Editors Note: The last Snowmobile of the Year of the previous century was the 1999 Polaris Indy 700 XC SP, which was a great sled. However, what might be more memorable, internally, was all the work that was involved in creating the magazine’s cover image! Today, somebody could probably put something like this together in Photoshop in a matter of hours. In the fall of 1998 when this was created, though, we literally hired an ice carver to create the podium — which had to be handled very carefully! Also, photographer extraordinaire Wayne Davis brought in dry ice to create the mystical smoke/steam around the bottom of the podium and in front of the white curtain. Then the snowmobile had to be shot just-so in a similar scene in front of a white curtain, and then an artist had to painstakingly stitch together the multiple images. Today? You might be able to do most of that on your phone camera?! Either way, let’s look back at the 1999 Snowmobile of the Year, as presented in the March 1999 issue of Snow Goer. And, click through to see past snowmobile of the year honorees.
In a year when merely tweaking the status quo was fashionable, one brand made a dramatic leap into the future.
Polaris released six new motors, introduced new body styles, developed new shock technology, upped the ante on hydraulic brakes, improved ergonomics and redefined its performance image.
All of this marks a resurgence for Polaris, the company that is still leading the industry in marketshare but seemed to have lost its edge in the mid 1990s.
That changes for 1999, and the sled that best represents what is new and exciting about Polaris snowmobiles is the Indy 700 XC SP, our 1999 Snow Goer Snowmobile of the Year.
The performance of the U.S.-built 698cc twin under the hood was never in doubt — sleds featuring this torque-miester were a solid lock for our Top 10 the past two seasons. But that powerplant had always been encapsulated in a less-than-stellar package. Well the times have changed.
The Generation II revisions, the new brake and the ride quality improvements offered by the Fox/Polaris Position Sensitive (PPS) shock are all on the cutting edge.
Gen II is more than a body style: It’s a total package that makes Polaris snowmobiling better. It includes functional items like a triple-bulb headlight and larger gauges that make snowmobiling safer. It features new handlebars and controls that make cruising more comfortable. It offers a new hood, bellypan, windshield and bumpers to make Polaris more posh.
A new hydraulic disc brake is included. It offers easy, one-finger stopped without being grabby.
The XC-10 front and XTRA-10 rear suspensions systems are largely the same, with one huge exception: The new shocks. Polaris’ XC SP features premium Fox internal floating piston gas shocks all the way around, with a very special Fox IFP in the rear.
The Fox PPS is a two-stage shock, with a unique design featuring internal bleed holes to create one damping rate at mid-stroke and a steeper rate when it is more fully cycled. This on shock truly does change the ride quality of the Polaris XTRA-10 rear — it is now a suspension that can handle all trail circumstances in one setting.
The XC-10 front, meanwhile, features tipped-in trailing arms and Polaris’ Controlled Roll Center (CRC) package that provides front-end handling that is rivaled only by Arctic Cat’s double-wishbone design.
The sum of these parts is a fabulous sled. The 1999 Polaris Indy 700 XC SP is a lightweight, agile sled with a class-leading motor, easy-to-use amenities and top-notch ride quality. With this sled in the lead, Polaris’ future again looks brighter than their three-buld headlight. And that’s very bright.