performance-minded company tried to go the racing-promotion
route with unsuccessful attempts in cross-country and oval
racing, culminating with four SnoPro sleds for the initial
season of the factory racing circuit in winter 1973-74.
Sadly, the Suzuki SnoPros were not competitive and became
just another obscure footnote in snowmobile history. The
company even tried to entice snowmobilers into another kind
of racing, called snocross, but that didn’t get off the
So the motorcycle giant changed strategy. It would have a
hot sled built for them by someone else, but one that used
Suzuki’s own powerful engine technology. Contract
manufacturing was common in the burgeoning snowmobile
industry, with numerous examples ranging from Polaris
building badge-engineered Homelite and Sears sleds all the
way to Skiroule manufacturing significantly different
machines for Ariens.
The choice of a vendor was easy. Suzuki was already engaged
in long-term engine testing with Arctic Enterprises Inc. who
had a new, modern assembly facility in northwestern
Minnesota. With demand for anything gas-powered falling
sharply following the 1973 Arab oil embargo, Arctic Cat was
actively looking for this kind of contract manufacturing
business. Plus by 1974 Arctic Cat had many warranty issues
with the Kawasaki powerplants and was looking for a new
engine supplier for the 1976 season.
Thus the Suzuki Fury was born, with Arctic Enterprises
getting a three-year contract to manufacture the new model.
The 1975 Suzuki Fury was essentially a 1974 Arctic Cat El
Tigré with a Suzuki engine instead of a Kawasaki powerplant
under a new and unique hood.
The Suzuki 432cc free-air twin was quite similar to the
Kawasaki two-cylinder performance engines that Cat had used
since 1971, so it dropped right into the El Tigré chassis
with minimal issues. Even the twin pipes on this new Suzuki
engine caused no problems because this chassis had been
originally developed for the 1972 EXT with twin-pipe
Kawasaki racing engines. It was a slam-dunk, so to speak.
There was a difference in power output, however. A ram-air
box, velocity stacks on the carbs, new CEM manufacturing
technology for harder cylinder walls that allowed closer
tolerances, and the twin exhaust pipes helped the Suzuki
engine develop 60 hp and 40.8 pound-feet of torque at 7500
rpm. This was 5 horses more than the single-piped
Kawasaki-powered El Tigrés or probably any other air-cooled
sled available in 1975.
Other changes included a jointly developed slide rail
suspension carrying a 15-inch wide cleated track, an
improved seat with a slightly concave butt pocket and
internal tool box, a larger gas tank and a Suzuki snow flap.
But the tunnel, rear bumper, tail light, instrument console,
front suspension, fiberglass belly pan and numerous other
items were carried over from the ’74 Cats. Surprisingly for
a performance sled, a tow hitch was standard equipment.
The headlight was hidden behind the horizontally slotted
grille in the same style as on the 1975 El Tigré models.
Like its Cat half-brother, the Fury was well equipped for
its day with a disc brake, parking brake, speedometer with
odometer, tachometer, padded handlebars, comfortable but
rugged plastic throttle and brake levers, an effective
windshield, rubber bumpers in the ski suspension and
chrome-plated ski shocks.
A bare, aluminum tunnel complimented the new silver
metal-flake hood and silver bellypan. Bright orange and
black trim completed the significant departure from the
blue, white and red color schemes on other Suzuki
About 3,500 Fury snowmobiles were built and sold alongside
the 1975 versions of the existing Suzuki family machines.
But the Fury received minimal promotional support and wasn’t
listed in many of Suzuki’s snowmobile flyers.
As an all-new model, the Fury did get some publicity in
snowmobile publications, but not to the extent many other
models from higher profile brands were covered.
With no Suzuki racing network to exploit the Fury’s
considerable performance capabilities, there is no record of
any competition use. In short, Suzuki hardly promoted this
fast and capable new machine and just let its dealers move
them as best they could.
Despite the industry’s considerable contraction in the wake
of the oil embargo, Kawasaki forged ahead with plans to
become a full-fledged manufacturer of its own sleds. It
began searching for an existing brand to purchase as a
shortcut to establishing a viable dealer network. Arctic Cat
was less than thrilled with the quality and reliability of
these early Kawasaki snowmobile engines, and was actively
In March, 1975, Snow Week carried Arctic President John
Penn’s official announcement of a new engine series for
Arctic Cat snowmobiles beginning with the 1976 model year.
Called the “Spirit” engine, the new powerplant would be
built in multiple versions by Suzuki, then the world’s
largest manufacturer of two-stroke engines with
displacements more than 50cc.
Cat chose Suzuki over two other potential engine suppliers
following three years of testing. After it became clear that
Kawasaki was going to market its own brand of snowmobiles,
the Cat-Suzuki business details were solidified during the
summer of 1974 while Arctic Cat was building the Fury under
Following Penn’s announcement, Suzuki quietly pulled the
plug on its brand, joining half a dozen other companies that
abandoned the snowmobile business after another difficult
and generally unprofitable year. Nothing more was said about
the remaining two years on Arctic’s manufacturing contract
for the Fury.
Soon Suzuki-powered 1976 El Tigrés, Jags and other models
began flowing from Arctic Cat’s assembly lines. The new Jag
was essentially a stripped-down ’74 El Tigré with a 340cc
free air engine. In other words, another variation on the
Suzuki engine in the ’72 EXT chassis theme, just like the
The public announcement of Kawasaki’s acquisition of Sno*Jet
from Conroy Corp. was made on December 1, 1975. Arctic
Enterprises was retained by Kawasaki to assemble its low-end
1976 models, which were simply re-labeled Sno*Jets with Cat
hex drive primary clutches and other minor changes. Arctic
would go on to do limited contract manufacturing for other
brands including Rupp, and the Cat-built 1981 Scorpion
Sidewinder would also use a Suzuki engine.
The Fury — the one-year wonder that hardly anyone knew about
— was the last and best of the Suzuki snowmobiles. More than
that, this little-known and generally forgotten model was
Arctic Cat’s bridge from Kawasaki to Suzuki engines, which
it still uses exclusively in its snowmobiles to this day.
This is how Arctic Cat came to use Suzuki powerplants and
from then on Suzuki decided to be a Snowmobile engine
supplier and not a manufacturer of snowmobiles.