Old Sled Zone: 1970’s Skiroule S-400

The Cranbrook Snowmobile Club held their annual vintage snowmobile rally in February.

Here is a Skiroule S-400, sitting on the trailside.
Here is a Skiroule S-400, sitting on the trailside. Photo courtesy Doug Williamson

Our intrepid photographer and general motorsports enthusiast Doug Williamson sent us a great gallery of vintage snowmobiles which made their appearance on the Lumberton trails at the recent Cranbrook Snowmobile Club’s annual vintage snowmobile rally, held back in February.

Here is a great-looking Skiroule S-400 sitting on the trailside—in near showroom condition.  Doug wasn’t able to get the names of the owners, but you have to agree this snowmobile enthusiast looks pretty proud of the vintage teal-green Skiroule – and rightly so!

Talking about history of the Skiroule machines, here’s a little scenario: 

You can almost imagine the discussion that took place in the Coleman executive suites in the late 1960’s. Everybody was getting into the red hot snowmobile market from John Deere tractors to Evinrude outboard motors – and Coleman didn’t want to be left on the sidelines and out of the action.

Executive #1: “If we can dominate the lantern market with the outdoor crowd, why can’t we leverage our brand and name recognition to produce and sell a lineup of snowmobiles?”

Executive #2: "What do we know about building and selling snowmobiles?"

Executive #1: "Nothing! That’s true, but we’ve got the customer base. Why don’t we buy our way into the market?"

Executive #2: "Buy our way in? How would that work?"

Executive #1: "Easy, I heard there is a company in Quebec, that’s in Canada, right? They might be for sale at the right price?”

Executive #2: "Good company?"

Executive #1:  "Gotta be, that’s where snowmobiles were invented.  I’ll see what we can pick it up for and get back to you. Just like our lanterns, these snowmobiles could have bright future for us.”

Here’s a bit of history on the Skiroule machines:

“From 1964 to 1966 Rejean Houle built prototype snowmobiles (40 in 1964 and 200 in 1965) before introducing the first commercial Skiroule model in 1966 when 700 were produced. The origin of the Skiroule name is from SKIRejean hOULE. The machines were produced in Wickam, Quebec, Canada.

In 1969, Coleman bought the company and the Skiroule models carried the Coleman logo until 1975 when the HMK (Herbert M. Karol) Manufacturing Company of Montreal, Quebec bought the Skiroule line from Coleman.

In 1976, Skiroule went bankrupt and very few 1977 models were ever produced. With the 1972 RTX, Skiroule produced its most appealing model.”

Skiroule had a short and colourful existence in the snowmobile world, though the machines remain a popular collector’s item with old snowmobile lovers today.

Do you have a vintage snowmobile story or photos? Share them with us at [email protected]

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