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Back Tracks: 1983 Polaris Sport

This one plays hard!
1983 Polaris Sport
Back in the early 80s, the snowmobile industry was hit with several very warm winters in a row with very little or no snow. The snowmobile manufacturers saw a lot of consolidation in the years leading up to ‘83 and they were down to just five makers including Arctic Cat, Polaris, John Deere, Ski-Doo and Yamaha.

The now defunct Snow Week racing publication reported in September of 1980 that Bombardier, the maker of Ski-Doo snowmobiles, was trying to buy Polaris from Textron’s E-Z-Go division but that failed. On December 16, 1981 Polaris industries of Roseau, MN announced it was attempting to buy Cat, but that also fell through. Who knows what would have happened if either one would have went through. Needless to say, the sled business was in dire straits and it was very hard times back then.

1983 was rough, but interesting!
With Arctic Cat not making any snowmobiles for the 1982 season, Polaris decided for the 1983 season it would make a nice little easy-handling snowmobile which they aptly named “The Sport.”

It was powered by a twin cylinder 432cc fan-cooled Star engine using trouble free CDI ignition. They included a single VM30SS-slide Mikuni carburetor for easy starting and good fuel economy. The Sport used Polaris Alum drive and driven clutches to make a direct drive system. This direct drive had no chain case, with the driven clutch mounted on the front drive shaft. Some setups used larger driven clutches if they had the room. It was the starting out drive ratio that was sometimes hard to do there.

The Sport came with an eight inch disc brake mounted on the right side drive shaft for good stopping power. The track was molded rubber and was 15 inches wide and 108 inches long. The track spun around a slide rail suspension for a very nice ride. The fuel tank, by most standards, was a diminutive 5.4 US gallons, but that was plenty for a nice day’s ride back then. Oil injection was also standard. Ski stance was 31 inches with a low center of gravity for very nice handling and riding. There were Molly single leaf ski springs with shocks to handle the bumps. Under hood storage was only a zipper bag that was nine inches long by three inches wide. This was good enough for spark plugs and tools.

1983 Polaris Sport speedometer
We have one that we use on a lot of vintage rides for great fun. This particular Sport was sold at Kenyon Lawn & Leisure from Chillicothe, Illinois and has only 1479 miles on it. How it got to Minnesota could be a great story on its own! Going back to the hardships of the winters of the early 1980s, and obviously Cat not selling sleds that year, Polaris wanted to appeal to more folks and get them to check out their snowmobiles. So the ingenious idea was to offer this decal package on this sled that was a nice dark green. Even the instructions on the hood under the windshield were green! Was this to maybe get Arctic Cat and John Deere people to buy them? Hmmm…

Scorpion snowmobiles also tried to do different colored hoods back in the early 70s to get other buyers from other brands but I don’t think that it worked out very well back then either.
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