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Those who have followed ArcticInsider have probably seen this unit featured before, or you may have even seen it in the pages of Arctic Cat’s 50th Anniversary book. If you haven’t seen it, what you are looking at is one of the pre-cursors to the UTV as we know it.

Owned by Thomas Sno Sports (TSS) in Ogilvie, Minnesota, this 1963 Arctic Cat Model 1000 4×4 is one of the first prototypes the factory built dipping it’s toes in the off-road market.

On a recent visit to TSS, owner Tom Rowland shared a photo with me that I think is incredibly cool! Tom had recently acquired the photo of the Model 1000 in its earliest years at a hunting camp near Roseau, MN. The photo was taken by Edgar Hetteen. (Founder of Arctic Cat)

Tom recently received this photo from Gary Susten whose dad is pictured. It was taken by Edgar Hetteen on November 3, 1963. (Pictured R-L) Hjalmer Sunsten (Gary’s dad), Roy Billberg, Robert Johnson, Paul Grand, Ed Sunsten and standing in front is Ronald Hetteen. I’d like to hear the hunting, or trapping story, behind the Bobcat.

TSS has an incredible Arctic Cat collection at their dealership. If you can’t visit in person, check out their virtual museum on the Thomas Sno Sports website. This Model 1000, and others in the Rowland collection, will be on display at the 60 Years of Arctic Cat Collectors show in Thief River Falls, MN, July 15-16, 2022.

In Tom’s words, here is a rundown on this really unique off-road vehicle.  

We purchased this in approximately 1994 from a man in East Grand Forks, North Dakota. He had bought it out of a grove in western ND a few years prior. The original engine was missing but a similar-to-original, 10hp Kohler, was with the machine when we bought it. 

Not too many days after getting it home, we had it running and operating. It was our main deer camp “ATV” until the late 1990s and still remains very capable off-road.  

Tom shared this photo of the Model 1000 loaded in the back of his Chevy’s 8ft bed at his hunting camp in 1994. Remember when the world didn’t NEED 4wd and crew cab trucks? I liked those days.

In the late 90’s, we had it on display at a Hay Days event and ran into Edgar Hetteen (Founder of Arctic Cat). Edgar was at the popular snowmobile event promoting his then-new book, Breaking Trails. He was generous enough to stop by and discuss the Model 1000 with us and informed us, this was the very first Model 1000 they made, and it has many differences from the production model.

Our Model 1000 does not have the belly mounted fuel tank or the flat front grille. Our final drives are mounted at an angle, and not straight up-and-down like the production versions.  

The Arctic Enterprises ID tag reads: SERIAL: 63-1001 MODEL: X. We’ve left the exterior of the Model 1000 alone and have preserved it as we originally found it.

I appreciate pristine restorations, but there’s something about original paint and bodywork that have withstood the test of time – proudly displaying all their scrapes, dents, scratches and faded paint that truly excites me. The stories that “patina” could tell are remarkable and spark my imagination.

Many, many members or our family have used this unique 4wd over the years, including our grandchildren now. We can’t think of a better way to introduce them to the great experiences that off-road riding and exploration can provide. And I’m grateful for Edgar’s forward thinking in the early 1960’s.

This photo was shared with me from Eric Bergstrom, who not only works at TSS, but is extended family of the Rowlands. Pictured are Eric’s kids, Pete and Roxie Bergstrom, operating the Model 1000 at the White Pine Logging Show in 2021. (This photo is also evidence that Pete is doing his job as one of ArcticInsider’s premier ambassadors rocking that green AI hat!) 


    • It actually goes through all kinds of things, really well. It’s sort of like driving a tractor, in that you just set the throttle, and put it in gear with the hand clutch. It could use a little tighter turning radius sometimes, when in the woods… but considering that it’s hand-built from nothing more than an idea, I think that can be forgiven.

      On that note, it’s also super cool that the front wheels themselves don’t turn side-to-side… it’s the frame itself that articulates in the middle. This is one reason for the lack of sharp turning ability, but also makes it really unique, and novel to drive.

      The other major cool factor to this, is that you know you’re sitting on/walking around/riding a machine that was hand built, tested and used by Edgar himself. Obviously, he had a hand in designing and building plenty of early Arctic Cat’s, but in my own mind, this one is overflowing with that history. It’s a fascinating rig, in my opinion, and always seems to put a smile on the face of whoever’s driving it!

  1. Very cool! Can anyone tell me how they came about using a Polar Bear with Arctic Cat graphic? Interested in why a Polar Bear was used. Doesn’t really go with the Arctic Cat. I really like that first picture with the Bobcat on the front. Now that’s a Cat! Great info. Thanks.

    • When Edgar left Polaris in Roseau he started Polar Manufacturing in Thief River Falls. It then became Arctic Enterprises shortly after. Polar Manufacturing did not just make Arctic Cat vehicles, but other items as well.

    • I once thought so too TP… but the older I get, the more the phrase,”they’re only original once,” rings true to me. I now fall completely on the leave-it-be side of the fence… though I do agree that it would be super cool to see one all painted up. I’ve seen pictures of a restored one online. I’m sure plenty of people more knowledgeable than myself know who owns that one….

      • I guess I like the fully restored look. It is a great piece of Cat history and certainly shows the durability of the products of that time. Either way it is quite the treasure for its owner. May it see more miles with more smiles!

  2. Thank you for the added inside info Eric! I appreciate seeing that here!!

    Ken – Great question…one Im glad you asked and Im even happier to see Catguy2 give you a proper answer.

    To Ken or anyone else interested in the Arctic Cat brand, if you don’t have them already, there is a ton of great info in the Legend and 50th books. Both of which are available on the Thomas Sno Sports website.

    • Thanks Catguy2 for the info. I kind of know what happened when Edgar left Polaris but was interested in any history, knowledge or thoughts from Edgar how he came up with those names.

      I have those two books Kale but they are still wrapped in the original plastic. Wanted to keep them wrapped even though I always wanted to read what’s inside. I will be opening them now. I can buy another set too. Thanks.


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