Stored Since 1983: 1973 Raider 44TT

As someone who grew up in the golden age of snowmobiling – the 1960s and 1970s – anything unusual like this 1973 Raider 44TT is solidly on my radar. They’re rare and they usually end up being among the most popular sleds at any vintage snowmobile event. This one can be found here on eBay in beautiful Vancouver, Washington with an unmet opening bid price of $1,150. Let’s check it out.

I refer to the 1960s and 1970s as the golden age for snowmobiles because there were a mind-blowing number of companies and individuals who weren’t afraid to jump into this red-hot market. The twin-track Raider was made from 1971 to 1975 and they were very unique. There may have been other manufacturers who tried twin-track snowmobiles but there weren’t many that made such a personalized pod of coolness as Leisure Vehicles, Inc. did with their Raider.

The 1971 models included both a Raider and a Roamer, which came with a bigger engine. After a redesign in 1972, the Raider came in four models with each model name representing the four different engine sizes. Variety is good, right? I think so. 1973 saw the company totally redesign the Raider once again and they now offered the 33TT and 44TT, again representing two different engine sizes. An odd, fun fact is that the 33TT, with a 400 cc engine, really has no logical reason to be named the 33TT, whereas the 44TT has a 440 cc engine.

An unusual feature of the first-year (1971) models was a twist grip for the throttle, but it was found to not work well over bumpy terrain and they went with what has been the standard ever since the “golden age” that I talked about earlier, the thumb grip. It’s obvious that new snowmobiles are so much nicer, better built, easier to ride, and reliable, but for those of us who like our vehicles interesting and sometimes more than a little odd, this was a great era to grow up in.

The seller mentions that this was their uncle’s Raider and this sled has been in storage since 1983. They say that there’s no rust but I’m assuming that means no rust-through as there appears to be a lot of surface rust almost everywhere. As previously mentioned, the 44TT has a 438 cc Canadian Curtiss Wright (CCW) twin with between 35 and 40 hp. It hasn’t been started in years, possibly decades, and the air cleaner is missing so there will be work to do mechanically, too. Have any of you seen a Raider snowmobile?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    I had a feeling one of these was coming up, and Scotty nailed it. I had a friend with one, can’t tell you what it was like, it never ran. I had a Scorpion with a CCW engine, and was a poor motor. I think they had weak crank seals. I read, some liked these, others didn’t, no surprise there. They claimed, flotation was good, but turning was a problem. Plus it required different rider techniques, as instead of sitting over the tunnel, you were in between the front and rear suspension, and they were back heavy. Getting a Raider unstuck was no fun. Nostalgia up the ying-yang, but there’s better snowmobiles, trust me.

    Like 10
    • On and On On and On Member

      I blew the CCW engine on my Scorpion, had it rebuilt and after that it kept blowing head gaskets. Switched over to Polaris sleds then. Never rode a Raider, see them at get togethers and shows and agree they are a compromise. Sitting ‘in’ a sled doesn’t seem right, no leaning in turns or shifting weight for control. Still as a novelty I’d own one just for fun. Can’t imagine riding one on trails today, you would be in the way!

      Like 7
  2. David

    My uncle had a Raider as well. I don’t remember which version. I remember my uncle also owned another unusual machine. I think it was called a Ladybug? Like the Raider you sat inside a shell. If my memory serves me correctly it had a steering wheel, not handlebars. But back to the Raider; I remember enjoying driving it. However being a passenger, which meant sitting above the engine cowling, hanging on for dear life while my older brother did his best to scare the c#%p out of me, was not so much fun.
    After my uncles experiment with the unusual sleds of the 1970’s he went back to Arctic Cat.

    Like 1
  3. Jay E.

    Raiders suffered from the lousy engine and clutching. The were slow and with only a couple of inches of rear suspension did not handle well.They were not popular. If I recall they had no reverse either, so unlike the twin track Ski-doo Elite, they were impossible to get unstuck except by going forward. A poor execution of an interesting idea even by 70’s standards. If you want a vintage sled to look at, perhaps, but you wont be riding this one much even if you shoehorned a modern powertrain into it.

    Like 7
  4. Roy L.

    Who cares if it runs, just put it in front of your tavern in Wisconsin. It’s a sure attention grabber.

    Like 6
  5. Comet

    With two tracks and the inability to use body english in turns, this thing must have been a bear to get around corners. I grew up in Wisconsin and Michigan, I never saw one being ridden.

    Like 3
  6. Jc

    death Via snowmobile … ….. I love it !! A buddy of mine had one and said it was a coffin w tracks!! But he loved it !!! Exhilarating !!
    Viva la speed!
    Excellent ! J-
    😎👍

    Like 4
  7. George Mattar

    I have seen these at vintage shows. Have a small following. The guy who designed it died a few years ago. Some vintage sleds are super collectible. Not these.

    Like 1
  8. John Revels

    I have a 1974 Double Eagle (the gold one) 440 sitting in my barn with several other old snowmobiles! It snows very seldom here so they only get rode every few years. This sled is stable, turns great, and is fun to drive!

    Like 2
  9. Mike Wickern

    They didn’t have air cleaners, velocity stacks,or intake silencers. Worked on a few in the 80’s. They ran in the I-500 Minneapolis to Winnipeg race in the 70’s. Crookston MN was a 2 hour pit stop, some of these old sleds cracked 100 mph with 1 or 2 inches of front or rear suspension travel.

    Like 2
  10. sherwin m sieden

    I wanted one of these since I was a kid and saw it in hot rod in 1972. my dream came true last month when I found a mint condition 440 for sale a mile from my house. wife thought I was crazy but could not resist and it now sits in my shop on display. will probably never ride it but a super cool piece for people to admire. It is actually pretty comfy once you are in it. who knows, next snow I may take her for a spin.

  11. BRENDAN PHILBRICK

    Just found my old 1973 34tt ,,,all the damage I did to it and more …..CCW ,m otor was excellent ,,,still running strong …They were heavy in back but it also gave em traction for metal cleats ,like an old arctic cat , It would wheelie like mad ,,esp w a passenger ,,,which was dangerous . I rolled mine w a kid on the back ,,,glad he wasnt hurt . I jumped mine so much bent the motor mount moving clutch away from driven ,,,loosing top end ,,,but it was wicked out of the hole ,,,,my buddy would pass me at end of field on 440 tnt …only because of bent mount,,,,ha ha still kickin ,,mayb I will buy it ,,,I know my brother will…..

  12. robert haggerty

    I own 3 Raiders a 1973 44tt, 1974 34tt and a 1974 44tt with the greatly improved CCW case/ reed 440. All have Salsbury Clutches. The real issue is the carbs. I started riding Raiders in 1979 in NW MT. At that time they could keep up with any sled on the market except in deep powder. They were extremely dangerous on side hills, but loved to climb. I still ride them in central Oregon, but these days I don’t leave the groomed trails. I leave the deep stuff for the RMKs. These sleds are a lot of fun on smooth trails, but are not for kids or inexperienced riders. They are prone to rolling and pinning the rider inside or worse rolling over them.

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