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Future Collectible Arctic Cats: Part Two


(10/27/2010)

Here’s Part II on the Arctic Cat sleds from the recent past that I believe will be highly collectible/prized 10-30 years from now.

Of course, with as many enlightened people that posted on Part One of the story with their own great ideas, there might not be any surprises here. So bear with me.

 

Mike Knapp aboard a '93 Arctic Cat Thundercat

The 1993 model year was significant for more than just the debut of the amazing ZR. It was also the year the Thundercat hit the lakes and speed runs, and those two surfaces would never be the same again. With its smooth 900cc triple-triple, Arctic Cat upped the performance ante by a HUGE margin. It had the sound, the name and the cajones to back it up. Jim Dimmerman proved it was the fastest stock sled on the planet when he went 113.984 mph in 1000 feet on the NSSR circuit that winter, and Mike Knapp (above) showed it was king of the drags. Subsequent T-Cats got faster with the migration to the ZR chassis and, later, the 100cc bump in ’98, but this first one seems likely to be the most collectible.

 

1995 Arctic Cat ZRT 600, with Donn Eide

Another triple-triple has a seat at the table of favorites: the 1995 ZRT 600. A reaction to the “baby triple” engine class made popular by the Polaris XLT Special, the ZRT 600 was the answer Cat fans had waited for. Fast, fast-sounding and all-black except for some small decals, the 500-unit pilot build of 1995 quickly moved to the head of the class. When Brian Sturgeon won the F-III class at Eagle River that season, Arctic Cat fans rejoiced in much the same way as when Bob Elsner won in 1979, and Dimmerman in 1984.

 

Tucker Hibbert's 2001 Mod Arctic Cat

When just 25 “production” race sleds are built for a single season, each will undoubtedly be highly-prized. Add to the mix unmatched success on the race circuit, and “highly-prized” quickly turns into highly-valuable. Such is the case with the 25 mod sleds built by T/S Racing (to Arctic Cat’s specifications) for the 2000-01 snocross season. Incorporating much of the same technology used on Tucker Hibbert’s one-off Mod sled that he won the 2000 X Games with, the 25 T/S-built sleds had a narrow tunnel, 14-in. wide track, lowered fuel tank and stamped, channeled tunnel. All ideas that would influence the next sled on this list. Between Hibbert and Blair Morgan, this mod sled never lost a National snocross final in 2001.

2002 ZR 440 Sno Pro (the original Firecat)

Simply put, the 2002 ZR Sno Pro 440 was an amazing, historically significant snowmobile, and the race sled debut of what would become the Firecat. Its 13.5 x 128-in. track completely broke with tradition, as did the laydown engine with both the exhaust and intake on the same side. The three-point, side-mounted engine, over-the-motor-steering, driveshaft-mounted brake disc, front-of-the-hood air induction system and clever multi-tasking of dozens of parts pioneered new ways of engineering, and produced a race ready sled that weighed just 430 lbs. Teething problems took some of the shine off this milestone machine, but it won five of six WSA points titles that season. Roughly 500 were built.

 

2003 Arctic Cat F7 Firecat

2003 Arctic Cat F7 Firecat

The 2003 F7 Firecat was such a rocket that even today it’s evenly matched with all but the most finely-tuned of the current 800s. Ultra-light, ultra-low, ultra-skinny and packing some SERIOUS wood in the 700cc stove, the ’03 was a mind-blower its first season, and quickly earned “legend” status among the drag racing set. Subsequent F7s lost a bit of their edge, due to tweaks to the engine and chassis that addressed warranty issues. Arctic Cat has had many badass, fire-breathing bullets in its 49-year history. The ’03 F7 is among the very best of them.

 

Arctic Cat Yellowstone Special

In the winter of 2000, with an irate National Park Service on the verge of restricting (or even eliminating) snowmobiles from Yellowstone National Park because of the emissions from 2-stroke engines, Arctic Cat took the proactive step to loan two prototype 4-stroke snowmobiles to the NPS as a “peak” into the future of clean snowmobiles. Dubbed the “Yellowstone Special,” these two sleds showed tremendous leadership on the part of Arctic Cat. The effect is said to have made a huge, positive difference in the NPS’ outlook for snowmobiling in Yellowstone. Two years later Arctic Cat would be the first OEM to offer a 4-stroke engine in a modern snowmobile. If either of the first two Yellowstone Specials exists, they’re worth their considerable weight in gold.

 

Dan Ebert on a 2008 Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600

2010 Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600

The last sled on my list is actually the machine that sparked the whole idea of writing this story: the Sno Pro 600. Introduced in 2008, this rider-forward, purpose-built terrain racer was jaw-dropping gorgeous when it was introduced and, in my opinion, even now entering its fourth year. While its unmatched success in snocross and cross-country over the past three seasons give it a high level of collectability, the fact that so few of these machines were built will make it extremely sought-after and valuable in the coming decades. Only a few hundred of these sleds were produced each of the past three seasons, with a large chunk of those going to Scandinavia, making any one of them extremely rare. Might the consumer-friendly Sno Pro 500 enjoy collectability status in the future? Possibly. But the Sno Pro 600 will for sure, and 30 years from now there will be A LOT of us who wished we’d bought one now and held it in storage until the time comes.

Are there some other sleds that I might have missed? Yes. Like the ZR500 and ZR800 Cross-Country models, and perhaps the 2005 ZR900? Maybe the ZL 600 SS, or the 2005-07 Sno Pro racers?



Comments (40):

Tom Rowland says:
10/27/2010 10:41:00 AM

Good list John. Some day I want to get my hands on one of the January-build 1998 ZR 500 or 600s. I doubt if too many of them were built. With the very different new styling, new chassis construction, new engines, etc...they really made an impression on a lot of snowmobilers. I can probably think of some other models too but I gotta get back to work now...
Todd Ulschmid says:
10/27/2010 10:46:00 AM

Nice! You nailed this. : )

Those T/S racers were HOT!

David Forbes says:
10/27/2010 12:04:00 PM

I might also add the 1997 ZR 440/580 or the original ZR 700.
John Zanon says:
10/27/2010 5:50:00 PM

Tom (Rowland)...how can you tell if the 1998 ZR 500's were made in January?
I sold one cheap 3 years ago, because I needed the money for racing snocross and we didn't trail ride much because of racing. The guy who bought it from me wants to sell it. ...John Zanon - Norway, Mich.
D Rock says:
10/27/2010 6:59:00 PM

The 1998 ZR early builds were the only ones to have black bellypans. The 500's Jan. builds were extremely close in speed to the the 600's too.
Joe Rainville says:
10/27/2010 7:22:00 PM

John,

Another cool and thought provoking artical. I have kept my 2002 Z-440 Fan Sno Pro and my 05 440 Liquid SnoPro since buying new through Team Arctic. Although they both had the pants beat off of them, I sort of hope they would be collectable...but they are to me anyway. The 05 was when Cat really nailed the "Firecat 440" racer. It was sickly fast and even turned well. She even took 2nd in RMR-West's Pro-Am class in 2009 against the 600's. I like it almost as much as I like Doug Osters last racer, the 2009 600 CC version... -Joe
John Zanon says:
10/27/2010 7:23:00 PM

Thanks, I'm sure that 1998 ZR 500 I had, had the black belly pan. I called the guy and he doesn't have an owners manual, or didn't know where to look for the manufacturer date. He said he listed it for sale for $950 and has someone interested in it. He said it doesn't run the smoothest, but he did ride it last year...selling because of a divorce!
Thanks again, John
250 Tigger says:
10/27/2010 9:44:00 PM

How about a 1987 1/2 or 1988 650 Wildcat.
Tom Rowland says:
10/28/2010 4:39:00 AM

Some other clues to the January-build 98 ZRs....Moto-cross style handle bars with just a small wrap around the small support bar...hand/thumb warmer switches mounted on the console, not up near the throttle/brake. Possibly a few other things, I have not seen one for a while?
Hepper441 says:
10/28/2010 10:57:00 AM

Great article. Only 1 correction. The 02 steering post was not over the motor. It was mounted traditionally and a long rad. rod ran up to the spindle. The 04 was the first sled to have the rider forward with the steering post over the motor. Oldly enough cat didn't come up with the post over idea. I saw a 03 mod sled that Bicknese's racing had made with the whole concept that Arctic cat went to in 04.
flintstone says:
10/28/2010 5:04:00 PM

firecats were instant collectors sleds....they were the best effort we have seen out of cat yet... they didn't copy anybody when they designed it and it dominated...

I wish I would have ordered a 2004 fighter pilot in red and left it in the crate!!

I heard that a 1986 Honda 250r 3 wheeler just sold for $50,000 that was still in the original crate...

I think the firecat has this kind of collectability in the future.
dann says:
10/28/2010 5:05:00 PM

he was correct saying it had over the motor steering meaning the steering linkage is over the motor on a 2002 ZR 440 sno pro. cats before this all had a lower steering linkage under the motor.

Hepper441 says:
10/29/2010 11:24:00 AM

I suppose it's open to interpretation. I would say no because the steering post was mount in a traditional postion. The lowering of the motor caused to rod to go over the top. The steering and seating position was traditional. Cat 1st true rider forward sled was the 04 not the 02.
The 02 was the first firecat; so definately collectable, I would say the 04 would rank right up there with it due to the rider forward redesign. I like my 02 but I loved my 04.
Oldcats says:
10/29/2010 1:20:00 PM

I would add at the end of the list, 2009 Z1-Turbo LXR LE. Fast, Sexy and ...Fast.
John Sandberg says:
10/29/2010 2:06:00 PM

Going back to day one, the linkages from the steering post to the spindle arms ran UNDER snowmobile engines. Arctic Cat changed that with the 2002 ZR/Firecat race sled, where the linkage from the post to a secondary steering post went OVER the engine, thus allowing the engine to be placed lower in the chassis. With the move to rider forward on the race sled in 2004, came the first over-the-engine-steering-post for Arctic Cat.
Tom Rowland says:
10/29/2010 7:36:00 PM

Maybe the 2000 ZR 600 Blair Morgan Edition will be sought after someday? I am trying to recall, I think it was mostly a graphics package treatment but they were factory issued, created some buzz and sold out quickly. I doubt if too many were produced.
JonnySox says:
10/29/2010 9:49:00 PM

Great article. I always wanted one of those Blair Morgan editions. Closest Ive got to owning that sled is the collector toys. Even got it signed by Blair!
Joe Rainville says:
10/31/2010 9:14:00 PM

Just a little more insite on the 02 440 & 03 Firecats: While they were not as rider forward as the REV in 03, Cat was close. The rider position about in the middle of the ZR vs. todays rider forward chassis. Cat did move the rider up and forward with the Firecat as compared to the ZR, but it was not as radical as the REV's. The 04 and up 440's were really rider forward, and had what I feel is the best ergo's of that era. The floating front suspension arm in 2005 and front air shocks, active ski center distance, and other changes made the 05's handle very, very well. The improvements to the 06 and 07's were minor, with things like the slipper gear, air box and unpainted tunnel. The 2007 factory 440's were probably the rarest of the 02-07's, and already pretty desirable to won...
Ken Pankratz says:
11/2/2010 3:22:00 PM

I have a 1995 ZR 580 that won at eagle river. Takes me back to the days of Brian Sturgeon and Stock cats eating up the ice. For sale if interested.
Set up for 85-95 class 204-782-9766 Ken
snowhunter says:
11/15/2010 7:43:00 AM

This is great ! I already have my collectable in the shop so I can save some money !! lol I'm holding on to my 03' F7 LE Black with the SaberCat graphics
for now. Unless someone makes me an offer I can't refuse.
SnoRacerZR440 says:
12/11/2010 8:24:00 PM

Very cool arcticles, I really enjoyed checking these future collectables out for sure and Id have to say I agree with the picks for the most part. One addition I might consider would be the 1990 Prowler. That was pretty significant since it was the first fully new design under Arctco. But that was sort of covered by the Jag Special though. We owned a 91 Prowler, good sled! Reliable as can be! The Fairing though was either love it or hate it and the suspension was mushy but we had alot of fun on it!

The ZRs though, man I personally think they are going to go down in history as Arctic Cat's most significant model line. They really were (and in my opinion still are) awesome machines. Obviously the Sno Pro 440 versions and the limited edition ones are going to be worth more, but man the 97 440 and 98 ZR 500 that we have are such epic machines, like they have an energy that they give off just sitting in the garage! The suspensions, the chassies, the engines (especially that killer ZR 500, wow!), the looks.....instant classics! They still go damn good in the tight, twisty stuff and in many cases they out handle the newer, higher center of gravity models!

Im also a big Firecat fan as well! They had some really inovative design features and the styling, though it took me a season or two to really get into it, was very cool and unique! Though the REV definatly stole the show in 03, I still think the Firecat was a cooler machine and after the initial teething issues of the 03s they proved to be pretty damn awesome machines performance wise, they defiantly are more intresting in my opinion then the new "F-Series" machines.

Either way, this was my first visit to this site, keep up the good work there are alot of very intresting articles! Ride Green!
Howard Billington says:
5/23/2011 7:23:00 PM

I don't see any of the formula three sleds built by Arctic cat in this list especially the 600 triple built in 1995 for the racers by AC
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Wildcatman says:
1/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

I am lucky to own 1 of 3 Mike Knapp improved stock 700 triple exhaust port motors, I wish I had one of the Wildcats or ZR 700's he won championships with also, I know they will be very collectable some day.
I have the motor in a 89 440 fan Cougar chassis with a small exchanger and a 90 wildcat 650 hood, speed track and custom built pipes that run at 93-9500 RPM. Clutch engagement:6500 RPM and hang on, this old school set up will still outrun most sleds in 1000.
Has ran side by side with a HTG 1000 Polaris all the way across the lake to 118 mph and ran out of gear at full shift at 10,000 rpm because it is set up for 1000 feet.
Love seing people's reaction.
Out ran a 1010 ZR 900 with the same motor in a 92 Wildcat set up for drags.
The guy thought it was a T-cat until I said it was a 700 and he said I was a liar until I opened the hood and freaked out, I told him it was a Knapp 700 motor and said he understands now.
Motor makes 160-170 HP depending on pipes and setup.
Jeff Simon from CPR Racing saw the sled run and asked about it and wanted the cylinders because he knew they were practically hand made because of the extreme porting and rework of the port location and triple exhaust ports.
Mike Knapp is a pioneer and will be known for domination in any sleds he raced or races.
Scott Rose says:
4/18/2013 6:53:00 PM

I currently am in posession of one of the 500 '95 ZRT600's and would like to see it go to a good home where it can be restored and appreciated the way I had intended before the economy fell flat! Anyone interested can e-mail me @ scott.rose2@mohawkcollege.ca. Located in Southern Ontario, Canada. Sled is all there,all original and relatively low miles.
Carl says:
8/9/2013 6:48:00 PM

I have one of the T&S sleds that I got from a friend who was sacard of it. Very awesome sled. But sadly it has had many owners and is quite trashed. Some day I will restore it to its glory. If anybody has one of these sled to id like to talk to them about them. email me southshore34@ymail.com
max garlock says:
12/15/2013 5:51:00 PM

I own a2003,2004 F7s the 04 is a snopro. Can any one tell me how I can soup them up with out costing my right arm.
Chad williamson says:
1/30/2014 12:33:00 AM

I own one of Blair's first race sleds. It a 1998 zr 440 snow pro. I bought it 2001 and have talked to him about it. It's still in great condition with low miles. I know it's very rare but I doubt real valuable. We just bring it out every winter and remind everybody how badass Blair was!
Katharina says:
3/23/2014 12:33:00 AM

I just posted (yesterday) some old ptcuires from Quebec. My daughter went with her French club in grade 9 and hubs chaperoned. They loved the tubing and sledding!
Lani says:
3/24/2014 12:20:00 AM

Hi Elle, wish I could have been there to enjoy that with you. I love seeing you enjoy snow; it was one of our great joys. One of our rteegrs re: NC is that we have very little snow to play in. Hugs,Mama http://zkufohcb.com [url=http://nqzmchkljf.com]nqzmchkljf[/url] [link=http://jzxgnmmfcsw.com]jzxgnmmfcsw[/link]
Alex Williams says:
3/31/2014 10:26:00 AM

im doing my 1999 zr 500 light weight 700 mod this year look for some cheap parts tho need: front bumper, cdi outta 1992 wild cat 700 and head and tail light let me know if you have anything im located in midland ontario just gonna get her ready for the puddle jumps coming up
thanks
Alex Williams says:
3/31/2014 10:26:00 AM

im doing my 1999 zr 500 light weight 700 mod this year look for some cheap parts tho need: front bumper, cdi outta 1992 wild cat 700 and head and tail light let me know if you have anything im located in midland ontario just gonna get her ready for the puddle jumps coming up
thanks
Alex Williams says:
3/31/2014 10:27:00 AM

im doing my 1999 zr 500 light weight 700 mod this year look for some cheap parts tho need: front bumper, cdi outta 1992 wild cat 700 and head and tail light let me know if you have anything im located in midland ontario just gonna get her ready for the puddle jumps coming up
thanks
Kyle says:
9/20/2014 11:28:00 PM

Hate to do this, because it seems kinda cheap, but I've got 2 2002 ZR440 SnoPros for sale if anyone is interested. 1 is mint, and the other was raced for 1/2 a season, and is in pretty good shape.
joe says:
1/16/2015 11:20:00 PM

Cat triples are trash, always have been and their going to the scrap faster than can be written off..!
jimiverson says:
2/11/2015 3:25:00 AM

arctic crap bunch of ****ed hill Billys in a embread town called thief river falls were they make **** that looks like green cow ****
Steve says:
4/3/2015 10:49:00 AM

What would be the approximate value of a 1987.5 arctic cat wildcat pilot build?
Sean P says:
9/30/2015 7:55:00 PM

Nice spelling jimiversion!!! How many teeth do you have ? Two, maybe three ? Your use of the English language is spectacular!! What's your education level? Grade 2? Please write more for us.Smart people like you must drive ski-poos.
Kyle says:
2/22/2016 9:26:00 PM

Yeah. STFU joe and jim.

joe, first off, it's "THEY'RE" not "their". Also, what triples do you like, by the way? Iron tuneel ski don'ts, frail yamahahahas, or always blown up poolaris?

jim, your slaughtering of the English language is one of the best I've seen. First, it's spelled "HILLBILLIES", not "hill Billys". Second, an "AN" goes before a word that starts with an E, not an "a". Third, it's spelled "INBRED" not "embread". But I suppose when your wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and grandma are all the same woman, you are bound to make spelling mistakes, am I right? See ya out there doughnut puncher!

P.S. Sorry about this John. I owe ya one.
john jendro says:
11/26/2016 8:43:00 PM

what is a pilot sled? I have two of the 98 zr500 and both black belly pans and the vin is 1/97. any info on this would be nice thanks

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