Update 7/28/22: About this time last year, I shared the story of the very first Arctic Cat which was saved from the crusher, and the only snowmobile ever to be shown at both the 50th Anniversary events at Polaris and Arctic Cat. After seeing the Model 100-XX brought by the Gottschalk family to display at the 60th Homecoming Collectors show, I thought I’d update the original from Greg Marier with a few more photos and captions. – Kale
“SNOWMOBILING IS JUST SHY OF A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. FROM THE FIRST TIME YOU GET ON A SNOWMOBILE, WINTER WILL HOLD NO TERROR FOR YOU.” – Edgar Hetteen, 1959
Over Memorial Day weekend, friend, and fellow snowmobile officianado, Greg Marier, visited the Snowmobile Hall of Fame (SHOF) for the Classic Sled Round-Up. He shared a funny story on his Facepage regarding the very first Arctic Cat, which is currently displayed at the SHOF.
I had heard this story at the Arctic Cat 50th event, but the memory had faded away. I was happy to see Greg share the backstory again, as it gave me a good chuckle and Im assuming it will put a smile on your face and place a bit of Arctic Cat history knowledge in your back pocket. If youve never visited the SHOF in St. Germain, Wisconsin, please put this on your bucket list. The displays there are incredible!
In 1999, the snowmobile in Greg’s photos were rusted and discarded, and discovered at the Jon and Jared Foss Salvage Yard in Greenbush, MN by two Roseau, MN brothers, Warren and Allen Lee, who were looking for a used snowmobile bumper. Warren found it sitting atop two scrap-yard cars and then asked his brother Allen to check out what he thought to be an early Polaris prototype, since it had so many Polaris L-55 parts.
Allen purchased it from the salvage yard for $80, and went on to restore it. He eventually sold it to Kevin Lehse from Fairhaven, MN and it was exhibited as a 1962 Polaris prototype at the 50th Polaris Anniversary event.
While viewing this snowmobile at the event, Edgar Hetteen (Instrumental founder of Polaris and later Arctic Cat) asked who was bold enough to display an Arctic Cat at a Polaris event?
Edgar verified it was the very first Polar Mfg prototype built, which would become known as Arctic Cat. More significantly, this was the very first front-engine design, Sport USA Snowmobile Design
Edgar Hetteen’s Polar prototype had been built 1-2yrs ahead of Polaris front-engine designed models utilizing an 8hp Kohler engine.
Upon Edgar’s verification, he autographed the underside of the seat.
After the Polaris 50th event, Kevin Lehse gave the snowmobile its proper Polar graphics and has become known as the 1962 Polar Mfg. Company Model: 100-XX prototype.