Snow Goer magazine was launched as the first national snowmobile magazine 50 years ago. To celebrate, Snow Goer is taking readers on a volume-by-volume walk through the history of snowmobiling, as captured on the magazine’s pages. Below is the review of the 1969-70 publishing season. Other years will be also be published — use SG@50 in the search bar on the website to find them. Here’s a link to the opening section plus links to the 1966-67 section, the 1967-68 section, the 1968-69 section, the 1969-70 section, the 1970-71 section, 1971-72 section, the 1972-73 section, the 1973-74 section, the 1974-75 section, the 1975-76 section, the 1976-77 section, the 1977-78 section and the 1978-79 section.
With consecutive years of 15 percent growth and fewer manufacturers, the brands were suddenly bullish going into the 1980 model year, and that confidence was reflected in the September 1979 issue. It was 188 pages, and was referred to as “the million-dollar issue” internally.
In a column, then-publisher Henry Fiola said this issue would reach 1 million snowmobiling families. Sometimes old advertisements are nearly as interesting as the stories in old magazines, and big ads make the September 1979 issue is collector’s item. It features a huge 24-page Arctic Cat insert with fold-out posters, titled “Black Magic: It can make a grown man fly;” a 12-page “Kawasaki 1980: The Goal Line Just Got Moved Again” insert; a 12-page John Deere insert titled “Introducing The New Breed Of Deere For 1980;” and a huge, 28-page “Yamaha. From Head To Snow” insert.
Other big ad packages from Ski-Doo and Moto-Ski further bulked up the issue, plus there was an 18-page snowmobile clothing insert.
The biggest news came from Polaris, with its own leading-arm independent front suspension (commonly referred to as a “trailing-arm” design) with coil-over shocks on new Indy models. Though race sleds and Cat had previous IFS systems, it was the handling and bump absorbing capabilities of the Polaris Indy front end that truly raised the bar on trail sleds going forward.
Other notable launches were the Kawasaki Invader LTD with the Vari-Ride rising rate suspension, the return of the John Deere Liquifire, the loaded Ski-Doo Citation SS and the redesigned Scorpion Whip. The Yamaha Excel V was called “blatantly luxurious,” causing one test rider to say, “It comes complete with everything except a sleeping bag and a Geisha girl.”
In the later issues, the magazine was already teasing readers with leaked details on 1981 models, including the Yamaha SR-V unveiled to the media at Yamaha’s R&D center in September. The first ads for the Chrysler Sno Runner bike appeared in the magazine, and in one issue the magazine said, “The folks at the Scorpion plant in Crosby, Minnesota, are buzzing with excitement over a totally redesigned line of snowmobiles for ’81.”
Unfortunately, 1979 was a year of another oil crisis due to Middle East turmoil. Gas prices shot up, the U.S. economy was in peril and, predictably, worldwide snowmobile sales were affected. They dropped by 25 percent.