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Turning Vintage

1994 models with a new lease on life
1994 Arctic Cat ZR 700
Rumors of a 600cc ZR were confirmed by Cat engineers for 1994, but they found the engine not as effective as the 580 in testing, and scrapped the project.
Each season AmSnow looks at the newly minted vintage sleds celebrating their 25th birthdays. This year marks a quarter-century for the class of 1994.

This article does not encompass the entire lineup from the four OEMs in ‘94, we focus on newer innovations of the time, industry happenings, and drop a few hints as to what might be sought after for collectors. Many stories are told about memories of these old sleds, riding experiences, and fun had. We hope you might share a memory or two after reading this as well!

Arctic Cat takes aim
Team Green made no secret about its mission for the 1994 model year, unseat the Polaris’ Indy as the champion of cross country snowmobile racing.
Accomplishing that goal actually started the previous model year with the very limited release of the 1993 ZR 440 and 580 models, but 1994 got the introduction of the 700cc ZR and a host of changes to the ZR lineup with the continued emphasis on usurping race day dominance from the Indy lineup of its in-state rival. To illustrate that point, the new bumper on the ’94 ZR was referred to by Cat racers as an “Indy remover.”

Changes included an updated front suspension, dubbed the AWS-IV that featured a flatter A-arm angle, slightly raised sway bar and FOX floating piston gas shocks (Floats).

The 700 ZR employed the same twin-engine as the 700 Wildcat, but traded in the Wildcat’s fuel injection system for 40mm Mikuni carbs. The hoods of the ZR models were changed from fiberglass to Metton (a liquid molded plastic) for ’94 as well.

The 1994 ZR sleds were also the first under the Arctco banner to use a hydraulic disc braking system. Cat previously used a hydraulic disc brake, but not since Arctco pulled the brand out of financial crisis. The new brake system was fantastic for the racetrack, but was a little overkill at the time for the general consumer.

For 1994, the EXT 580 came in both a fuel injected model and a carbureted model. The EXT sleds were seen as a more touring oriented version of the high performance ZR models. The EXTs featured a similar look to the ZR for the buyer who wanted the high performance appearance, but did not need the full capabilities of the ZR.

For the mountains, Cat carried over its success from the high-powered 900cc triple Thunder Cat trail sled to a new 136-inch Mountain Cat snowmobile powered with the same engine. Sounds familiar? Ironically, today’s Thundercat trail models come with a 137-inch track – an inch longer than what was on the original Mountain Cat.
1994 Polaris Indy
Still #1 in ’94 Polaris was the OEM that everyone was gunning for in the early 1990s and the Indy was still the main target.
An electric fuel gauge was available on the updated ’94 Polaris Indy models.
The “new” Indy sleds made their debut for the 1994 model year as Polaris forged ahead as the snowmobile industry’s top manufacturer.

Some of the biggest changes to the Indy machines for 1994 were immediately evident at a glance. A new hood design eliminated the nosecone, employed the “drop” panel design to access clutches and brakes, and required Polaris engineers to design a new belly pan, plus an integrated bumper and windshield.

Internally, the engine’s bulkhead was lowered, requiring a repositioned suspension spindle angle to provide increased ski pressure for better handling. A similar concept was used in the 1993 Storm 750.

The “evolved” Indy sleds, as Polaris called them, featured updated suspensions with the front being a new version of the Polaris IFS. It allowed for the use of ½-inch longer shocks thanks to the new V-shaped belly pan design and revised bulkhead.

The skid was the second generation of the Improved Transfer Suspension (ITS) called the Type II ITS. It calmed weight transfer just enough to make the new Indy models a little friendlier to average buyers.

Polaris also brought a new XC-100 rear suspension to the 432cc fan-cooled Indy Super Sport and the XCR for 1994. The SS was fitted with nitrogen gas cell, cam adjustable shocks, and the XCR (also the XLT Special) boasted Fox internal floating piston (IFP) shocks.

The Indy Sport series of sleds – including the Sport and Sport SKS – was a big success story for Polaris. They were some of the most in-demand sleds of their day, and for 1994 Polaris sold out of Indy Sports before the snow even stopped falling on the 1993 model year.

The Indy Storm received fanfare for its updated 1994 model, that included a new XC-100 rear suspension along with a 50cc bump in engine size, now up to 800cc. To achieve the extra displacement, the Storm received redesigned pistons, porting shapes, and cylinder head combustion chambers to its liquid triple power plant. Clutching and carburation were also recalibrated.

The end result for the 115-inch Storm and 133.5-inch Storm SKS, was a 10 percent power gain.
1994 Ski-Doo Formula Z
New formula and improved Mach Z. There were plenty of changes for Ski-Doo’s 1994 lineup including a new Formula Z and an improved Mach Z. Both were built on the same platform.
1994 Ski-Doo Summit
Summit made up ground In a western market that Ski-Doo needed it to, while still being trail-performance minded.
Ski-Doo gets serious
The winds of change at Ski-Doo blew like a tornado in the early- to mid-1990s. That’s when Anthony J. Kalhok took over management of BRP’s recreational products division. He knew Ski-Doo needed to change everything from corporate structure, to staffing, to how consumers identified their sleds in the market.

With the intention to return Ski-Doo to the top of the snowmobile industry, where it resided in the 1970s, Kalhok promoted Russ Davis to Vice President in charge of the U.S. market. He also made Pierre Beaudoin (grandson of J. Armand Bombardier) head of Ski-Doo engineering. Beaudoin had just reinvigorated the Sea-Doo product line, and now would try his hand with the same task for Ski-Doo snowmobiles.

The sleds took advantage of two of BRP’s biggest strengths – Rotax engines and a rear suspension that worked. Engineers worked with those when developing the new lightweight aluminum chassis with a simplified front trailing arm suspension. It was first introduced on the 1993 MX Z and Mach Z. The chassis was tabbed as the F-2000.

Changes in the 1994 lineup were immediately noticed from the outside with a color coded product offering. High-performance “muscle sleds” were black, sport performance sleds were red, cross country machines wore the traditional yellow, touring sleds were blue and deep powder offerings were green.

The Mach Z received small changes with significant impact after its very limited 1993 release (500 sleds total). The center piston of the 744cc triple was prone to burning down, so the ’93 models were retrofitted with new components and new ’94 models were given the same upgrades along with the engine being lowered about 2 inches.

Built on the same Mach Z platform, the 1994 Forumla Z replaced the Plus X from the previous season. Similarly, the Formula STX equipped with the new F-2000 chassis debuted replacing the Plus.

Mountain riders will find the 1994 Ski-Doo model release memorable for one reason: the Summit. In its first season, the Summit sleds rode in an extended version of the new aluminum F-2000 chassis with 136-inch track lengths. This new deep-powder specific sled had a new 36-inch wide ski stance for easier handling off trail.

The Summit came in either a 581cc rotary-valved twin or 463cc twin engine. Both engines featured BRP-patented High Altitude Compensator devices which automatically adjusted the fuel-air mixture with changing elevations, without adding the cost or complexity of EFI.

The 1994 Summit re-focused Ski-Doo in the western market, a well needed shot in the arm for the Quebec-based sled-maker.
1994 Yamaha V-Max 600
Bye Bye Exciter! The '94 lineup said goodbye to the Exciter, but a big hello to many more V-Max machines and new motors!
Yamaha tennis shoes
Totally 90s!
We bet you didn’t know that Yamaha made high-tops back in the early 1990s! We came across these in our archives and had to laugh. Will the Yama-shoes make a comeback in Yamaha’s YPAD lineup this year?
I’m not sure you’d call it putting all your eggs into one basket, but 10 of Yamaha’s 18 models in American Snowmobiler’s 1994 buyers guide had “V-Max” lettering on them.

The V-Max-4 750 returned, and there was a new class of lower displacement V-Max sleds to replace the entire Exciter II series in 1994. That included replacing the much heralded Exciter SX which made its splash in 1993, but curiously did not return in 1994.

Although the Exciter name badge was gone, a lot of technical specs were not. Things like a similar TSS front suspension, Pro Action Link rear suspension, and NiCaSil cylinders carried over to the new lower displacement V-Max 500 and V-Max 600 models.

Also new for the 1994 was the introduction of longer 136-inch tracked V-Max machines. All three engine sizes – 750 triple, 600 twin, and 500 twin – had the longer track option.

The first-year 500cc and 600cc V-Maxs featured a liquid cooled engine with the 500 getting a square 68mm x68mm bore and stroke. The 600 (actually 598cc) was a bored-out version (to 74.8mm) of the same engine.

Both those new engines, Yamaha claimed, had the largest reed valves in the industry. They could deliver larger fuel/air mixture volumes to the cylinders. At the time in 1994, Yamaha claimed that allowed them to deliver twice the horsepower upon clutch engagement than their competition.

The TSS suspension was unique. Although it had been around for a while in 1994, the new 500 and 600 Vmax sleds had their own specific version, due to longer struts and shocks.

The other news in blue’s lineup for 1994 were finishing touches like an LE or DX versions of sleds. The LE came with electric start, the DX also came with that, plus a 2-up seat and reverse.
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