This is a 1964 Polaris Sno-Traveler Pacer snowmobile that has been restored back to full working condition. It’s now being offered in running condition ready for winter adventures out of Salem, Oregon.
The Pacer K80 D shown here was named for the fact that it was powered by a Kohler 8 hp engine (K 8.0) and it’s capable of 25 mph on snow with a total weight of 435 lbs. Pacers like this were typically used by anglers, hunters, farmers, trappers, and by the public for general leisure.
Fast Facts – The Polaris Sno-Traveler Pacer Snowmobile
- Polaris Industries was founded in 1954 in Roseau, Minnesota, by Edgar Hetteen, his brother Allan, and David Johnson. Initially, Polaris manufactured farm equipment however this soon changed.
- The transition to snowmobiles was driven by the practical needs of rural Minnesotans for transportation during harsh winters. Their first snowmobile, a 1956 prototype called the “Snow-Cat,” was large and cumbersome, designed primarily for utility purposes.
- Polaris created the first official snowmobile, the Polaris Sno-Traveler, in 1956. This machine was distinct from contemporary “motor toboggans” due to its more sophisticated design, featuring a front-mounted engine and rear drive.
- Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Polaris expanded its snowmobile line, introducing models that catered to both utility and recreational use. These snowmobiles offered many people living in northern latitudes far more winter mobility than they would have had otherwise.
- The Polaris Sno-Traveler Pacer snowmobile you see in this article has been fully restored back to working condition, it’s finished in red and it has a large front windscreen, a padded white seat, and a rear mounted engine to keep the weight over the track. It’s now being offered for sale out of Salem, Oregon.
Polaris and a Quick History of the Snowmobile
The origins of Polaris can be traced back to 1945 and a company named Hetteen Hoist & Derrick in Roseau, Minnesota. It was founded by Edgar Hetteen, his younger brother Allan, and his close friend David Johnson. Initially the company was focussed on repairing farm machinery however this would all change a few years later.
As the story goes, the men developed their first snowmobile-like vehicle in 1955 as a way for them to get to remote hunting shacks in the wintertime when snowfall in Minnesota would make them otherwise inaccessible.
They built it when company boss Edgar Hetteen was away on a business trip, he was apparently furious upon his return to see that company resources had been “wasted” on such a contraption.
Their design used a grain silo conveyor belt as the track, it has a simple steel body, old Chevrolet car bumpers were used as skis, and it was powered by a Briggs and Stratton motor. Despite its cobbled together appearance it quickly sold to lumberyard owner “Silver Pete” H.F. Peterson for $465 USD – a significant sum at the time.
This sale and the amount of interest in the vehicle locally in Minnesota helped to change Edgar Hetteen’s mind on the invention, and he greenlit the project. The men developed a few more models, refining the design, until their first production model was ready in 1956.
In order to test their creation they took it on a 1,200 mile journey across Alaska in 1960, hauling 900 lbs of gear on toboggans towed behind them. It took them 21 days, and their snowmobile worked flawlessly. The adventure got them front page headlines in Minnesota newspapers, and provided the company with much-needed publicity which helped boost sales.
In the decades since, Polaris has grown exponentially. It’s now valued in the billions of dollars and the company produces a line of snowmobiles, ATVs, military vehicles, personal watercraft, and they revived Indian Motorcycles.
The 1964 Sno-Traveler Pacer Shown Here
The snowmobile you see here is a 1964 Polaris Sno-Traveler Pacer K80D, this model was only in production for two years over 1963 and 1964 making it one of the company’s rarer models.
As with all Polaris snowmobiles of the time, the Sno-Traveler Pacer K80D has a simple steel chassis with a curved steel front wind deflector and a perspex windshield. There are a pair of steel skis up front connected to handlebars for steering, there’s a single seat, and a rear mounted engine powering the track.
Power is provided by a Kohler 8 hp engine, this is a simple single-cylinder, air-cooled design that was developed for industrial and agricultural applications, and as such it’s a reliable motor that’s easy to fix when needed.
The drive track is fitted with rubber cleats for better traction and the brakes use a simple friction disc mechanism. The footboards on either side have a steel mesh pattern designed to allow snow to come off the wearer’s boots, and the controls are mounted in the center of the cockpit between the driver’s legs.
This Sno-Traveler Pacer is now being offered for sale out of Salem, Oregon just in time for winter on Bring a Trailer. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer.
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