Back Tracks: 1976 Arctic Cat El Tigre

“The good-time high-tailin’ Cat!” That was the tagline for this fun machine more than 40 years ago.
1976 Arctic Cat El Tigre
“The good-time high-tailin’ Cat!” That was the tagline for this fun machine more than 40 years ago. The El Tigre had a very stylish and pronounced black fiberglass hood and a belly pan with great green side decals. It had green pin striping down the edge of their smart-looking pleated racing-inspired seatwith a rear hump so you wouldn’t fall off when you accelerated.

The rear hump provided storage with Velcro on the flap (Velcro was pretty new back then on a sled). With the seat at about nine inches thick, it had a great look and was very comfortable. The hood had large air louvers for cool air flow to Suzuki’s Spirit free-air engine and a nice medium-height tinted windshield that looked good and actually worked!
1976 Arctic Cat El Tigre
■ Putting out the power!
You could have either a 4000 model that came with a 440cc engine or a 5000 model with a 500cc engine. These used twin Mikuni slide carburetors for easy starting and smooth running. There was also an air intake hose to pickup cool air from outside of the hood. A CDI ignition was used for better starting and longer lasting spark plugs. The fuel capacity was 7.1 gallons with the gas cap having a float fuel gauge as standard equipment. The El Tigre’s exhaust was a two into one Y-pipe and then to a single round muffler in front of the engine. This left a lot of room under the hood for easy access to the chain case.

The drive clutch was Arctic Cat’s hex style with a 10 ¾-inch cam driven clutch for smooth power transfer to the jack-shaft, then to the chain case. There were internal drive sprockets for the internal drive track. Cam-Action Disc brakes were mounted on the jack shaft to make them smooth and reliable.

The track was a 15 and 2/3-inch cleated one with an Arctic Cat rubber logo gripper molded every 1/3 side where there is no cleat. The grippers were about ½-inch tall which is a little taller than the cleats so this helped keep the El Tigre from sliding on icy trails. The use of a 2/3-inch cleat helps prevent cleats from breaking as often. The slide rail suspension used coil springs and shocks to control the ride.
1976 Arctic Cat El Tigre
El Tigre had nice padded handlebars with a high/low headlight beam switch on the left side by the brake handle. It came with single leaf springs with shocks on the front skis with nice large ski loops for easy grabbing when one needed to pull it around. The skis are around six inches wide which made the outside ski stance around 34.5 inches for great cornering ability and a super ride. When you ride this snowmobile you realize just how far they have come from the sleds of the late 60’s.

About four years ago I found two nice El Tigres that were owned by a man and his wife from Wisconsin. They are in excellent shape. One has 1640 miles on it and the other one has 3588 miles. We take them on vintage rides and receive lots of positive comments about them. They still ride and perform perfectly!
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