The snowmobile history is a fascinating matter for many people. In the Province of Quebec, everyone who is interested in the snowmobile knows Joseph-Armand Bombardier’s story and his desire to master winter. His ingenuity and perseverance created a new industry.
Even if the invention of snowmobile is often said to be M. Bombardier’s, the truth of the matter is that it was already existing before 1959. Indeed, many inventors or ingenious handymen everywhere in the Province and outside Quebec had produced some machines that can be called snowmobiles.
Polaris Snow-Traveler 1956
As soon as 1956, some companies were already manufacturing snowmobiles, such as Polaris who put on the market that year the Sno-Cat, which became the year after the Sno-Traveler.
Even if Bombardier is not the first creator of the snowmobile, at least he is the first one who made a commercial success out of it and he is the first who put in place the basis of the snowmobile industry. So, it is in 1959 that the first Ski-Doo was manufactured. That year, the production was low: 6 units, 4 of which were identified as the 1960 prototypes.
At the end of 1959, Bombardier sends a letter to all his dealers offering the Ski-Doo Skooter for winter 1960. He has produced 225 units of this sled equipped with a 7 hp 4-stroke engine and all of them have been sold. Instantaneous success!
For winter 1961, the Ski-Doo snowmobile is improved. Indeed, there is a front light. The button-type accelerator is replaced by a folding lever system. Moreover, the coil springs of the skis are replaced by a leaf spring system. Finally, 2 engines are available: a 7 hp 4-stroke engine and a 8 hp 2-stroke engine. Interesting notice, the wooden skis are replaced during manufacturing by metal skis. 729 units of this 1961 Ski-Doo edition were on the market..
A year later, Bombardier offers 3 Ski-Doo snowmobile models. The total production will be 2 103 units in 1962 and 5 263 units in 1963. It is the beginning of a new hobby that will soon become a passion for thousands of fans. Today, the snowmobile industry generates more than 1 billion $ in benefits in the Province of Quebec only.
Our next article will dwell on the years 1963 to 1965. We invite you to follow these serial articles on the snowmobile history.
Référence (French book) : Histoire de la Motoneige, Pierre Pellerin, Les Éditions de l’Homme
Special collaboration: Pierre Pellerin