Snowmobiling In 1970-71: Rupp, Skiroule & Johnson

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 and the 1969-70 section.

The 1970s

The 1970s started with Richard Nixon in the White House, Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on the radio and Robert Young winning an Emmy for portraying “Marcus Welby M.D.” It ended with Jimmy Carter wrapping up an unpopular single term, The Knack’s “My Sharona” edging out Donna Summers’ “Bad Girls” as 1979’s best-selling song and “Three’s Company,” “Dallas” and “The Dukes of Hazzard” dominating the TV. In between there was an impeachment and resignation, “Jaws” making us scared to swim and a lot of bell bottoms, mini-skirts and garish colors and patterns.

And, there were more than 3 million snowmobiles made and sold by more than 300 brands during the decade. There was an incredible burst of excitement and energy in snowmobiling when the decade started, a notable bust due to high oil prices and snowmobile overproduction, and then another rise and fall. Despite the relative turmoil, the 1970s were the most colorful years in the snowmobile industry, as competitors big and small fl ooded the market and begged for attention, extensive trail networks were developed and snowmobile racing reached unforeseen heights.

All of that and more was reflected in the pages of Snow Goer magazine.


Snow Goer magazine 1971
The January 1971 cover of Snow Goer magazine


The spring of 1970 saw the release of 1971 model year snowmobiles, and a Snow Goer test and photo session in Mount Hood, Oregon. Sleds and representatives from AMF/Ski-Daddler, Arctic Cat, Bolens, Chaparral, Johnson, Mercury, Polaris, Rupp, Scorpion, Skiroule and Ski-Doo showed up and were featured in the fall’s fi rst Snow Goer issue, but that issue featured far more than those 11 brands.

It also had details and specs on sleds from 28 other brands: Alouette, Ariens, Auto Ski, Boa-Ski, Bonanza, Cushman, Dauphin, Eagle, Eskimo, Evinrude, Gilson, Grand Prix, Herter’s, JC Penney, Montgomery Ward, Moto-Ski, New Frontier, Northway, OMC, Poloron, Ski-Whiz/Massey Ferguson, Sno-Prince, Sno-Jet, Sportscraft, Sports Power, Starcraft, Viking and Yamaha.

1971 Rupp Snow Goer
This ad for the 1971 Rupps appeared in the September 1970 issue of Snow Goer.

Plus these five additional brands advertised but didn’t get covered in stories: Suzuki, Ski-Zoom, Sno-Pony, Leisurecraft and Passe Par Tout. Totaled together, that’s 44 brands, and the magazine truly just scratched the surface of the snowmobiles being produced at the time.

New snowmobile sales in North America for the 1970-71 season were estimated at 494,000, causing even more brands to jump in, including everything from big multi-national corporations looking for a winter product to upstart companies that proved that virtually anybody who could spark a welder and source an engine could create a brand. Production rose mightily as some Wall Street types told the business-to-business Trade magazine that snowmobile sales would reach 1 million units annually by 1975.

The sudden popularity of snowmobiling, and the desire of the sport’s marketers to try it as the “in” thing were best reflected in some of the advertising at the time, including a promotion for Snow Goer The ad refers to snowmobilers as “swinging, affluent fun families. Families that are on the go. Families that set the fashion trends…. They fish. They hunt. They drink. They travel. Want to sell these young families? Be where THEY are every month, in Snow Goer.”

Circulation rocketed up to 200,000 copies in the magazine’s fifth year. Also interesting from the 1970-71 season were editorials on why riders should consider joining a snowmobile club, details on how to stud (or “peg” as they said) a snowmobile track and travel stories to destinations like Yellowstone, the Black Hills, Quebec, the Adirondacks of New York and Minnesota’s North Shore – places that still attract traveling snowmobilers today.



Snow Goer Skiroule snowmobile
The Skiroule S-400, as featured in Snow Goer magazine in the fall of 1970.




Snow Goer Johnson ad
The Skee-Horse Wide Track offered 30 — yes, 30! — big horses, according to this ad from in Snow Goer in 1970.





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