Old Sled Sighting: 1974 Skiroule Wankel Rotary Engine

The original creator of the Skiroule snowmobile was a 20-year old sled enthusiast from Quebec.

A rare vintage sled, the Skiroule RTW.
A rare vintage sled, the Skiroule RTW. Photo courtesy Murray Shellborn

The recent Edmonton Snow Show was a great place to check out all the newest and latest technology in snowmobiling. It was also a great spot to find some of the finest vintage and antique snowmobiles on display as well.

In our continuing series here is a classic collectors machine: a 1974 Skiroule RTW. 

The accompanying information card stated, "A rare find!  1974 Skiroule RTW. Said to have only manufactured 100. They offered for the last year of production, the model RTW with a Wankel rotary engine, with an orange cab. Very few machines were sold and today they are sought after by collectors."

Year: 1974
Make: Skiroule
Engine: Wankel Rotary
Owner: Anthony Axley

In the heydays of snowmobiling, the Skiroule snowmobiles were manufactured and marketed by the Coleman Company, Inc., the “lantern” company that still specializes in outdoor recreation products and equipment.

The original creator of the Skiroule snowmobile was Rejean Houle, of Wickham, Quebec. He was a 20-year-old snowmobile enthusiast who took his idea from concept to a final production model.

Houle, whose father Jerome operated a farm equipment manufacturing business in Wickham, built a few prototype snowmobiles in his father's shop in about 1962 or '63. As the story goes, he commandeered some of the manufacturing personnel to assist him when his father was away on company business – as his father was rather skeptical about the viability of the snowmobiling business.

Perseverance paid off, and Rejean Houle began Skiroule production for the 1966 model year. Sales increased dramatically over the next few years and a new modern manufacturing plant was built to keep up with the demand for sleds.

Origin of Skiroule name: SKI Rejean hOULE.

Then Rejean Houle sold Skiroule to the Coleman Company in 1969. They continued to be produced in Quebec. Skiroule snowmobiles were built from 1966 until 1977. Coleman probably could have weathered downturn in the snowmobile industry in mid-1970’s but corporate policy likely dictated the sale of the no longer profitable snowmobile business division. Herbert M. Karol (HMK), an American Industrialist, bought Skiroule and operated it until mid-1976. 1977 prototype models were built but bankruptcy brought an end to company.

In most cases Skiroule were painted a distinctive green colour, thus they took on the nickname the “green bullets,” – or in this unique case the “orange bullet.”

Evidently, the Houle family farm equipment company is still going strong in Quebec. Jerome Houle (the father) is over 80 and in good health, (as of 2010) and a book was published in 2001 about him and the Houle family businesses.

Do you have a vintage snowmobile story? Share it with us: [email protected]

Source: Facebook, internet site - rtxdoug

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