Vintage Flashback: How Many Were There?

October 2019 Feature Dustin Sweeten, President, Western States Vintage Snowmobile Association

Whenever someone visits the Sweeten Snowmobile Museum in Lindon, UT, they always ask the same two questions: “Do all of these run?” and “How many snowmobile manufacturers were there?”

Normally I respond to the second question, “more than 200” to which they invariably ask, “what happened to them all?”

I explain that the oil embargo of the early 1970s, combined with several poor winters, bankrupted most of the manufacturers or caused the parent companies to discontinue their snowmobile lines.

That repeated question got me interested in researching what the number of brands actually was and how many were still producing each year. Wanting to keep my data relevant I included only manufacturers that sold machines in the U.S. and Canada and considered “snowmobiles” to be a powered sled that is track driven and ski steered.

I did not include kits that could be added to a motorcycle or ATV or tracked vehicles without skis.

The results are as follows. The total number of manufacturers was 211, the most that ever produced in a single year was 102 and that was in 1971. Below is a list of the number of manufacturers producing during a given year. The trend is obvious as more than 200 manufacturers dropped to four, the number we have today. The machines now produced from those four companies are a vast improvement from the rudimentary sleds sold during the snowmobile craze half a decade ago.

1924-1946 1

1947-1948 2

1949 3

1950-1951 6

1952-1953 5

1954 7

1955 5

1956-1958 8

1959 12

1960 14

1961 13

1962 16

1963-1964 20

1965 29

1966 34

1967 47

1968 61

1969 74

1970 97

1971 102

1972 91

1973 59

1974 49

1975 36

1976 26

1977 18

1978 11

1979 11

1980-1981 10

1982 9

1983 7

1984 8

1985 6

1986 5

1987-1995 4

1996-1997 5

1998 6

1999 7

2000-2002 9

2003-2004 8

2005 7

2006-2007 8

2008 9

2009-2010 7

2011-2014 6

2015 5

2016-2019 4

(ED—Sweeten is the owner of the Sweeten Snowmobile Museum in Lindon, UT.)

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