Fish Lake Classic Vintage run pulls in several hundred antique snowmobiles for annual ride

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 12:55 PM CST
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FREDENBERG TOWNSHIP, MN. (Northern News Now) - Starting a vintage or antique snowmobile often takes a strong pull, a gentle hand on the throttle and a spray of starting fluid for good luck. The old machines always needed constant maintenance when new and time hasn’t made them anymore reliable.

This 72 Ski Doo TNT was up for sale at the Fish Lake Vintage Snowmobile Rally.
This 72 Ski Doo TNT was up for sale at the Fish Lake Vintage Snowmobile Rally.(kbjr)

“You’re either working on it or riding the next two miles and then you’re stopping to help somebody else out.” said Steve Marshall.

Steve Marshall runs Marshall Hardware in East Duluth and he’s a big fan of Ski Doo Elans from the 70′s. They may need lots of maintenance like other brands of machine but they have a certain charm on the trail or lake.

“They’re light and easy to work on and if you get stuck in this type of snow where you had rain and its crusted you can just meander through the woods riding wherever you want to.” said Marshall.

Vintage sled heads love to rally and show off their rides. One of the biggest meets happens every February on Fish Lake in Fredenberg Township. This year’s was held Saturday and Steve Wick, one of our region’s biggest collectors, wouldn’t miss the annual gathering for the world.

“Lots of fun. Every time we get together there’s a smile on everyone’s face.” said Wick.

So what is considered an antique snowmobile and what constitutes a vintage sled? Antiques are 50 years old or older and vintage machines are 25 to 49 years old. The popularity of this hobby went up during the pandemic and so did the price of buying an old machine.

This home built beast resembles a Hus-ski or Diablo Rouge from the 60's.
This home built beast resembles a Hus-ski or Diablo Rouge from the 60's.(kbjr)

“With covid, everyone was looking for something to do and people had time to be in their garages and when they weren’t working on their computers they were tinkering with them and the machines got bought up and the prices escalated with them.” said Marshall.

Even with inflation, a nice looking and smooth running sled can be had for less than a thousand dollars. In the 50′s to 70′s, there were more than 75 brands of machine from Alouette to Yukon King. Steve Marshall says a newbie to the hobby should start with something from one of the bigger manufacturers like Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski Doo or Yamaha to ease the perennial problem of restoration and maintenance.

“The big thing is trying to get parts for these older sleds so if you stick to a sled that was more common back in the day, you’re probably going to be much more lucky to find parts to repair them because you are going to need the parts.” said Marshall.

Those who want to check out a vintage snowmobile meet can head to the Buffalo House near I-35 this Saturday for the 10th annual Proctor Vintage Snowmobile Challenge.

The meet starts at 9:30 a.m. and the “challenge” is keeping an old machine running long enough for a round trip ride starting at 11:30.

Click above for the video version of the story and hear this El Tigre run.