The History of Polaris Snowmobiles

With the wind blowing against your cheeks as you tear through a snow-blanketed meadow, nothing quite matches the thrill of a snowmobile ride. Polaris is a leading American manufacturer of snowmobiles, and it has a distinguished history.

  1. Beginnings

    • Polaris evolved from the firm of Hetteen Hoist & Derrick, a company that manufactured industrial equipment.

    The First Machine

    • The first Polaris snowmobile was built in January 1956 by David Johnson, Paul Knochenmus and Orlen Johnson. They used a grain elevator belt for a track and pieces of a Chevrolet bumper for skis.

    Comet Crisis

    • The Comet was Polaris' first front-engine snowmobile, built in the 1960s. Prototypes performed well, but production models suffered from numerous defects. The company's decision to buy back defective Comets pushed Polaris to the brink of bankruptcy.

    A Leader in Racing

    • The 1970s brought the "Midnight Blue Express," Polaris' factory race team that would come to dominate snowmobile racing during the decade.

    A Leader in Innovation

    • Success in racing brought new technologies for Polaris to adapt to in production models. Two notable examples include the development of a reliable liquid-cooled engine and the development of independent front-end suspension.

    Polaris Today

    • Polaris snowmobiles continue to be a leader in technological innovation. Their 2010 lineup includes two- and four-stroke models, as well as a turbo four-stroke option.

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