Back Tracks: 1973 Evinrude RC-Trail Blazer

Back Tracks takes a ride on a vintage 1973 Evinrude RC-Trail Blazer.
1973 Evinrude RC-Trail Blazer snowmobile
Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) in Milwaukee, Wis., started building snowmobiles in 1965 and made Evinrude, Johnson and Snow Cruisers from 1965 to 1976. In the early days, OMC used its own 2-stroke boxer-type opposed cylinder horizontal engine, which had a displacement of 362cc and produced 14hp.

Over time, OMC made larger boxer-type opposed engines with different cc and greater horsepower to keep up with competition. The first American-built rotary combustion engine was built under a license agreement from Curtiss-Wright Corporation for Evinrude OMC to build engines expressly for Evinrude snowmobiles. OMC might have used the technology in its outboards in the future, but they initially worked hard to make a quiet snowmobile.
1973 Evinrude RC-Trail Blazer snowmobile
1973 Evinrude RC-Trail Blazer snowmobile
Keep it down in there!

What was pretty amazing at the time was that the 1973 Evinrude RC-35 produced just 78dba (decibels). Most other snowmobiles of the time were around 90dba. So the Evinrude motto (“You have to see them to hear them”) had a grain of truth.

This sled also came with fire-power CD breaker-less ignition for trouble-free riding. This was OMC’s most luxurious, well-equipped snowmobile. I guess you could say this was one of the super Cadillac snowmobiles of its time.

The RC-Trail Blazer had a 528cc rotary engine that produced 35hp at 5500 RPM, and it sold for $1,850 USD. A 50-to-1 fuel-to-oil mixture, using OMC’s oil, was suggested. The 90-day warranty seems odd by today’s standards of 2-4 years. An interior drive polyurethane 24.5-inch track rolled around the suspension, and that track worked great. With three sets of bogey wheel assemblies and lifetime-lubricated bogey wheel bearings, the suspension was made for rugged riding.

The seat was a 4½-inch flip-up with under-seat storage for belts and other things. The battery was also in the rear compartment for easy access. It had a nice fiberglass hood and a 16-inch-high windshield – great for touring and it kept you quite warm. The top half of the hood was white, while the seat and tunnel were dark blue. The company used the more expensive VDO brand gauges for the RC, including a speedo that maxed out at 80 mph and a tach that read to 8,000 RPM.

The dash had a front engine door just under the gauges. You could easily pop that open, and off to the right you’d find a cigarette lighter. When you were waiting for your friends to catch up to you, you could light one up … yes, it was a different time. On this particular sled, it has never even been used!

A great feature on the OMC sleds is a neutral clutch pull knob for early morning engine warm-up. Most OMC’s had a reverse lever installed. You just had to pull it out when stopped, and in reverse you would go. There were other nice features on this sled, too, such as a parking brake lock-on, padded handlebars, and a very easy throttle-lever pull.
This Evinrude also had a 1¾-inch-wide drive belt, whereas others were 13/16–13/8 inches wide. The extra width made the belts a lot stronger. The wide, 34-inch ski stance was solid for running down any type of trail.
1973 Evinrude RC-Trail Blazer snowmobile
Just 10 miles on it!

Yes, you read that right. This beautiful sled has only 10 miles on it. You don’t see that every day! Unfortunately, the original owner died before he got a chance ride it. It was stored in a garage for more than 20 years before being offered for sale at Hay Days. AmSnow’s Tech Editor Olav Aaen snatched it up right away, but because of the incredibly low miles, he didn’t want to put miles on it either! This sled also brought back a lot of memories for Olav because he used to work at OMC as an engineer, and he actually worked on this exact model. I liked to tease Olav and say, “It should be in a museum, just like you!”

Olav eventually sold the sled to Mike and Judy Meagher from Vintage Snowmobile Magazine in order to preserve the history of this fine machine.
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