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Snow Goer 1977-78: Liquid Cooling Takes Over Snowmobiling

By John Prusak

50th-finalSnow 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, and the 1976-77 section.

 

1977-78

September 1977 Snow Goer

The September 1977 cover of Snow Goer magazine.

The move to liquid-cooled consumer sleds kicked into high gear for 1978, as more brands integrated technology previously used primarily in racing.

This is when consumers could first buy a Yamaha SRX, while the Arctic Cat El Tigré 6000 jumped from 55 to 70 hp, thanks to liquid cooling. Ski-Doo’s Blizzard 6500 and Everest 444 L/C, introduced mid-year the previous season, went into full production, as did the Moto-Ski Futura 444 L/C. Kawasaki dumped the Sno-Jet name and free-air machines and introduced the liquid-cooled Invader 440 and 340 models, plus the fan-cooled Inviter, Intriguer and Intruder.

Snow Goer 1977

The December 1977 cover of Snow Goer magazine.

An intra-brand comparison story between liquid- and fan-cooled sleds drove home the point: Not surprisingly, the liquids won every comparo.

Just eight brands were included in the 1978 Buyer’s Guide issue – Arctic Cat, John Deere, Moto-Ski, Kawasaki, Polaris, Scorpion, Ski-Doo and Yamaha – but the sleds were definitely taking on more modern features and looks. After taking a couple of seasons off, Ski-Doo brought back the unique, twin-tracked Elite side-by-side snowmobile.

Two trademark Snow Goer tests returned. The 1,000-mile endurance test proved how good snowmobiles were becoming, as the tested sleds needed few repairs. The Arctic Cat Jag only needed a clutch spring and the John Deere Liquifire 440 just needed the chain tensioner replaced. Kawasaki’s Inviter 340 needed two carb jets, two spark plugs and one ski, while the Polaris TX 340 had a few track problems. The Scorpion Whip 440 needed one spark plug, and the Yamaha Exciter 440 burned up one belt.

Overall, the quality of the sleds was making the “torture test” seem rather overplayed.

More notable was the mileage test. It was based on a 34-mile controlled test ride mpg in which the Arctic Cat Jag 3000 used less than a gallon of fuel. Its 36.3 mph was the runaway best, followed by the John Deere Spitfire 340 at 27.4 mpg.

And most importantly, the rapid decline of the snowmobile market was reversed. With all of this new iron drawing people into dealerships, new sled sales in North America increased for the first time since 1971, growing 15.9 percent to 226,000 units. Finally, many hoped, the happy days were here again.

Snow Goer 1978

The January 1978 cover of Snow Goer magazine.

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