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HomeFeaturesThe Other Return-of-the-el Tigre 6000

The Other Return-of-the-el Tigre 6000

 1985 Arctic Cat el Tigre 6000 owned by Tom Rowland, photo by

The 2014 Arctic Cat el Tigre 6000 is noteworthy for many reasons, including the new Arctic Cat-built DSI 2-stroke engine coupled with the return of its hallowed name to the lineup.

Interestingly, it’s not the first time that “el Tigre 6000” came back to the litter sporting new technology.

The first time was in 1985, when the el Tigre 6000 heralded Arctic Cat’s first foray into independent front suspension after arising from the ashes of Arctic Enterprises.

Arctco, Inc., had produced the first Arctic Cat 6000 for 1984, although it was essentially identical to the last leaf-sprung Tiger from the 1981 model year. That and the warmed-over 1984 Panther were enough to get the new company on its feet, but it would be the 1985 AFS el Tigre and Cougar models that gave the brand some serious traction.

Sporting the A-Frame front suspension with 7.5-in. of travel, a 37-in. ski stance and an all-new rear suspension with twin, outboard-mounted coil-over shocks (with 7-in. of travel), the AFS el Tigre was a huge departure from the previous leafer.

The 1985 el Tigre 6000 weighed a claimed 432 lbs.; was 106 in. long; had a 7-gallon fuel capacity; sported a mechanical disc brake; was powered by the 500cc liquid-twin engine (that required premix!); and had an MSRP of $4,699.

I distinctly remember the first time I saw one in a magazine, and the first time I saw one in person. Both times I was nearly shocked by how aggressive this machine looked. It seemed extra-wide, super-tall and almost intimidating.

What strikes me now as I reflect on that ’85 Tiger is just how tame it is compared to pretty much any modern sled, especially the new ZR6000 el Tigre (which is 12 in. longer; 50-hp more powerful with 5 additional gallons of fuel capacity; and $6,500 more expensive [not inflation-adjusted]).

The stature of the ’85 is completely mild compared to the 2014 model, which isn’t much of a surprise when you think about the super-sizing of every product in the past 30 years.

I was 17 years old in 1985 when I experienced the slight intimidation of the then-new el Tigre 6000. I wonder if 17 year olds today have a similar reaction when they look at the new Tiger?

2014 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 el tigre



  1. I think that Arctic should build a retro like the Auto Industry is doing with the likes of the Camaro’s, Fury’s ect. Current chassis with old Eltigre looks. Now I would buy one of them!!!!!

  2. I think Cat should release an 1100 “el edgar” 2 stroke. No, 1500…and really flaunt their new engines 🙂 I’d buy one immediately.

  3. I had a 1989 elTigre 6000, on the hard pack or on a road, the thing was a rocket, with the big carbs and twin pipes. Deep snow performance was marginal, as the rear outboard shocks and low lugged 16in wide track hampered it, but it sure had a sweet engine. I love the thought of a retro styled sled (not just graphics) but it would take a lot to get me off my F800SP.

  4. I am fortunate enough to have three “Arctco” El Tigre’ 6000’s in my garage. An ’84, an ’85, and a prototype used by cat’s marketing department for the ’89 model year. But the ’85 is by far the most sentimental one I have as it was my Dad’s.

    He bought it nearly new in February 1986 and it was unfortunately the last sled he ever rode, as he passed away in 1988. This sled was etched on his tombstone when he was buried.

    Eventually, the sled was given to me by my family for my 13th birthday, but at the time I really wanted “my own” 6000 (specifically with oil injection) and I felt that my Dad’s sled was a family heirloom… So I passed it to my Brother in April 1993 thinking he would take better care of it then I could. Instead, he traded it to a dealership without my knowledge… At the time I remember being livid that he sold our Dad’s sled.

    Sixteen year later, in April 2009, I was surfing Craigslist, and I came across an ad for an ’85 El Tigre’ 6000 AFS and to my complete disbelief it was indeed my Dad’s old sled. So I reacquired it and it will never, EVER leave my collection again!

    While I was admittedly too young to remember the technical advancement the ’85 model represented, I do remember watching my Dad ride it when it was near new and thinking it was the coolest thing around. It could produce rooster tails that were 15ft or higher! And on a lake it hauled the mail. When you are young, you may think “My Dad is better than yours”… And the ’85 El Tigre AFS was one of the reasons why in my mind that my Dad was a rock star. I am very proud to have his sled in my collection.

    As for the intimidation for when it came out? Well, now-a-days you can clearly see what a radical departure the sled was when you have an ’84 next to it to compare. While many of the styling cues were similar on both sleds, the ’85 really was a giant leap forward from a chassis technology aspect.

    I really enjoyed the story and think this site is great! And to ad, I was thrilled when Cat decided to make the Tiger Six a new model again! And it’s fitting the decided to give the name to the first sled with a homegrown engine.

    Thank you Arctic Insider!

  5. I thought I might add a small facet to this story…I remember this machine well. I rode it for Arctic Cat at the “Road Reports” in Spearfish S.D. in 1985. I had just won the Worlds Championship at Eagle River and I was also one of the stock holders of the “New” Arctco company.
    I was so happy to be part of the Arctic Cat return. I was talkin’ smack and on top of the world, but I will say that riding a company prototype sled that had to be treated very carefully (not to wreck it) and going over and over the same photo shots can make for a long day…Jim

  6. The 1985 Eltigre is the first sled I bought brand new, it was like no other on the snow at the time, everywhere I went people wanted to check it out, it was defiantly a modern sled for the time.


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