Low Budget Retro Project: 1969 Ski-Doo Snowmobile

If you live in the North as I do, snowmobile season is starting to heat up. While the mountains in 2019 are filled with high-horsepower, long-track, light-weight sleds, 50 years ago, this one was the king of the backcountry. We recently featured a pair of 1972 Ski-Doo’s here on Barn Finds and this 1969 can be found for sale here on eBay. The current bid is less than $400 with a bit of time left. Located in Middletown, New Jersey, this vintage ride looks like a fun project to cruise some trails or as a conversation piece. Take a closer look and see if this might be your next project.

How neat is this painting? The cover of the manuel du conducteur (driver manual) looks like a blast! These snow machines won’t win any modern races or high-mark contests, but in the late 60s, they were great. No longer were your only options for getting into the backcountry skis or snowshoes!

You can see a 1978 registration sticker on the side. I’m not sure if this was the last time that it saw snow, but it could be. The seller says their dad had it running about ten years ago and that it “needs a new belt.” You can see in the photo above, the engine sits right between the rider’s legs. Groovy!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    ( crickets chirping) This, I believe is a SkiDoo Olympic 320. It was powered by the Rotax 318 single, about 18 hp. These were the sleds that started it all. And a belt indeed. You were a fool to venture out with one of these without a spare belt. Belt technology and clutch design made these belt eaters. Made for a different time, when pulling a sled full of kids at 15 mph was considered great fun and could still do that today. On the trails you’d be in peoples way. The last sledding trip I was on in N. Wis. we were cruising along, maybe 25,( and I had a relatively fast sled) which is plenty fast for the beat to heck trails today, in 2 minutes, 5 of these “super machines” were riding our tail, we pulled over and let them go by, they were irritating us by wanting to pass. Unless someone is a collector, there’s better vintage sleds to buy.

    Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      Oh, I meant to add, these were the sleds that screwed up peoples TV’s, with angry results. My 1st sled was the Polaris equivalent to this, a 1969 Polaris Charger. It had a 292 JLO single, 16 hp. and never ran right with the cowl on. It really was a crummy sled, yet, again, you had to start somewhere, and these gave the operator a taste of the most fun you can have with your clothes on. 50 years later, I still love it.

      Like 5
    • 408 interceptor

      I took the rear view mirror off my mountain bike and put it on my 99 phazer 500 just for that reason Howard, I’m trying to enjoy myself and don’t want to hold everybody up.

  2. On and On On and On Member

    They were smokey and stinky and loud but I loved it so much. Heading out miles in deep snow in minutes. I think my right arm still hurts today from these guys! What I do remember though was going out and stopping and with the engine off the peace, solitude and beauty of the north woods was awesome. I still do that today when I go out. It’s something to behold.

    Like 11
    • Howard A Member

      Gregg, you were a brave soul to shut one of these off. Many times, the “restart” could take all you had left,,

      Like 4
      • Ron Lord

        Agree with that! Had an old Arctic Cat that would run all day, but once you shut it off that was it!

        Like 4
      • On and On On and On Member

        Like I said, my right arm still hurts today!

        Like 5
      • Howard A Member

        Wasn’t just the old ones. The farm I lived on, the guy had a Polaris 600, 3 cylinder, fast, FAST fast, the only sled I went 90 mph on ( with a little left) but shut that POS off, that was it. One day, we rode all over, came back, parked it outside, hour later, wasn’t warm, wasn’t cold, no electric start, I pulled that cord for a half hour, dug a hole in the snow from my foot, went thru every plug the farm had, on the last set of “good” plugs, it fired, albeit, on 2 cylinders but was enough to get it inside. I never rode it after that. Note to all, get an electric start.

        Like 5
  3. Jay E.

    Cant improve on what has been written.

    Like 3
    • On and On On and On Member

      Yes you can Jay E. , your story or experience, your feelings. Thats what an open forum is all about. We are interested and want to hear it.

      Like 4
  4. Kenn

    The fun of snowmobiling when they were invented was busting through the woods in deep snow, making your own tracks, opening up to 25 or 30 mph(! ) on a frozen lake or river and watching the bow wave of snow going out on each side. Driving down a back country road to get to the forest was the closest to the trail riding on packed snow like today that we had, and it was more than plenty,. Yes, the sleds tipped easily, had non-existent suspension, steering took a measure of skill, and the excitement of using them surpassed anything modern snowmobiling offers today. IMO.

    Like 4
  5. Richard Gugenberger

    started riding on a Skidoo just like this one , compaired to todays machines it was a piece of crap , But it got us out there and it was fun . ride one day fix the next , belt chewing rough riding, tippy , hard starting ,but it got me hooked !! just sold my last machine since I go south in winter now . Biggest improvement in riding is the way trails are groomed and maintained now !!

    Like 3
    • Brian Scott

      Boy, isn’t that the truth that sleds have come a longgg ways since then. I cut my teeth (and probably lots of other appendages) on one of these (’69 Olympique), and the contrast to a modern rig is startling. My ’06 Arctic Cat Crossfire, ancient by 2019 standards, has not given me a lick of problems at all, and this is despite getting halfway sunk in a peat bog two years ago. Following a 7 hour ordeal, walking 7 miles, and 42 rescuers, I got out, and with some sweet talking was able to convince the authorities to help me (hey, six guys were right there) pull the machine out. They warned me about trying to ride it, but I rode it home that night. Then following a decent inspection confirming nothing was wrong, I’ve ridden it ever since. 120 hp and goes like a scalded rabbit, that Cat.

      Like 4
  6. Al

    Saw one once for sale in Atlanta. At the time, I wondered why ???

    Like 4
  7. Karl

    I for some reason miss these old sleds I had an old guy give me one just like this one it needed a belt and a plug good to go. I got rid of my last sled a couple years ago it was a 800 ZRT gosh I hated cleaning those carbs every year before the first ride! Don’t miss it doubt I ever will!

    Like 2
  8. Robert White

    I drove a friend’s Alouette 340 1973 which was roughly 34 HP and would always start back in the woods when we took it out at night whether we left it for a hour or more whilst having campfires in the snow. I never recall any time when that sled failed us except when it was crashed & totaled.

    The Alouette 340 sled was the fastest sled around until Evinrude came out with the reverse transmission.

    Never busted a belt with the Alouette either.

    Best sled ever except for the crash.

    Bob

    Like 5
  9. John Revels

    My 1st snowmobile, the winter (October, 1969) when I was 16 was a 1970 ski-doo Olympic 335E! The sled looked a lot like this one! The next fall it was traded in for a 1971 Olympic 335E, which had gone from the fiberglass hood to the plastic hood! I still have a sled that is almost like that 71— it is a 1972 Olympic 335E! I still ride it from time to time— and as stated earlier, you always have a back up drive belt and a lot of spark plugs! I have owned many snowmobiles over the years and still have 13 here by Louisville, Ky.(6 are Harley Davidson ones in my Harley collection)!

    Like 5
  10. Grid Member

    Snowmobiles were a MUST when I moved to Maine in the early 70s. I ended up with a 440JLO MotoSki, and a 340JLO John Deere (?). When I wasn’t boating the rest of the year I was preparing for The Snow. Those sleds started and ran so well! The snow came and I pulled starter ropes until my hands bled,. I put spark plugs in the oven. I put flood lamps by the blocks to keep them warm. They’d jump a 1/4″ spark, had 100# compression, 260 Sunoco. 8 months of the year they’d start on the second pull. The snow fell and that was it. But when they ran, they were fun.

    Like 1

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