Back Tracks: Ski-Doo Elite

A new way to enjoy winter!
Ski-Doo Elite late model
Test rider Butch Veltum sitting in a later model Elite.
“The Elite will change all your ideas about Snowmobiling.” That was a slogan back in 1973 when Ski-Doo came up with break-through side-by-side seating. Being a leader in innovation, Ski-Doo made something that looked and handled totally different than traditional sleds.

■ What was it?
This absolutely out of this world machine had power that came from a Rotax 436cc fan-cooled twin-cylinder motor putting out around 30 horsepower, which was a little light on power for this large snowmobile with twin 15-inch wide rubber tracks. The engine was in the rear of the snowmobile, which was also very unique. Overall width was 44 inches and length was 103 inches. It was certainly larger than a regular snowmobile and it weighed in at 682 lbs. With that much weight and having less horsepower it wasn’t that speedy, but it had a nice ride. The fiberglass body was reinforced with steel bracing to hold its shape while riding all the different types of trails.

The Elite came in a white color and orange decals with black tunnel. It had a nice big windshield for comfort and warmth, with black seats and plenty of leg room for long rides. It had interesting features like a padded dash, electric start, a transmission with reverse and a covered rear engine compartment that looked stylish and helped with sound quality. It came with disc brakes for positive stopping action and a bogie wheel suspension so you could ride in fairly low snow conditions. The skis were made with nice large loops to grab. Ski shocks were also standard.
Ski-Doo Elite
In 1974, no Elites were made, but Ski-Doo re-identified ones in stock as 1975 models. After 1975, they stopped making the Elite, until 1978 when it came back as a limited production vehicle, with a higher price of $3995. It was again difficult to sell and only 190 machines were built. The 1978 model had a 444cc Rotax engine liquid cooled rotary valve twin cylinder that made more power and was a little heavier at 773 pounds overall. Suspension was moved from the bogie wheel to a slide rail type for smoother ride. Fuel capacity was 8.5 gallons. Elites were also equipped with a CB radio, AM/FM radio and cross country ski rack. Sales were still tough to come by and only 199 Elite units were produced in 1979.

In 1982 the Elite model had a production of only 150 units. The price tag went up to $4,999 US and weight did to, tipping the scales at 805lbs. Not very many were sold and production and was halted.

In 2004 there was a comeback for the Elite, but would only last two years. The new Elite was incredible with a Rotax three-cylinder 1494cc 4-stroke engine from a Ski-Doo watercraft. The price went up again with the size of the grey colored snowmobile. Horsepower was great and it had much better ride and handling. The improvements were measurable, but weight went up again too, topping 1100 lbs. Price was $24,999 CA back then and this was a limited build so even these newest Elites are extremely rare.

Prices for one of these used Elites came down to about $10,000 for a time, but with the stronger economy, prices have shot up more recently.
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