Rare Snowmobile: 1967 Bolens Diablo Rouge 500

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The seller has this unusual snowmobile listed as a 1968 model, but I believe that it may be a 1967 Bolens Diablo Rouge 500, as in 1968 they had a white stripe on the top of the hood/cowl and louvers up there to dissipate the heat a little better. They have it posted here on Facebook Marketplace and it’s located in Willmar, Minnesota. They’re asking $3,200, here is the original listing, and thanks to Mathew for sending in this tip!

They were only made for 1967, 1968, and 1969 (and possibly in 1966) at which point the Port Washington, Wisconsin lawn and garden company had worked out most of the bugs from the early design. This one is a later 500 as seen in the heavy-duty bumper brackets, compared with the inferior two-bracket front bumper on the early 500s. The 500 also has a chrome nose cone, which would have been painted body color on the 502 and 503.

This example is very rare and not just because it’s such an unusual configuration for a snowmobile. The 500 models don’t come up for sale too often, not that the later 502 or 503 models come up for sale often. This snowmobile is different in being a “tractor” that pulls a “sled” with a seat and storage compartment where the rider/driver sits. Whatever you do, though, do NOT put your head over the handlebars because if you go over a bump, they’ll rise up and knock your teeth out. The 1960s was the golden era for snowmobiles, and it’s weird and fun to see that there isn’t even a tail light on this one, that wouldn’t fly today.

Lights, ignition, choke, start – lights, ignition, choke, start… There’s a children’s song there somewhere. You can see that the start handle is missing, which isn’t a good sign. You’ll want to replace that, it may be hard to start this beast without that. The twin tracks have heavy-duty aluminum cleats and 28 “bogies”, as far as the suspension goes.

The engine looks tiny compared to this big, rugged machine, doesn’t it? This whole machine has been restored and I wish they would have shown the VIN or data sticker/s, but we have to assume that this is the original engine to this Diablo, which should be a Hirth 54R 300-cc single-cylinder with 16 horsepower. They don’t say how it runs but I’m assuming that since it’s been rebuilt it runs fine, although it’ll be a chore to start it with the broken starter pull. Are any of you into vintage snowmobiles? If so, have you heard of these unusual Bolens models?

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  1. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    I know I’m partial to all of Scottys posts, but you have to admit, he brings some unusual stuff through here. I can only imagine what DOESN’T get printed. He knows we have a kindred connection on snowmobiles, both hailing from the North Pole, and I have seen these before, just never on the trail.
    We’ve discussed snowmobiles before, to recap slightly, the upper midwest was the absolute king of snowmobiles. With 9 million lakes,( est) it was just the thing until the lakes thawed. Clubs sprang up, many making their own trails with crude “drags” and a Skidoo Alpine. For a family, one could get 2 sleds AND a trailer for under a grand. It was one of the most fun things I did in the winter with my family.
    Everybody jumped on the bandwagon, in a normally slow time for outdoor sports. Some half baked creations, as shown, showed up, but all meant for the same thing, and it was BIG! If this trips your trigger, snowmobile museums are around( in northern areas, ) and meets that feature this stuff, and well worth your time. It’s a great find, and for puttin’ around the yard, the grandkids will love it, and might teach them a thing or 2 WHEN it breaks down.
    My sleds included: 1969 Polaris Charger( as a kid), a Scorpion Super Stinger 400 ( hated that sled) then I hit the big time, a ’77 Yamaha 340 Exciter, put a ton of miles on, it never broke, then a ’76 440 Exciter, then went nuts with a ’80 Yamaha SRX 440, 1st liquid cooled , and boy howdy, that sled flew. Surprised I didn’t kill myself on that one. Kept up with all the big boys and their Skidoos, but was a poor design. Ate water pumps, and had to run on pre-mix, fan cooled is the only way. I miss it still, and living in the Rockies, you’d think would be heaven for snowmobiles, and it is, however, rentals at $250/ afternoon are out of reach for me,,,,all sleds have “avalanche poles” and all sleds are “castrated” for 20 mph. Meh, save it for the flatlanders that come to visit. The rush is going fast! The saying was, “The most fun you can have with your clothes on”,,

    Like 12
    • Stan

      The snowmobiling is polulaire in the provinces too Howard…. it was the best way to travel around the traplines, ice fishing 🎣 and head into town. The small town saloon would have more ski doos than cars parked sometimes.
      Blasting up the ski hill on a sled.. Fantastic fun. ❄️

      Like 6
    • J C

      I had two bolens huskies
      You had to literally turn the whole tractor part to make a corner and when you went up a hill the handle bar would come down on your legs and pinch you to the seat. They used a Jlo motor.

      Like 0
  2. alphasudMember

    I guess my only question is does it come with a mower deck and maybe a rototiller attachment for summer use? These old snow machines are funny when compared to a modern sled.

    Like 12
    • HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

      I tried to find out what it’s actual purpose was, and apparently, it was someones idea to pull the rider around. I read, they are almost unstoppable, but known to knock the front teeth out of riders by that crossbar.

      Like 4
    • Kim in Lanark

      I thought of the same thing. If you could gear it down and get some sort of power take off, you could do wonders.

      Like 0
  3. "Edsel" Al leonardMember

    A zero-turn….on snow!!!! Whooda thunk!!!

    Like 3
    • MotorWinderMember

      Yes Al, I learned the hard way how not to “zero turn” …
      My brother had the cousin to these, the lesser model the Husky.
      I had wooden cleats … I snapped almost everyone off on one track trying to turn too quickly while out ice fishing, would have been around ’72 …
      Was he pissed at me =p
      But man they were fun!! a precursor to front wheel drive =] woohoo!

      Like 0
  4. Big Al

    That seat does not look very comfy. I would not get far and
    my butt would be killing me ! ouch !!!

    Like 2
  5. Jeff

    Seems at least as dangerous as it is interesting.

    So exactly how do you steer this contraption? Are those brakes on each corner of the handle bar, that you squeeze both to stop, or squeeze just the one on the right to turn to the right (and vice versa)? In which case if you fell off it would just keep right on going without you?

    Or are they accelerators so that you squeeze both to go straight, and squeeze the one on the left to turn to the right (and vice versa)?? Which would make me feel like I had dyslexia, and would also add yet another way to get your teeth knocked out by this beast if your hands slipped off both of those going over a hump.

    Like 2
    • Brian

      Jeff, you turn by turn the handle bars like any other sled. The right lever is the accelerator and the the left is the brake also like any other sled. These replaced the Hus Ski which was the original version. The real problem with these is there is no suspension. Trust me when I say that is a really big problem. Although this looks really nice it would be a world’s record if it sold anywhere near the asking. The usual selling price on these currently is between $800 and $1500 that I have ever seen or heard of.

      Like 1
  6. DavidH

    I never owned one of these but as a young teenager spent some time riding on one. Although I never was the operator I remember this was a very maneuverable machine in the woods. My friend’s grandfather kept one at his camp in the Adirondacks. He had made an additional sled that attached behind the factory seat that permitted another three or four little people to enjoy being dragged around through the winter wonderlands.

    Like 8
    • MotorWinderMember

      Yes David, the heavy sleds of the day just couldn’t keep up with these in deep snow in the back woods, you just had to push down on the handle bar and that roaring engine would pull itself straight up and out of any deep snow, we’re talking 2.5 + feet of snow!!

      Like 3
  7. Maggy

    Cool looking machine but an accident waiting to happen.

    Like 2
  8. Troy

    What a interesting machine I have never seen one like that I would definitely be looking at other things it could also be used for

    Like 1
  9. TheOldRanger

    I’m so glad I live in an area when these things don’t exist. I have lived up north for a while, and was so happy to get back south again. This is an ugly contraption, by the way.

    Like 2
  10. Big C

    Companies in the 60’s and 70’s were always thinking up cool ways for people to injure themselves. What happened to that innovation? We’ve lost a step, for sure.

    Like 2
  11. Ski

    Mid 60’s to early 80’s was a very innovative period for recreational vehicles such as dirt bikes, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, etc. That being said, many designs were tried and failed or weren’t in production long. This was all part of the process. And we had a great customer base in the baby boomers hungry for recreation type vehicles. Which coincidentally the boomers are reliving their youth by creating a market for such vehicles. Look at the recent Las Vegas auction results for motorcycles as there were some ridiculously high prices paid for some seemingly low valued or mundane products like what we see here….crazy.

    Like 0
    • MotorWinderMember

      may I ask Ski, are you a “Boomer”?

      Like 1
  12. JCH841

    We had both a HusSki and a Diablo Rouge. Later went through several SkiDoos including the TNTs.

    Like 1
  13. Howie

    I have never seen one, that seems like a great price, posted 3 weeks ago.

    Like 2
  14. chrlsful

    this style all ways reminded me of the Zamboni (hockey ring ice machine). The annology breaks down w/the push-dwn-on-back, plop-over to side (left, right) to-steer mechanics of it all. Buta big bx w/the guy on the back…

    It’s kinda a take off on the Gravely? w/a sulky tow-B-hind (own wheel, 2 w/an axel, or none – just a peg w/a tractor seat/simple pad or iron)?

    We’d have a lill tow behind seat & could put ‘anything’ on the frnt (B4 the motor/wheels) or after for ‘attachments’ (cord wood saw, tiller, mower, water pump, etc, etc). We thought of them as lill jeeps to our CJs. The CJ a lill tractor, and so on up~

    Like 1
  15. Handsome Pristine Patriot

    A Yellow and black, slope nosed Hus-Ski was made by Bolens as well and as I recall was 10 HP
    I recall trying one out before purchasing a 16 horse ’68 Super Olympique Bombardier SkiDoo in ’67.
    The dang Hus-Ski was just plain scary!
    One needed excellent arm and leg strength, or it would throw you around like a rag doll when turning on anything where it could get a good hold, like wind packed and drifted snow and really had no steering ability on ice.
    Course I was 14 years old, so that may have clouded my judgement.
    When things got dicey, you always had the added danger of jack-knifing and getting tangled up in the power unit.
    The Old Man was pretty keen on getting one to yard Christmas trees and small diameter firewood with, but thankfully. about that time, he acquired an International T-340 dozer that worked quite similarly, even riding up on the snow to some extent when it got deep.
    Here’s some good historical reference info for both Bolens machines


    Like 2
  16. JCH841

    Bringing back memories. The engine in ours came with a crankshaft seal installed backwards, apparently a common issues as there was no pushback on getting a new one installed under warranty. The servicing dealer had a pet Diablo Rouge with porting and a shaved head that he let me drive. It was more of a handful.

    Like 0
  17. Thomas Morrison

    I rode one while working at a small engine shop in Michigan 1976. The link let go between the front drive unit and sled and dragged me around the yard a bit before I could release the throttle lever. Fun…There’s still a unit called “Snowdog” that’s just like the Bolen snow machine.

    Like 0
  18. Howie

    Many of these in action on YouTube.

    Like 0
  19. JCH841

    Motorwinder – we had a standing order at the local lumber dealer for a dozen oak cleats at a time. The drive wheels would chew through them so it was regular maintenance to replace them. We bought 1/4 x 16 stove bolt, nuts and washers by the box. Didn’t bother with the largely superfluous metal cleats on the outside.

    Like 1
    • MotorWinderMember

      You know JC, the saddest thing is we have MUCH less snow fall than 50 yrs ago… those were the days of not going fast, but just getting out!!

      Like 1
  20. JCH841

    MotorWinder -We used to start before Thanksgiving and finish after Easter.

    Like 2

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