Old Sled Zone: 1980 Arctic Cat Trail Cat — Purring on the Trail

Thanks to Jamie Johnston Cagle for sharing a photo of her vintage Arctic Cat Trail Cat

An impressive vintage Arctic Cat Trail cat, along with an equally impressive vintage helmet.
An impressive vintage Arctic Cat Trail cat, along with an equally impressive vintage helmet. Photo courtesy Jamie Johnston Cagle

Looks like it’s time to re-visit the Arctic Cat Trail Cat, compliments of reader Jamie Johnston Cagle. Jamie recently sent us a photo of her vintage AC sled. Other than the cool Trail Cat itself, what has us equally intrigued about this photo is the old stars and stripes helmet perched on the seat of this Trail Cat 4000. That helmet in itself is a classic!

Typically these machines were good on the trails, not so great on open terrain. This snowmobile was considered a workhorse in the Arctic Cat lineup in the late 1970's and early 1980's. They sported a fan-cooled Suzuki engine and were as reliable as the day was long, though reportedly these machines were a bit nasty to start.

Early Arctic Cat ad copy championed the smooth ride of the Trail Cats and our favourite line of description was, “(The) Trail Cat purrs with agreeable accoutrements; illuminated gas and oil gauges, a choice or 340 or 440 fan cooled, oil injected engine.”

The copy read, “Bumps disappear under the advanced technology that Arctic Cat applies to the trail with the 1980 Trail Cat. Trail Cat's remarkable suspension system is an Arctic first in the consumer sled market. Everyone knows the problem: trails, no matter how beautiful or scenic, eventually erode and rivet your attention to a few impending feet in front of your snowmobile. The result is a ride that envies the main attraction at an amusement park. In developing Trail Cat, Arctic Cat engineers took the sophisticated ride characteristics of the Cats one step further, utilizing a new long travel slide rail suspension system. Coil springs over the shocks up-front on the skis combine with torsion springs on the front arm and external coil springs over shocks on the rear arm to produce a smooth and comfortable ride. Trail Cat purrs with agreeable accoutrements; illuminated gas and oil gauges, a choice or 340 or 440 fan cooled, oil injected engine.”

Summing it up, “It's an impressive achievement in the evolution of Arctic engineering.”

Thanks to Jamie Johnston Cagle for sharing a photo of her vintage Arctic Cat Trail Cat and hang on to that classic helmet.

So do you have an old sled sighting or story to share? Did you ever own a Arctic Cat Trail Cat? Share your stories and photos with us: [email protected]

Editor's Note: We recently heard from Jamie Johnston Cagle, and she cleared an obvious "oops" on our part. Jamie is a female riders who loves her 1980 Arctic Cat Trail Cat. Our apologies to Jamie.

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