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Fathers, Sons and Kitty Cats


1973 Arctic Cat Kitty Cat advertisement

I've been doing research for a project I'm working on, during which I came across this advertisement for a 1973 Arctic Cat Kitty Cat ad. And I can't stop thinking about it.

By the time I'd gotten into snowmobiling in the early 1970s with my folks and my uncle, I was already big enough to ride the smaller full-sized sleds we had access to, so a Kitty Cat was never in play for me.

But it's a fact that Kitty Cats have sparked the snowmobiling passion for generations of kids, just as 120s have for the past decade.

Cal riding the Arctic Cat ZR120

My kids started riding on 120s a few years back, and now have graduated to leaf-spring sleds from the 1970s. Very fond memories of them learning to ride the 120s around the yard, packing down every square-inch snow. I'm sure many reading this have similar stories.

I give a big tip of the hat to Arctic Cat for pioneering the "kid" sled when it introduced the original Kitty Cat for the 1972 season. I wonder if the brain trust at the time realized how successful the machine would be, and how important it was to the entire snowmobile industry?

Dec. 1972 Snowmobile Times magazine

By the way, the ad appeared in this December 1972 issue of Snowmobile Times, which is notable because it was published by Michael and Jerry Hoffman, and featured a tech story in every issue writted by John Ramstad, more commonly known as C.J.

Hoffman and C.J. founded Snow Week magazine.

This cover is also notable because of the wickedly-bent ski on the Rupp in the background. I'm guessing a straight T-bone happened that day.

Comments (8):

Brian Manderscheid says:
5/27/2010 8:36:00 PM

I can't say that I remember that ad, of course I was born in May of '73.
Some of this vintage stuff is cool.
M8Stealth says:
5/27/2010 9:38:00 PM

The Kitty Cat ad was my father and I back in the early 70s expect swap in a 634 Panther. Today we have both moved up to matching M8 Nightfires and are loving snowmobiling even more 40 years later.
Jason Currier says:
5/27/2010 10:19:00 PM

I have a few memories as well.../Users/jcurrier/Desktop/PDRM0373.jpg
Stephen Knox says:
6/16/2010 5:45:00 PM

Kitty Cat might not be rare but if you asked any child in the 70s, 80s or 90s from the Snowbelt what they really wanted that winter, I bet most of the time the answer was "I want a Kitty Cat". On our Kitty Cats we were Larry Coltom taking the turns, Davy Thompson punching it on the straights; we were the stars of our own imagination. This sled marks the longest running unchanged sled design from Arctic to date. A test run of these sleds were built for the 1971 season and they tested well. For 1972 Arctic went into full production, and they made a lot of them. Sales did not do as well as expected that year but it remained a steady seller over the next three decades. It is the only successful children's snowmobile from any of the manufacturers. I have to admit that it was a much sadder day in 2000 when this beloved sled was discontinued, making way for the Arctic Cat 120, than when Panther finally was put to rest in 2009. I believe a lot of that has to do with that Kitty Cat gave you one specific mental image as to where Panther had evolved into something very different than what it started out to be. It is kind of like life, Panther went through a life of changes and the end finally came as it always does. But Kitty Cat was immortal and unchanged by time. Maybe some flashy new colors but underneath it was still the timeless and ageless friend that served people that are now 45 and others that just turned five.
John Sandberg says:
6/17/2010 11:15:00 AM

That's an excellent, spot-on piece you wrote, Stephen!
Dennis Kovalesky says:
4/25/2011 7:58:00 PM

Just happened upon this while searching for old Kitty's, as I just finished redoing my 72' that I got when I was 6 years old. It sat for over 30 years and finally decided to refurbish it and make it run again.

I remember this add really well because I am the kid in it. This was shot in Randolph, VT. At the time my grandfather was Arctics Eastern US/Canada distributor and his business was in Randolph. His ties with Arctic got me into this I guess. There was a TV commercial as well, but I have never been able to find anything on that. To this day I still have a framed 24x40 poster of this. I'm 45 now, and it is a fun conversation piece.
Dale Smith says:
8/31/2013 3:47:00 PM

I have a kittycat mfg date Aug 1972 if anyone might be interested it's in good condition I would be interested in what it's worth
Kevin Hoffman says:
1/29/2017 10:43:00 AM

My father was Jerry Hoffman, editor and publisher of Snow Times and founder of Snow-Week. I have many fond memories of races in Ironwood, Rhinelander, and Eagle River each year. I was on at least 40 different manufacturers' sleds by the time I was 15. Great memories of getting rides from Yvonne Duhamel, Duane Eck, Mike Trapp, and Bob Eastman to name a few. Would love to hear from some of the people from those days and just fans in general.

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