Summer Rewind—The best of Old Sled Zone Sightings: 1970’s Ski-Doo Elite

Old Sled Sighting: 1970’s Ski-Doo Elite “The Pony Car” of Sleds

Restored Ski-Doo Elite snowmobile.
Restored Ski-Doo Elite snowmobile. Photo courtesy Doug Williamson

Over the summer we are pleased to rewind our most popular Old Sled Sightings from our SnoRiders Old Sled Zone page by re-posting the Top 10 most popular posts from last year.

From the dozens and dozens of Old Sled Sighting posts we have selected the best by reader reach.  Do you have an Old Sled story or photos to share?  Email SnoRiders at [email protected]

We are pleased to re-run these Top 10 most popular Old Sled Sightings postings, ranked by the number of people reached each week with our Facebook postings. We had a tie for #10.

#1 - Old Sled Sighting: 1970’s Ski-Doo Elite “The Pony Car” of Sleds — (Reach 1280)

Here's another vintage sled on display at the recent Cranbrook Snowmobile Club's Show and Shine. This photo, courtesy of Doug Williamson, shows a restored Ski-Doo machine ready to cruise the trails in style.

Though it must be said that some snowmobilers have been known to call the early Ski-Doo Elites, “a bathtub on skis complete with leather bucket seats,” this rather harsh evaluation misses the point of these classic side-by-side “people movers.” They just had more creature comforts build into every mile ridden.

Ski-Doo originally introduced the two-seater Elite model way back in 1973. The marketing vision was that the Elite would, in fact, appeal to the “elite,” or a more well-heeled, upscale snow riding clientele.

The heavy sled was designed to give a smooth ride while offering “nimble” handling despite its clumsy twin tracks and wide twin ski stance. This Elite model sported a rear-mounted 635cc fan-cooled twin engine.

It came with side-by-side seating that mimicked the “pony” cars of the day complete with 4-speed console mounted shift transmission lever located between the seats.

By the 1975 model the Elite's engine had been scaled back to a 436cc Rotax twin but the amenities upgraded to include a speedometer, tach, electric fuel gauge and, to appeal to the more urbane of the day, a cigarette lighter.

However, in 1976 the Elite was discontinued and wasn't revived again until several years later. This time the 1978 Elite came with a 444 liquid-cooled twin engine—gone were the bogie wheeled suspensions, now replaced by Ski-Doo's new Torque Reaction slide suspension system, promising to give the sled a smoother ride and better handling. Upgrades available included a CB radio (10-4 good buddy), a ski rack and AM/FM radio.

As I have written before, “The Elite hung around until 1983 when it was once again axed from the Ski-Doo production run. The Elite remained mothballed until its resurrection in 2005. This time a more sporty model was introduced with a Rotax 4-stroke 1/5-litre liquid-cooled engine, a airplane cockpit inspired “steering wheel” complete with heated grips, lockable front trunk and twin SC-3 rear slide suspension. But again Ski-Doo seemed to be playing to the snowmobiler who was seeking more “creature comforts” than sporty performance and side-by-side riding excitement. It still came across as your “father's Oldsmobile” – more “snow car” than “performance sled.”

Great to see a vintage Ski-Doo Elite plying the trails during this recent vintage event. Got a vintage snowmobile story or photos to share? Contact [email protected]

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