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HomeFeaturesA 1987 El Tigre Custom from The Cat Kid (aka Doug Hanson)

A 1987 El Tigre Custom from The Cat Kid (aka Doug Hanson)

In Doug’s words:

I’ve had a passion for Arctic Cat el tigres since I was in Junior High (which was quite some time ago).

In the fall of 1981 I purchased a 1975 Suzuki Fury which had a Kohler k440 2RS motor from a Mercury Sno-Twister. This sled had in fact been set up by legendary Team Arctic engineer/mechanic Hubert Fixsen, and it hauled ass!

In the summer of 1982 I turned it into a 1975 el tigre with 1977 decals. A couple years later I sold this sled in order to purchase a 1981 6000 tiger from Brian Nelson, back when he owned Nelson Marine. It had Larry Coltom/HPE porting, pipe, 44 Mikuni’s and it REALLY hauled ass. So much so that I got the nickname “The Cat Kid” because I’d beat up all of the Indy 600’s on Green Lake in Spicer, Minn., in the winter of 1985. This is a name that has stuck with me since.

In 1986 I purchased my first new sled: a 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre 6000 from Nelson. In the spring of 1988 I went to work for Brian’s dad Dale at the truck dealership, which opened up a door to a whole new world of Arctic Cat people and performance. I was able to go to Arctic Cat/West Yellowstone as well as become good friends with Steve Thorsen & Dean Schwarzwalter at T/S Racing. I was able to see some of the ZR prototypes that Brian, Larry Miller and Hubert built, as well as seeing many T/S Racing projects.

I learned a lot from those guys!


Doug Hanson's custom '81 Arctic Cat el tigre

Fast forward to the summer of 2007, when I got the vintage bug and built a couple 1981 tigers, one stock and one custom (above). After finishing those projects I wanted to do a custom AFS tiger, but in February of 2009 my son and I were involved in a car crash which derailed those plans.


Doug and Trevin Hanson

After spending time at the Mayo clinic life got a bit more complicated when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Thanks to the outstanding comfort of the Arctic Cat Twin Spar Chassis, I’ve been able to continue riding along with my son, Trevin.

Last July the bug returned… I wanted to revisit doing another custom Cat.

On a Friday night I was having a beer on my deck and surfing the Web when I spotted a 1987 el tigre 6000 that was owned by a guy in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The closer I looked I noticed what looked like MY 1987 6000 that I’d originally purchased new!

I contacted the gentlemen and found out that it was indeed my old sled. I tried to buy it but unfortunately he wouldn’t sell.

Knowing of my predicament, my good friend Mark Peterson told me of a customer of his that had a 1988 5000 el tigre and a ‘87 6000 that we could have for free. We picked both up and were happy to see 1990 ext special fox shocks as well as a rear fuel tank on the ‘88 5000!


Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

I already had a lot of tiger parts so I proceeded on the custom restoration.


Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

I did some trading with Tom Rowland for a NOS 1988 hood as well as some great deals on parts (thanks Tom!).


Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

I added a Wilwood hydro brake system; 9-tooth drivers; 1991 Wildcat front end & gauges; Sno Pro handlebars with hi/low switches; roller secondary clutch; ZR plastic skis; FOX shocks and a few other goodies.


Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

The engine is the 11-port 530cc version, which was the fast one.

Finding a good seat was the hardest thing for me. The seat is good, but not 100%.

I have well over 300 hours in the sled, which is 99% done with only a few details remaining.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted the sled to be prior to starting, but I also made changes along the way.


Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

Doug Hanson's custom 1987 Arctic Cat el tigre AFS

I would tell you how much I have in, but my wife would kill me. I’ll say this though: I originally paid 4k for my new ‘87 tiger when I bought it from Nelson, and I think I’m damn close to that with this custom project. Ouch!

I live in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and am planning to do the SHOF Ride with the Champs and some other vintage rides so that I can show it off.

With my health I don’t know if this will be my last sled, but I wouldn’t mind doing a Wildcat or ZR700 sometime down the road. Only time will tell.

I like to spend time with Trevin, who is as much of a Cat fan as me. Below is the two of us at Arctic Cat from a couple years ago.

Doug and Trevin Hanson

Thanks for reading.

– Doug Hanson



  1. Nice work Doug! I hope to some day to go the SHOF ride after I retire, Kind of a long ride from northern Maine though! Hopefully I will get a chance to meet you and possibly beg for a ride on this beaut! We won’t say a word about the investment to the bookkeeper !!

  2. Its good to see People sharing the joys of snowmobiles and riding them with the next generation of sleders. keep it up

  3. Doug,
    Really cool story. Sweet craftsmanship. Great that you can spend time with your son like that. That is time spent that you will both never regret. I know a guy that that is a huge AI fan that works in Fort Dodge……Thank you for sharing your story!

  4. I am assuming Doug still has this sled?? It was on craig’s list for sale through out the winter. Very nice restore.

  5. Absolutely Awesome! That is one sweet looking Tiger Six and a great story too. I wonder if the heads are off a 6000 or an EXT? Either way, it’s an epic looking project! Josh

  6. The heads are 89 6000 heads which were the only year with 530 and arctic cat on them for the 6000. Greg every thing is for sale at the right price. I am in the process of doing a custom f-8 right now. Thank you John for doing the article as it was a great honor for me!!!!!!

  7. Doug,
    Wonderful restore job. Its a great looking sled. You sure know your vintage sleds. My son and I raced for 7yrs for A/C the best sleds out there. If your get back to your home town look me up . It would be nice to trade store’s. Its a great thing to share a passion with your family. Best wishes , take care of your self. Tim Simenson #179

  8. I have fond memories watching Doug, in the 80’s, put these sleds together, horse trade to get better parts, etc. Dough is an artist. He is also blessed with the natural ability to figure out what performance parts work and avoids hype. I wasn’t surprised when he caught the vintage bug and sought out the classic rides of our youth! I’m also pleased he’s shared this passion, and the knowledge he’s acquired, with his children. Too bad more kids don’t have a dad like Doug!

  9. Doug, pretty cool El Tigre 6000. I had one back in the day and would love to have another some day. Picked up a 86′ a few years ago and need to restore that. My wife is an avid snowmobiler and as also diagnosed with MS the week before Christmas this winter. We are quickly learning of the struggles people with MS face and are completely amazed how much the snowmobile community supports those fighting it. There are a lot of incredible people in the snowmobiling community. Steve, Dean & Tom are just a few. Glad to see you and your son are able to spend the time together and wish you and your family the best.

  10. Doug
    Things never change….you and your snowmobiles, amazing what you do with them! We always enjoyed our days as our neighbor on Eagle Lake, stop in sometime.
    It looks like you are having as much fun as ever Doug. Now that you have Trevor as your right hand man, maybe he will teach you some stuff about those snowmobiles!
    Don and Faye Fluegge

  11. “arctic cat hanson” used to put on backyard races every sunday at point lake in willmar mn. dad and i would bring hopped up yamahas to the drag strip every sunday…same results week after week year after year…we always got beat! it was getting to be a big deal, people would show up from all over the state…but he moved out of state and things were never the same…no more sunday racing and most sleds did not even have studs any longer… if he would move back it would be back to old times..i would get my sled ready and so would 20 other guys…and point lake performance would be back up and running!!! get your ass back here lil buddy…i sure miss you!

  12. That is one heck of a restoration. I like where you located the reservoirs for the front fox shocks. The whole sled is detailed to the max. That is one heck of an El Tigre’ special !!

  13. Hey Doug
    Nice Forum–enjoyed your stories. Really have enjoyed my F6–you know the one you found for me. I was just thinking about Ash River back in 2004. Remember when you-with your 1000, me with my 700, Eischens with his 1000, Gratz with his 900, the Larson boys (Steve with his 900 & Dan with his F7), and Loge with his 800 Skidoo (How did that machine get with) lined up? The ’03 F7’s cleaned up that day—Where were you?—oh thats right you were the Flag man.

  14. Tito, The original 530 3-x were drawn up by Glen Follet at HPE. I know that Tim Berg at black magic did some later too. I got a bunch from Steve Thoresen back in the day. Pistons are the hardest thing to find without changing pins on stk 72mm ones. Thanks for all the nice comments!!!

  15. Doug, I never imagined those 2 sleds I saw in the trailer in my yard would end up looking like this !! I for one am thrilled that you decided to move to Wisconsin. Your a class act and a great friend, I can’t wait for our next adventure.

  16. You have a great Eye Doug for building top notch custom Kittys. Take care and I hope Your health gets better!

  17. Beautiful Job. So it has an ’88 hood and seat but the frame is an ’87?
    Confusing to see it as an ’88 sled but the article says ’87. I have my original 1988 ElTigre’ 6000 sitting in my garage that I purchased in December of 1988. Love the sled and had tons of fun times on it.

  18. I like what u did with that sled ithink it is the nicest sled i ever seen. thank you for showing it. i bought an 87 eltigre 5000 and a all together 79 cross country eltigre yesterday in a scrap yard in herkimer ny. i am going to try to restore both sleds. maybe u could give me some information on finding parts, decals, etc. thank you. keep on showing those beautiful CATS

  19. nice work , this el tigre cylinders are the limited 87-88 year part number 3003-591 correct or are these a ported version with higher compression, in any case lots of track spin and fun too carve some corners .

  20. great job on the tiger! did a 1988 wildcat last year, just bought a 1988 6000,looking to start on that. looking for some advice.. if you could contact me that would be great! thanks Jason 612-919-1544 my cell

  21. North Carolina native and cosraonitt Doug Marlette died in a single-car accident July 10 in Mississippi at the age of 57, according to news agencies. An Oklahoma resident, he had been employed by the Tulsa World newspaper. He is best known for his syndicated strip, Kudzu. He had been visiting Mississippi to assist a high-school performance group putting on a musical version of the strip. He earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his editorial cartoons while working in Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga. He began his career in 1972 at the Charlotte Observer. He launched Kudzu in 1981. He is survived by his wife, Melinda, and adult son, Jackson.


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