Back Tracks: 1986 Arctic Cat Pantera

Foxy Cat! The advertisement for this sled read: Enough power to take you comfortably close to the pleasure barrier. You won’t see a slogan like that for a sled now ... or ever again, I promise.
1986 Arctic Cat Pantera
The 1986 Pantera was a racy looking snowmobile. This was the first year for the AFS independent front suspension and it came with a previously unheard-of seven inches of front travel, with the shocks mounted in the belly pan under the hood. This helped from getting snow and ice frozen around them. The rear suspension had 7.5 inches of travel with the use of three coil-over shocks. The rear shocks were mounted outside of the tunnel for better workability and came with molded shock covers to have the longest suspension travel for its time.

■ Wanna go 80 in style? Well, this is your Cat!
In 1986, the Pantera was raced in Snocross and won. What a tribute to this fine snowmobile!

Power came from a liquid-cooled twin cylinder 440cc Sprint engine by Suzuki. The fuel tank held seven gallons, which was nice for long trips. Two VM 34 Mikuni carburetors were used for easy starting and great power. Heated handle bar grips came standard.

Braking was done with floating caliper disc pads. Tracks were molded rubber, 16 inches wide and 121 inches long.

In the first part of October, I had the chance to go to an Arctic Cat dealer called Country Cat in Sauk Centre, MN. Their open house and Vintage Show is always a great event where you can see plenty of new and old sleds, talk with fans and hear lots of stories.
1986 Arctic Cat Pantera
1986 Arctic Cat Pantera
Mr. Mike Mattson had a great looking 1986 Pantera with a super story, too. Mike was driving a 1970 Scorpion Mark II at an old-time ride when it quit, as if it had run out of gas. Mike found out later that the gas filter that was screwed to the bottom of the Tillotson carburetor had come loose, so it sucked air, not gasoline. Along came Ray Kangus with his ‘86 Pantera, pulling him to a road so Mike could load his Scorpion on a trailer to take it home. Mike sat backwards on the Pantera while pulling his broken-down Scorpion. The ride must have made an impression because later Mike couldn’t get that cool-looking Cat out of his head.

Ray lived close by and Mike asked if he would sell his sled. They made a deal and soon Mike owned the Pantera, but it took over a year to rebuild. The hood had all kinds of cracks, but at the winter Vintage Swap at the Waconia Show he found a good hood—no cracks, but bad decals. Mike tried to find someone to make new decals. He put the old hood to use as a pattern and took it to different decal makers to see who, if anyone, would make them. It took a long time to get someone to do them, but he finally found a guy in New York Mills, MN that could and they came out looking great!

At the Country Cat show, he won Best of Show. Such a beautiful Vintage Cat that Mike can ride on a lot of trails and take a lot of places. Thanks, Mike, for sharing the Pantera!
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