Brut snowmobiles were among the most powerful “muscle sleds” in the early ‘70s. They were designed and manufactured by Brutanza Engineering Inc. in Brooten, MN. These innovative machines featured the industry’s first liquid-cooled engines and heat exchangers. The two original Brut snowmobiles were offered from 1972 to 1974 when the company was acquired by Scorpion. If you are looking for a vintage Brut snowmobile for sale or just want to read about its history, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled the key facts about these iconic sleds under one roof.
Besides the history of Brut snowmobiles, you can also find out where you might get one!
Brut Snowmobile History
The history of Brut snowmobiles started in 1971 when Brutanza Engineering Inc. was founded in Brooten, MN.
Brooten was a very small town in central Minnesota, but John Bohmer, the president of a local bank had a dream. He wanted to help the local community by creating some new jobs in town.
Since Mr. Bohmer had no experience in manufacturing, he wanted to set up an entire team to build an innovative, high-performance snowmobile.
Surprisingly, the backbone of the new company arrived from the rival Polaris.
The driving force behind the emerging manufacturer was Gerry Reese. He was not only a great engineer who previously worked in the R&D division of Polaris but was also an experienced snowmobile racer.
Reese had many innovative ideas on how to develop more advanced, higher-performance snowmobiles, but these were typically rejected by management. Polaris simply wanted to build sleds for the average customer rather than developing race-inspired muscle sleds.
This frustrated Reese, forcing him to look for new opportunities, so Bohmer’s offer arrived just in time. Besides him, many other engineers moved from Polaris to Brutanza as well, like Gregory R. Grahn, Charlie and Mike Baker, and Marley Duclo.
The team was joined by a few marketing and sales associates and Brutanza Engineering Inc. was born.
Unlike many competitors, Brutanza went a step further with its advanced features, which were ahead of their time.
Introducing Brut Snowmobiles
Production started in 1971 and the first Brutanza snowmobiles hit the market in the 1972 model year.
The first model was referred to as the 1972 Brutanza Brut LC44, which was one of the first mass-produced “muscle sleds” on the market. There’s no question that this innovative machine stood out from the crowd in many ways.
One of the key features of the design was the industry’s first liquid-cooled engine.
At that time, almost all competitor manufacturers used industrial engines made by JLO, Sachs, Hirth, or Kohler. But Burtanza surprised the market by developing its own liquid-cooled snowmobile engine.
Although these “Brooten” engines were designed and assembled in Brutanza’s facility in Brooten, the parts were manufactured by the Japanese Fuji Light Industries. Only the crankcase was made in the U.S. for some reason.
The Brut LC44, as its name suggests, was powered by the liquid-cooled (LC) 439cc triple, which cranked out no less than 50 HP at 7200 RPM!
According to Sledmagazine, this sled was able to hit an incredible top speed of 85 mph, even in stock condition. What’s more, the manufacturer claimed that one of their modified machines hit an unbelievable 118 mph.
In contrast, at that time the fastest competitor sleds could only reach about 60 mph.
The little brother Brutanza Brut LC29 was revealed in 1973. This sled featured a 294cc twin that offered 30 HP.
In the first year, the engines were cooled by a radiator, which was replaced with a heat exchanger for the next season.
This advanced cooling system not only ensured higher performance, but the stable engine temperature also resulted in less risk of plug fouling and piston seizure.
The innovative capacity discharge ignition (CDI) also contributed to higher engine reliability. In the early ‘70s only purpose-built race sleds were equipped with this feature, but Brut snowmobiles came with CDI as standard.
What’s more, these sleds weren’t only fast, but they also generated significantly less noise and offered better handling than competitor models.
The latter was a game-changer as most manufacturers focused solely on how much power their sleds had. At that time, the motto was “the faster, the better,” while the overall handling of the machines were often overlooked.
This was a huge problem as snowmobile trails were very rare in the early 1970s. Therefore, many sledders rode in ditches and other ungroomed areas. As you might assume, this wasn’t always easy with a vintage sled, so the market demand for easier-handling sleds was growing.
That’s why Brutanza snowmobiles utilized a fully adjustable slide-real suspension system, which provided progressive shock action. This unique system allowed the rider to set the shock-absorbing action and the spring tension based on the terrain and the current load. This led to a smooth and outstanding riding experience!
To keep their weight low, Brut snowmobiles were built on an all-aluminum chassis and tunnel, while many other manufacturers were still stuck using steel.
The other hidden advantage of liquid-cooling was that it allowed the engine to sit much lower in the chassis.
What’s more, the engines were not only moved closer to the ground, but they already featured a unique “lay-down” design. Simply put, this meant that the cylinders were placed in a horizontal position, which resulted in a lower center of gravity.
In contrast, the competitors’ air-cooled engines still relied on airflow, so they still featured vertical cylinders.
Because of this new engine position, Brutanza had to redesign the entire steering system. This new configuration allowed the rider to sit forward on the machine, which had a many additional benefits.
This is why this design quickly became the industry standard on snowmobiles.
Regarding tracks, Brutanza snowmobiles utilized a special one-piece molded “Polytrack” manufactured by Gates. These reinforced tracks were designed to handle high engine power and extreme speeds.
The sleds also had a tuned exhaust system, tinted windshield, 5-gallon fuel tank, and brake light. The machines were equipped with many gauges such as a speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temp gauge.
Keeping safety in mind, a shut-off switch with a safety strap was also standard equipment.
Thanks to its advanced features and powerful engines, Brut snowmobiles were very successful in cross county racing and became instantly popular among performance-minded buyers as well.
Sales went well but in the early ‘70s countless new snowmobile manufacturers caused an oversupply. Also, a string of mild winters and high oil prices because of the Arab oil embargo caused the snowmobile market to decline.
The entire snowmobile industry was in trouble and Brutanza also faced financial problems.
On top of that, despite their endless innovative features, Brut snowmobiles had a weak link. Their clutches were not able the handle the high engine RPMs, which often led to failures.
Sure, clutch issues and blown drive belts were everyday issues on snowmobiles, but Brut was famous for having regular clutch problems.
After the 50th serious clutch failure, the insurance company forced Brutanza to make a full recall. It was a final blow for the manufacturer, and the company was sold to Scorpion in 1974. Because of this, the original Brutanza Brut snowmobiles were offered for only three short years.
The new owner kept the design and the well-known model name, so Brutanza sleds were reborn in the new Scorpion Brut line. These competitive sleds were powered with 340cc and 440cc liquid-cooled engines.
The only changes made on these new machines were the different colors as well as the Scorpion handlebars and skis.
By 1976, Scorpion rebranded the line and produced them for Massey Ferguson. These new machines were known as the Massey Ferguson 440 Cyclones and the 340 Marauder.
Although these sleds were basically the same as the 1975 Scorpion Brut family, the legendary “Brut” brand was officially discontinued in 1976.
What happened to the Brutanza team? Gerry Reese moved to the airplane industry to design skis for airplanes while Gregory R. Grahn went back to Polaris. Charlie Baker stayed locally in Brooten and founded a repair business.
Brut Snowmobile Models
Surprisingly, there were only two different Brutanza Brut snowmobiles produced, which were as follows:
- Brutanza Brut LC44 (1972-1974)
- Brutanza Brut LC29 (1973-1974)
For your convenience, we’ve compiled the specifications of these vintage Brut snowmobiles into one chart:
|Model||Brut LC29||Brut LC44|
|Width (“)||33 3/4||33 3/4|
|Height (“)||35 1/2||35 1/2|
|Fuel cap. (gal.)||5||5|
|Dry weight (lbs.)||355||395|
|Track width (“)||15 1/2||15 1/2|
|Fuel mixing ratio||20:1||20:1|
Brut Snowmobiles for Sale
There’s no question that Brut snowmobiles were among the most advanced and most powerful machines on the market. That’s why collectors and vintage sled enthusiasts still have an interest in these iconic sleds.
What’s more, some of them are still running on the trails and even take part in vintage racing!
If you’re considering buying one, the good news is that you can still find a vintage Brut snowmobile for sale on Craigslist, Snowmobiletrader, and on other dedicated sled classified sites.
Furthermore, you may want to visit some Brut snowmobile forums or even Facebook groups. Besides some good deals, you can find a lot of valuable info on these legendary performance sleds!
FAQs About Vintage Brut Snowmobiles
Who made Brut Snowmobiles?
Brut snowmobiles were designed and manufactured by Brutanza Engineering Inc. in Brooten, MN. In 1974 Scorpion acquired the company and in the next year, the sleds were still marketed as the “Scorpion Brut” family. By 1976 the line was completely rebranded and produced for Massey Ferguson.
Why did Brut Stop Making Snowmobiles?
Brutanza stopped manufacturing their iconic Brut snowmobiles mainly due to financial issues. High oil prices and mild winters caused a recession in the snowmobile market, which resulted in poor sales figures. On top of that, the clutches of Brut snowmobiles were prone to failure, so the insurance company forced the manufacturer to recall all of their sleds. To avoid bankruptcy, the company was sold to Scorpion in 1974.
What Years did Brutanza Make Snowmobiles?
It’s safe to say that the original Brutanza Brut snowmobiles were manufactured and available from 1972 through 1974. After the acquisition, Scorpion wanted to keep the brand alive and marketed these sleds as a Scorpion Brut in the 1975 season. But finally, the entire family was rebranded, so by 1976 Brut snowmobiles had disappeared from the market forever.