1967 Moto-Ski Capri
With this vintage snowmobile, you can go where the fun is!
The 1960s were so much fun for sled lovers! There were lots of machines coming out and all kinds of marketing, technology, gimmicks and more. It was wonderful!
Against this backdrop, the Moto-Ski Capri came out with a 15.5-inch-wide center drive rubber track with steel cleats, giving it good traction for climbing the steepest hills with ease. The drive system used a kidney-shaped four-dog drive clutch of Moto-Ski design. The Capri was designed to be lightweight for easy handling. A four-gallon steel fuel tank made for long days of fun riding. It was made with a fiberglass “cab,” or as we now say, “hood.”
The Capri had a list price of $865 and was a very popular snowmobile in its day. We antique and vintage snowmobile collectors always want to know the history of the sleds that we bring back from the dead. Once in a while, we get some great stories of the owners and the adventures they enjoyed when snowmobiling. The story around this sled in particular is certainly one of the more interesting I have heard.
50 years with a Moto-Ski
In January of 1967, Elwyn “Maynard” Erickson from Moose Lake, Minn., bought a new Moto-Ski Capri for $650 from a Volkswagen dealer located in Bloomington, Minn.This same Moto-Ski would survive a house fire, a sled fire and, most impressively, a divorce settlement in 1980, with Maynard keeping his Capri. When a fire burned Maynard’s house to the ground, the fire department helped him save only the garage, where the Moto-Ski happened to sit.
The first motor for this beauty was a 300cc Hirth that made 15hp at 5500 RPM, attaining speeds up to 45mph. Maynard needed more power, though, so he had it modified by Shorty Long of Arctic Cat fame. They used a Gem racing head, piston and changed the HR carburetor to a larger HD size. It had more power and lasted three years before the rod broke and ruined the crank case.
The next motor was a used 372cc JLO with a bad piston. Maynard bored it out, but realized it wasn’t the best motor for the sled; it had torque but lacked speed.
In 1978, Maynard found a new surplus 338cc Hirth with 28hp stock that worked fine through 2003, when a one-lunger racer thought he needed the engine more than Maynard did. After much begging, Maynard sold it to him.
Maynard then found a used 300cc Hirth to put back into the Moto-Ski, and that’s what is in it now. With all the motor changes, the muffler was moved down through the front of the tunnel. After quite a lot of abuse, an untimely bump caused the muffler to jump out of its hole and started a fire under the hood with all the oily grease on top of the tunnel, which almost doomed the machine. Maynard had to fabricate a new exhaust system from 1967 and ’68 parts.
Through the years, restorations and upgrades have been made to the Capri. The steel cleated track was upgraded to rubber cleats. Funky cotter key steering joints were modernized with heim joints. A cool-looking 1968 crossed ski taillight lens replaced the original plain-Jane lens.
Fifty years later, Maynard is still having too much fun with this sled to retire it just yet.
Minnesotan Les Pinz is a vintage sled expert with an extensive collection of historic and other antique sleds, and is a former snowmobile racer. He is a member of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame and one of AmSnow’s regular test riders.