Back Tracks: 1982 Scorpion Sierra

1982 Scorpion Sierra
Back in February of 1981, Arctic Cat was in rough shape. A few years of marginal snow and a declining economy made for poor snowmobile sales. Arctic Enterprises Inc. of Thief River Falls, Minnesota (who built Arctic Cat and Scorpion snowmobiles) filed for bankruptcy proceedings to seek court protection from creditors to help keep some of the company’s assets. They were hoping to still make some snowmobiles.

■ Crazy times!

It looked like Cat wanted to keep making Scorpion snowmobiles for its dealers in the future because there was a great looking 1982 Scorpion prototype called a Sierra that we got to take a look at. Arctic made a few other Sierra prototypes, now in other collectors’ possessions, and those are a little different in styling. This specific Sierra was bought at Arctic Cat’s auction and wound up in north Minnesota. When I found this Scorpion Sierra it had 3521 miles on it. It was still a nice riding and handling snowmobile. Few people know how rare this Sierra actually is!

1982 Scorpion Sierra
The hood and belly pan was hand made of fiberglass and painted orange with gray on the center of the hood to give a different look. It also came with a very nice large windshield to protect the rider in the cold weather. The large molded air intake attached under the hood used the three vents at the nose to force cold air to the fan cooled twin-cylinder Scorpion Cuyuna engine and kept it running better with more durability.

A nice set of dual Mikuni carburetors under the hood made for very good reliability and easy throttle pull. They used a CDI ignition for better plug life and much more durability than point ignition. The Sierra had its power delivered through an Arctic Cat hex drive clutch with an 11-inch cam driven clutch through a jack-shaft with a nice disc brake. It had a 15-inch internal drive rubber track using the Scorpion Para-Rail Suspension system for a great ride. They modified the use of the Para-Rail system so they didn’t have to make a hole for the rear shock up into the top of the rear of the tunnel, like they did on other Scorpions. That means there was more room in the rear seat storage area.
1982 Scorpion Sierra
The engineers used an Arctic Cat frame, putting a patch on the running board where the rear shocks would have been. Remember that this was just a prototype and a lot of changes could have been made before the actual production unit would have been put down the assembly line. The seat was hand-made but they still used the rear tail light assembly from the Sidewinder sled the year before. Handlebars were from Cat but they used Scorpion skis. Most everything that was used on the 1981 Scorpion Sidewinder could have been used on the Sierra.

By the looks of this prototype, it sure seemed like Arctic Cat wanted to keep Scorpion snowmobiles available for its dealers in the future, but it wasn’t to be. It’s too bad it had to happen, but I’m so glad they didn’t destroy this great piece of snowmobile history and I am so lucky to have this Sierra in my collection.
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