone bought it or what happened.

Now it’s in Michigan and is for sale again. The eBay listing from 2016 says that this truck was built by Helmut Fritz for the DNR in the 40s and they have not tried to start it. The current seller mentions that they were told that it was one of four built for the Forest Service in 1937 and when they drove it, it was great and would go over anything but it’s been sitting for a long time and the engine is frozen now. I’m totally confused. The eBay listing from 2016 included a few additional photos which may be helpful for any serious bidders, such as this one.

There were also a couple of additional interior photos, showing both the driver’s side and the passenger side interior. I really wanted to see one behind the seats and to see the rear doors open, but there isn’t one. Other than the seats obviously being shot, the rest of the interior hopefully wouldn’t be too much trouble to restore. You can see the hydraulic stick steering arrangement in place of the original steering wheel. And, a heater, but no word on if it works or not.

In fact, they say that the engine has frozen from sitting for an undetermined amount of time so whether the heater works is a moot point, for now at least. This engine should be Chevy’s 216 cubic-inch Blue Flame Six which would have had 78 hp and 170 ft-lb of torque in pickup livery. I can’t imagine that it would be impossible to get this engine working again for most Barn Finds readers. The question really is, what would you use this cool Chevy custom tracked vehicle for?


  1. Steve R

    Maybe the guy in Romania with the 37 featured on this site a few days ago could follow this sellers lead.

    Like 5
  2. Brakeservo

    New meaning to “Track day car.”

    Like 13
  3. Kenneth Carney

    Here ya’ go Mike! This thing will get you
    to your favorite see-loon during the winter
    months! Drop in a 235, 250, or a 292 and
    you’d really have the ultimate winter driver. Add a snow blade to the front, and
    clean up plowing parking lots or city streets. I like it but have no real use for it.
    Anyway, back to work! I’m doing a portrait
    of the ’37 Ford woody we saw a few days
    back. I’ll post it here when I’m finished

    Like 6
  4. Bob McK Member

    I need this to drive the streets of Fort Lauderdale during the tourist season. It would be so much fun to run over the cars that clog the streets. But we love the tourists money, so perhaps that is not a good idea.

    Like 7
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    You can use it to drive through the local drive-thru during the next spring blizzard. I saw some machines from the 30s that were built for traversing snow. Most of them ran skis and were prop-driven. Some manufacturers actually tooled up and built them on a larger scale. And some even got quite sophisticated…

    Like 10
    • Howard A Member

      Neat! Get a top rotor, I bet it would fly. I saw a bunch of vintage pictures of the UP of Mich. in the 30’s(?), and there were several examples of home made snow buggies like this. Apparently, it was a fairly popular way to get around . One was pretty crude, a sleigh, basically, with a motor and prop like this. No guards, nothing, whew.

      Like 3
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        A top rotor? Like a helicopter? Wonder how the FAA would license that? The club has got its hands full just getting a regular prop for it; I shudder to think of what that’s going to cost. There’s a two-bladed variable pitch prop for sale in Great Falls for the firm price of $19K. Of course it’s for a much larger machine; it’s got to be 18 ft. in diameter (maybe we could use that for a top rotor?). They’re slated to begin restoration this year, and they’re kind of hinting to a friend and I to rebuild the engine and prop (Did I hear a train whistle?).

        Like 2
    • Dallas

      Snow plane! My grandfather and his brother each had one of these on their farms in rural Manitoba, Canada in the ’40s. Grandpa used it to drive kids to school across snowy fields in wintertime, as they didn’t yet plow the roads for the school bus. I had the last ride in it in 1979 before it was permanently stored. I remember that ride well, it was loud and exhilarating! The interior was the forerunner of “stow and go” – a couple chairs that weren’t even bolted down. “Brakes” were a skid under the cab operated by a lever. Safety last, but amazingly fun and practical.

      Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi Dallas. I’m curious. What did they use for power? A lot of the homebuilt ones used a Model A engine but some used a Ford V8 and ran V-belts up to the prop shaft. This is the only one I’ve seen with an actual aircraft engine (although I’ve heard of others). There was a local guy who subscribed to a newspaper (I believe) out of Saskatchewan. One issue featured an article about ski planes in Canada and down into North Dakota and Eastern Montana. It showed some pics and they looked (well) homemade. But they obviously got the job done…

        Like 1
  6. Stevieg Member

    Wow! This is cool! I have no clue what I would do with it but I want it! Prett strange for a guy who is plotting how to relocate to the desert from the rust belt lol. Maybe I could find a use for it in the heat & sand.

    Like 2
  7. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    In looking at this one again, I believe that the number plate shows it to be a 1937 Master, sedan delivery or coupe pickup(?), according to one source, but one other source says a Master passenger or sedan delivery. I was going by what both this seller has listed as it being from a pickup. Does anyone know for sure how to decode the tag shown on the CL ad?

    Like 3
    • Thor

      The body style 37-1211 is a two door sedan.

      Like 3
  8. BillM

    It may have been used pulling ice fishing shacks out onto the ice.

    Like 4
  9. Ken

    THAT was professionally built? It looks like something Uncle Elmer cobbled together in his shed after a few too many Old Styles in the winter of ‘49.

    Like 10
    • Howard A Member

      Hey Ken, to be clear, I’ve known several “Uncle Elmers” from the area, and they know what they”re doing.

      Like 4
  10. Howard A Member

    Ahem,,I’m not sure if I’m proud or embarrassed to say I lived in Phillips for several years before moving to Colorado. To say this is a Sno Cat, possibly referring to the Tucker Sno Cat is a bit of a stretch, but, like they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and you had to start somewhere. Phillips is a nice community, located in the Northwoods of N. Wis. lake country, and logging has been in it’s history forever, fact is, it started as a logging town until it burned to the ground in a forest fire in 1894. The Northwoods is pretty rugged, more so in the 30’s, winters were tough, and aside from a horse, this was the only way to get back into the woods, as logging in winter was the best time to do that, still is. This is crude by todays standards, but was high class back then, I bet. I suppose for the fun factor, or “whatizit?” group, but I’m sure it’s a beast to drive, and there’s far better ways to get back into the woods today. Pretty cool, tho. Thanks Scotty for the Phillips plug.

    Like 5
  11. Ted

    This is from the Snake Plissken personal collection.

  12. Jay E.

    If you drive it on anything but snow, you are going to spent a lot of time replacing cracked track grousers. And side hilling on ice would be a ride you don’t want to make. I would say this will be a slow and noisy ride, and best suited for driving to your cabin on a packed trail.

    Like 6
  13. James

    This thing is sweet. Take the tracks off and drive it like a car. Kind of reminds me of those tractors with a cab like a car, Minneapolis Moline made them I think.

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      You must be referring to the Minneapolis Moline UDLX. I thought about the same thing…

      Like 12
      • James

        Yes sir! Those things are so cool!

        Like 4
  14. BR

    I’m curious about the drive train. There were no hydrostatic transmissions back in those days, in fact the application of hydraulics was still pretty limited. To say the steering is hydraulic, and it has a worm gear differential, I believe are very ignorant statements. For one thing, you wouldn’t want a differential in this type of machine. It probably has two dry type steering clutches and a bevel gear case out of an old farm tractor.

    Like 1
    • Edward Brush

      Most likely, it just has a separate hydraulic circuit for each rear axle brake – two master cylinders, one for each lever. Yank on the left one, the left brake stops the left track, and you turn left. On a lightweight machine, simple differential brakes will work well enough.

  15. Chris

    Afternoon Folks,
    Geomechs, you might try sourcing a prop from the FL. fellows that run the ‘Glade machines. Seems to be about the right size for your cool project.
    Yours looks like one of the Lake Ladoga machines the Russians used to get supplies into Leningrad in the winters, going across the frozen lake within the almost 3 year siege of the city during WWII. Undoubtably saved lives.

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Thanks for the suggestion, Chris. Never gave the Glad Machine any thought. But then, we spend more time trying to get over the snow than the swamps, although there is some land that would be better served with a glade machine.

  16. That Guy

    This looks like something Sid from Toy Story would have frankensteined together. It’s both cool and a bit terrifying.

    Like 1
  17. bigblocksrock

    Have absolutly no use for it but I don`t care. It`s cool & I would just sit in it & make engine noises.

    Like 3
  18. chrlsful

    “…what would you use this…vehicle for?…”
    Get the sap in from the bush right now.

  19. Karl

    I have a Tucker Sno Cat that sure works well I think best I stick with that.
    As far as the snow planes my dad and I each had one when I was growing up I bought mine in 8th grade it had an 85 hp Lycoming and my dad’s had a 65 hp Continental. Could pretty much go as fast as terrain and stopping distance would allow. I learned how to prop planes from these unit since neither had electric starters.

    Like 2
  20. Tom Nader

    thats a car body not a truck look at the length of doors and windows and its a hack job more than likely built by some mom and pop auto body shop or wrecking yard out of a wrecked two door coupe

    Like 1
  21. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    The CL listing was deleted by the author, it must be sold!

    Like 1

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