By the early 1980s the snowmobile industry was on the decline. The years prior saw a huge shakedown with maker after maker closing their doors. None the less there were still lots of models being offered by those companies who managed to tough it out, including examples from an early pioneer in the field, Quebec’s Moto Ski. One of the largest and most prolific makers they managed to remain in the business for over twenty years. The example seen here is a Mirage II from later in that company’s history.
Founded in 1963 Moto Ski was an almost instant success and every sled they could produce was snapped by by eager buyers. At the time snow machines of the day were more utilitarian then the high performance sport models we see today. Early examples were great work-a-day vehicles used by hunters, outdoorsmen, indigenous people and any others who travelled in remote places in the winter. Later the industry was populated more and more by recreational models and the example we see here could be seen as transitional, still useful as a utility vehicle while having enough performance to make things interesting.
Moto Ski manged to remain independent for only eight years before being adsorbed in the giant Bombardier organization – this company also made the well know Ski-Doo brand of sleds. After the takeover the Moto Ski name was retained and models carried over. Before long however they simply became re-badged Ski-Doos and the only difference was some minor trim and of course the application of Moto Ski’s trademark orange paint scheme.
This Mirage II (or Mirage 2) appears to date from the early 1980s as this author has seen dated advertisements showing models that seem to match the appearance of this one well. Of course I am always happy to hear from any experts or enthusiasts should they have more precise information to share. Moto Ski’s last year was 1985.
In addition to this brand, other defunct snowmobile manufacturers include such varied examples as John Deere, Kawasaki, Harley Davidson, and over a hundred others! Most of these companies lasted a few years while others managed to hang on a bit longer. In the end however it was a massacre and today there are only four companies still selling snowmobiles in North America. They are Bombardier Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat, Polaris and Yamaha.
In addition to snow vehicles, Bombardier is also know for other recreational product, like the the Sea-Doo line of watercraft; Can-Am cycles and quads and so on. They are also a large manufacturer of railway passenger cars, railed transit vehicles, aircraft (Canadair regional jets and De Havilland turbo prop aircraft)…and lots of other things.
This Moto Ski seems complete except for the missing seat and it was spotted while we were walking about in High River.
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Date: January, 2013.
Location: High River, AB.