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Mash-Up Masterpiece: The Cat Kid's Custom Arctic Cat ZRThundercat


Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson (aka "The Cat Kid") builds some truly wonderful custom Arctic Cat snowmobiles.

This ZRT/T-Cat mash-up featuring a bunch of Thundercat, ZR and performance goodies is a perfect example of his work.

Doug's work has been featured here before when we took a look at this custom 1987 El Tigre. And we'll see more of his work this off-season when I post another story on his Pink Lady F8 Twin Spar.


Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug has a long history of building custom Arctic Cat speed demons. He was one of a group of hardcore speed run guys who regularily faced-off in the Willmar, Minn., area in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That group included guys like Brian Nelson (yes, THAT Brian Nelson), Dale Nelson, Hubert Fixsen, Larry Miller, Bruce Vruwink and many others.

Doug can do more than just build fast sleds though: he has an aesthetic for grafting components that add riding functionality and tasteful style points. And his sleds are CLEAN, with delicious attention to detail.

And like most good straightline speedsters, Doug can be just a wee-bit sneaky with his stuff. As in, slapping ZRT 600 hood decals on a sled powered by a 900cc Suzuki Thundercat triple. Nope, didn't see that one coming (as Doug destroys the ego of another unsuspecting lake racer)!

Let's let Doug tell the story:


My first love will all ways be the el tigre, but my close second is the Arctic Cat triples. Last spring some of my cronies back in Minnesota got me all fired up on triple-cylinder sleds after I traded my Corvette for a 99 Thundercat. Problem was, I later traded the T-Cat for a John Deere riding lawn mower. D’oh!

The bug was still in me so I found a 1998 Zrt 800 north of Alexandria Minn., and so the project began.

I wanted a 1998 ZRT due to the many upgrades Cat gave it that year: open ignition, handlebar and thumb warmer switches mounted on the handlebars, etc...

It wasn’t until I got the sled home that I realized it was in worse shape than I originally thought. Things were so rusted together I think I used at least I can of PB Blaster.

The situation got even worse when I realized that the bulk head was pretty much toast.

A good friend (and Arctic Cat collector) John Archer had a perfect tunnel and bulk head and he truly saved the day for me!

I really like to order and look for parts for these older sleds, however I ran into another bad situation: there are no decals left in Arctic’s parts!!!

Hmm... what to do? Luckily I had 1997 ZRT 600 hood decals – and for both sides! But time and a few house moves had taken there toll on them so I searched for decals in other dealers’ inventory with the help of Spicer Sports in Spicer, Minn. They had one decal and then found additional decals in Maine, Wisconsin and Minnesota. I was very fortunate that the tunnel I got from Archer already had the  ‘97 600 decals on them and I was able to remove one of them.

I'm part of of a snowmobile club here in Wisconsin and a fellow member, Ronnie  Duncan (aka Ron's Signs & Designs) was able to reproduce and make me a complete set. Thanks Ron!!!

I wanted to make a sled that looked like something that would have been done at the factory as a special build. There was never a green triple until 1999 and with the then-new body style, so I decided to make a Green 1997 triple with a 900 Thundercat motor. Yes, a 900 Thundercat motor (because I wanted the biggest and baddest)!

I completely stripped the sled and had everything powder coated at Powders Plus in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

I sanded the hood and my good friend Rod "The god" Piechuch painted my hood.

I used the seat from a 1997 ZR 580, handlebars from a 1999 ZR 440. I installed a slide lube system, Digitron, 41mm Mikuni flatslide pro series carbs and 130 Black Magic MPH Speedometer.

There are about 350 hours or better in this project and I’m already on record saying it’s the last project of this magnitude that I have in me. But I’ve said that before so who knows what the future will bring.


Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Doug Hanson's custom Arctic Cat ZRT 600

Beautiful work Doug! Sorry to have blown your cover though.

If anyone gets a chance to see this beauty in action, pay no attention to the decals on the hood.

Thanks for reading.

Comments (10):

Oldcrow says:
5/16/2017 10:31:00 AM

Nice sled!! I like those colors.

I have a 97 ZR 580 EFI I pulled out of the woods for a project sled.
Dad had one back in the day.
It spits and sputters but hope to give it a complete rebuild when I get time to give it proper attention it requires
Auggie says:
5/16/2017 12:07:00 PM

Yup, I made one like that but started with a 2000 ZRT 800.
Eric says:
5/16/2017 1:38:00 PM

You weren't kidding when you said it was CLEAN! Great looking sled.
Sparky says:
5/16/2017 1:55:00 PM

Every sled I've seen Doug do is the same perfect condition when he's done. Nice job boss !!
catman says:
5/16/2017 2:05:00 PM

Pretty sweet, but a 97 ZR580 is sweeter!
Tom says:
5/16/2017 5:47:00 PM

Straight up-amazing, how does it ride on the trails ?
Comment on the suspension mods ?
Tom Rowland says:
5/17/2017 12:41:00 PM

Looks fantastic Doug!
Pat says:
5/20/2017 9:26:00 PM

can anyone confirm if this is the same guy that tried to setup a triple-only backyard race in willmar [EDITED by Mod]? Nice sled though, sure it's fast!!
Little Kandi Mechanic says:
5/20/2017 9:44:00 PM

Pat you have the story wrong. Race was all organized and set up by local sledders (all 3 cylinder guys) [EDITED by Mod]. AS Steve Decker used to say, "talk is cheap but takes money to buy whiskey!"
John Sandberg says:
5/22/2017 8:23:00 AM

This story is about a cool sled and the guy who built it. It's not a place for attacks and innuendo. Thanks.

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