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Back Tracks: 1970 Arctic Cat Panther P-35 'Heartbreaker'

Troy’s restoration of the Heartbreaker was a true labor of love. Thanks to all the people who helped to provide one of the best surprises a son could give his dad!
1970 Arctic Cat Panther P-35 Heartbreaker
This 1970 Arctic Cat Panther P-35 model came with a 634cc Hirth motor and was one of the plushest sleds available at that time. It had an aluminum chassis with a cool leopard-pattern seat cover to make other sled owners envious. Back in the day, Arctic Cat sure had style in clothing and accessories. I thought the chrome Montana pipes on each side of the bumpers were especially cool. They made a great deep, throaty sound.

■ Gone, but not forgotten
In 1971, Donny Lang bought a used 1970 Arctic Cat Panther. He put Cat Claws in the track for better traction and lined up the track to roll more easily. Donny would put in new spark plugs and new drive belt before a race, and won so many that he called his sled “The Heartbreaker” on behalf of all the riders who lost to it.

They called Donny “Big D.” In 1974, some Arctic Cat El Tigres wanted to race. He put in new plugs, a belt and got a great hole-shot and beat them all.

He gave the sled to his son, who drag-raced at Grove Creek. But then Donny stored it in a granary, which caught fire and melted the hood, among other things. He then gave it to a friend in Bovey, Minnesota, who put the sled out in the woods on a rock pile.

Fast-forward to 2016 when son Troy asked: What ever happened to the Heartbreaker? The answer led to northern Minnesota, where Troy found it, still on the rock pile. It was in very bad shape, but it was his dad’s Cat! He brought it back home and put it in his garage.

Troy saw that the Waconia Vintage snowmobile show was coming up on January 26, 2018 – his dad’s 80th birthday. What a gift it would be to have the Heartbreaker running again! Troy was surprised at how many vintage snowmobilers helped out with parts that he needed. He had to take the bulkhead apart, replace all the bearings in the chassis, and rebuild the engine.

Art Seydel offered up a new hood and windshield. Troy did the restoration in six weeks, putting in 12- to 15-hour days when he could.
1970 Arctic Cat Panther P-35 Heartbreaker
Troy didn’t know how he was going to get his dad out to look at old sleds, but he lined it up with other Arctic Cats down on the lake.

They went into the tent and were surprised when someone called out: “Hi Big D and happy birthday!’’ Troy then brought Donny down to look at the vintage sleds. When he came to the Heartbreaker, he thought it was a clone until Troy revealed the truth. Donny didn’t know what to say. It brought back so many memories!

Back was his 1970 P-35 Panther better than new. Drive and driven clutches to a jack shaft with disc brakes, with a rebuilt drive chain and drive sprockets. The track was a 17-inch wide by 54-inch cleated double-drive, with slide-rail suspension for a great ride. Cat’s motto was “Outrides them all in dependability, comfort and safety.” You could add “and creating great memories” to that motto, too. It certainly was the case for Big D, who got one of the best birthday surprises a son could give his dad.
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