Well this isn’t a startling revelation – a good place to find vintage snowmobiles is at a snowmobile show. We’ve profiled vintage sleds from the Edmonton Snowmobile Show in the past, however, this year I thought we would feature a few old classic machines from the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Show held back in November.
Here’s a classic snowmobile — a Roll-O-Flex 440 — that, of course, has strong Saskatchewan roots.
Roll-O-Flex was based in Regina, Saskatchewan, and only produced machines for a short period of time in the 1970’s. The company was established in 1970 and it was all wrapped up by the mid-seventies.
Much of the machine incorporated Yamaha technology and parts at the time — including engines and braking systems.
Roll-O-Flex ran on their own patented “Superflexion” suspension system incorporating rubber wheels and parallel rail technology – leading edge in the day. A Roll-O-Flex typically sold for the bare bone price of $1200 to $1500 in the 1970’s.
One blogger also traced the history of the Roll-O-Flex back to another Saskatchewan snowmobile line called the Smith-Roles snowmobile. He writes, “Most snowmobile history books indicate that Smith-Roles rebranded about 150-180 Roll-o-Flex snowmobiles in the early seventies and put a different hood on them. They were distributed out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and sold mainly in the prairies of Canada and Minot, ND in the U.S.A.”
He further tells about trying to track down a Smith-Roles machine, “Further discussion with the man led us to the history of him working at Smith-Roles and being assigned to the snow-machine project in 1970. He had a wealth of knowledge and told me that they tried their hand at making their own sled but once they got about a year or two into it they needed some money to keep the project going. That is when and why they ordered 125 sleds from Roll-o-Flex to get some cash flow. He said they did make a second smaller order as well which seems to be about what most people agree was the final number for Smith-Roles (180ish?). They made a plywood mold to have their own unique fiberglass hood but basically they were Roll-o-Flex sleds. The original project never worked out and the original prototypes eventually went home with the guys on the project team.”
He says he found such a machine, “It had a funny tin hood and a custom made steel frame. It uses a 399 JLO engine. Everything on this sled except the track, skis, engine and handlebars were made at Smith-Roles in Saskatoon by a 4-man team of guys who had little experience in the snow machine industry.”
Roll-O-Flex and/or Smith-Roles — two long forgotten names in the snowmobile industry, but they are icon names that continue to excite vintage snowmobile collectors to this day.
Do you have a vintage sled restoration? Tell us about it! We would love to share your old sled story.