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The Hunt for 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles


(6/29/2015)

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

Passion for the Arctic Cats that (ahem) never were.

By Adam Leubner

 

1982 Arctic Cat...Who would have thought that the temporary demise of a great company would provide so much drive for a handful of collectors!? When Arctic Enterprises ended operation, so did any real production of 1982 models.

But as we would later learn, there were some pre-production 1982 models that did make their way out of the factory before the doors shut on that company's history.

How many?

Nobody seems to know for sure. But the more people dig, the more such machines turn up.

How many will eventually appear, we can only guess.

Just when you think all the rare sleds and the good finds are gone… one surfaces again. Through luck, hard work, dedication or whatever you call it, there is one thing for certain: those sought-after sleds truly are still out there.

My passion for the 1982 Arctic Cats began some time ago.

It was 2007 when it happened. I was asked to ride along with the infamous friend “John Deere Joe” Rainville to the Snowmobile Hall of Fame show in St. Germain, Wisconsin but on one condition: That I go with him to Thomas Sno Sports to look at this “prototype” IFS cat he just bought.

This was when my understanding of the classification of “rare” was clarified, before this trip I thought Arctic Cat Sno Pro’s and King Kats were rare. What I learned was that “rarity” is a matter of perception.

Tom’s incredible collection of Cat’s consists of many sleds that didn’t exist, at least according to the history books of that time. I learned that history books don't always contain the complete history.

The conversations and experience of that day fueled a fire inside. And ever since that day, I have been obsessed with learning more about the preproduction and prototype cats.

As luck would have it, while at the Round Up show/swap in St Germain the next day, we parked next to a gentleman selling an all-aluminum, direct-drive Arctic Cat chassis. Not knowing exactly what it was (but knowing it was something special), I bought it.

It would take four years of searching before I found out exactly what that chassis meant in the history of Arctic Cat (there will be a story on this sled in the future).

During that time all I had found in my cross-country travels was a couple hoods that were built for the 1982 sleds. I wanted a complete sled so bad, but I knew I had to be patient and let the networking and continuous searching possibly pay off. 

Fast forward to March 2014: What started as a quick text message from a friend soon snowballed into a 8-month adventure of tripping over 1982 Arctic Cat’s, with four sleds following me home while I stayed hot on the trail of more. 

Let me make myself clear: I have made it my personal objective to uncover as many artifacts that represent what Cat had up their sleeves for the years they “went fishing”. 

I am not alone as the recent success was a result of the input from a few friends, both old and new. Everything from, “Hey, there are two '82s on VintageSleds.com,” to “Here's the name of an old lead, why don’t you take a stab at bring the sled home,” and even, “I have this hood and dash here that doesn’t look familiar to me, if you haul something for me you can have them.”

I certainly love the hunt, and I won’t stop here. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime here are some pictures:

 

The two Pumas that I picked up off of the VS classifieds (March 2014):

Sled #1:

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

 

Sled #2

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

A few notes about them:

- Direct Drive

- One has prototype rubber track, the other a production 2/3 cleated track

- Hoods similar to that of all the other Puma’s found at the time

- Sources say that the Puma was to come with a Free Air, but all have been located with fan-cooled engines.

- Prototype (hand cut) windshields

- Very few production parts are used on these sleds.

- Different decals between the sleds

 

Next, another 1982 Arctic Cat Puma. 

As found in hiding:

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

After it’s bath:

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

This is a special one to say the least.  Of the 4 1982 Puma’s recently accounted for, this one is different on many accounts.

A few Notes:

- Jackshaft (All of the other Puma’s recently accounted for are direct drive)

- Overall hood design/Offset headlight

- Seat design (less of a plateau in the back hump)

- Wrap around front bumper

 

ArcticInsider photo of 1982 Arctic Cat snowmobiles

I stole this picture from Arctic Insider years ago. Is it the same sled?  If not, there are more still out there!

 

Next, a 1982 Arctic Cat Cougar. 

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

It's first daylight in a couple decades...

 

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

...and here after a bath.

This one found me, when a collector in Minnesota called me last June. It took three months to strike a deal. This sled has been speculated to have been the 1981 Engineering test sled in its original camouflage. The Cougar was intended to be a very bright and colorful sled, but they dressed them in traditional colors to avoid any unwanted attention during testing in West Yellowstone in November 1981.

I was excited enough to drag these home that I wanted to share them with a quick story. I kept waiting to find them all but after some time I have realized that this search is far from over, so below are my finds of the year for 2014:

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

Adam Leubner's 1982 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

A huge Thank You goes out to Tom Rowland, as well as the other passionate Arctic Cat collectors that I have met along the way. And an even larger thank you goes out to a friend at Arctic Cat who has helped with information and details about the 1982 models.

I'll share more stories in the future.

Thanks for reading.

-Adam

 

More reading here on ArcticInsider.com about the 1982 Arctic Cats:

HERE

HERE for the original "CPC Revisited" Series

HERE for Vintage Road Trip (including CPC and a '82 uncovering)



Comments (7):

Paul Nadeau says:
6/29/2015 6:41:00 PM

Thank you for sharing Adam, what a great story, can't wait to read the next one, good luck in your hunt for 82's
jeff says:
6/30/2015 7:08:00 AM

great story, sounds like a lot of fun. there never seems to be any photos of any 82 pre-production Trail cats. One has to wonder was this model going to be dropped for 82?
Scott G says:
6/30/2015 12:53:00 PM

Adam
It was funny when you advertised on vintage sleds looking for an 81 Eltigre seat using that first daylight 82 cougar picture. I said I do not have a seat avaialable but would you be interested in selling that sled. I wonder how many people noticed what it was???
Ted Loveland says:
7/1/2015 4:46:00 PM

Great story Adam. You and Joe are quickly becoming quite the pair of accomplished writers! Can't wait to see some of these sleds in person. Planning on any area shows in the future?
Adam says:
7/2/2015 6:47:00 AM

Thanks for the comments guys, always great to share my stories.

Paul, I may have an update sooner rather than later.

Jeff, I have heard no indications of Cat working on a trail cat for 82.

Scott, Very few know what these sleds are/were. But most are incredibly interested in hearing the history.

Ted, Thank you for the compliment. I am not aware of any shows in Western New York until September with Sleds of Stafford. Are there any sooner?

And thank you to John and AI for providing such a great site to share this story.

-Adam
Tom Rowland says:
7/2/2015 7:53:00 PM

Great story Adam! Awesome collection you are building, am eager to see them in person.
Glen Mallory says:
7/8/2015 1:52:00 PM

How many Puma protos did they make? They seem to pop up the most of any of the lost year? That would make sense since it was supposed to be the "hook sled" to get new bargain riders interested. Nice catch on the 275 FA twin. As long as you took care of that engine, it took care of you. No rocket ship but I had one in a Jag that ran for ages.

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