Chaparral Snowmobiles for Sale: Where can You Find One? [+History]


Chaparral snowmobiles were marketed from 1968 through 1974. These innovative sleds utilized several innovative features, many of which were ahead of their time. The latest models were powered by liquid-cooled engines and featured independent front suspensions (IFS) plus a slide-rail rear suspension system. If you are looking for a vintage Chaparral snowmobile for sale or just want to find out more about these iconic machines, this post is for you.

We at PowerSportsGuide compiled all you need to know about Chaparral sleds!

Chaparral Snowmobile History

The history of Chaparral snowmobiles started in Illinois where the company built its first prototypes.

Mass production was finally started in Grand Junction, Colorado and later moved to Denver. Surprisingly, the original name of the company was Snow Birdie while Chaparral was actually the brand name of the entry-level line.

Chaparral snowmobiles hit the market in the 1968 model year. The first lineup consisted of three models and the 1968 Chaparral was available with 300cc and 372cc Hirth engines. These power sources were equipped with Tillotson carburetors and Salsbury clutches.

The third model that year was known as Firebird and had a more powerful, 600cc Hirth engine.

In later years, the manufacturer used many other types of engines like JLO, CCW, Sachs, and Kohler. However, the latest Chaparral snowmobile engines were designed and built in-house.

Chaparral sleds were well known for their advanced features, many of them being ahead of their time. For instance, even the prototype already utilized a disc brake mounted on the driveshaft!

The machines were built on a fiberglass tunnel and had bogie wheel suspensions while their fuel tank was located under the seat.

Besides snowmobiles, the American manufacturer produced minibikes and dirt bikes as well. During the off-season Red Dale campers were also produced in Chaparral’s facility.

By 1969, the company rounded out its snowmobile lineup with six models.

The Chaparral was offered with three engine options (309cc, 372cc, and 618cc, respectively) while the Firebird came with 372cc and 600cc Hirth engines. The new model in the lineup was the Snowgoer, which had a 618cc Kohler engine.

That same year, the company was sold to Armco Steel, which changed the name of the entire brand to Chaparral from the old “Snow Birdie.”

The new owner spent a lot on development and redesigned each model. Thanks to this effort, the 1970 Chaparral snowmobile lineup consisted of 12 models!

The most affordable sled was the Chaparral 300, which was available with a 309cc Kohler and a 372cc Hirth engine.

The more powerful Firebird and Executive line featured 336cc-634cc engines depending on the model.

Just like its competitors, the peak years for Chaparral were arguably the early ‘70s.

The 1971 lineup featured no less than 22 different models with various engine options and features. The new Skylark line replaced the ceased 300 and several new models appeared in the Firebird and the high-end Executive families as well.

For 1972 the Executive line was canceled but two new series, the Chaparral Thunderbird and the Firebird SS were revealed.

A year later the latter was replaced with the SS III, and those models were positioned as “trail performance snowmobiles.” However, the entire Skylark series was dropped, along with many Firebird and Thunderbird models.

As a result of this, the 1973 Chaparral snowmobile lineup shrunk to only 11 machines.

There’s no question that these sleds stood out from the crowd in many ways. Chaparral snowmobiles, but especially the SS family, was famous for their amazing performance and advanced features.

These machines utilized slide-rail suspensions and their engines were placed on top of the tunnel. What’s more, Chaparral was the second manufacturer that released liquid-cooled sleds in 1974.

On top of that, the 1974 Chaparral SSX was among the first sleds that utilized an independent front suspension (IFS).

Thanks to their precise engineering and advanced features, Chaparral snowmobiles did a really good job on racetracks as well. To the delight of many racers and performance-minded riders, these machines were more affordable than the competitor Brut muscle sleds.

They were arguably among the most popular high-end sleds in the early 1970s. According to SnowGoer, more than 40,000 Chaparral sleds were registered in those years.

In the peak period, Chaparral was considered as one of the fastest-growing snowmobile brands in the U.S. Many expected the company to become a market leader in a few years.

But unfortunately, this did not happen, and production of Chaparral snowmobiles was ceased in 1974.

After the golden age, the entire snowmobile industry went into a recession in the mid-‘70s.

The expanding market attracted more than 100 new manufacturers into this business, which resulted in a huge oversupply. Besides, a string of mild winters and high prices also contributed to the declining demand.

Because of this, the majority of snowmobile manufacturers disappeared from the market, and Chaparral was no exception.

Although the entire 1975 lineup was all ready to go, Armco Steel Corporation canceled its entire Chaparral snowmobile line in February 1974.

Chaparral Snowmobile Models

There were many iconic Chaparral snowmobiles manufactured over the years. For your convenience, we’ve done the research and compiled all of them into one list along with their engine specs!

  • 1968
  • 1968 Snow Birdie Chaparral 300 – Engine: 300cc Hirth 55R
  • 1968 Snow Birdie Chaparral 380 – Engine: 372cc Hirth 160R
  • 1968 Snow Birdie Firebird 600– Engine: 600cc Hirth 170R
  • 1969
  • 1969 Snow Birdie Chaparral 300 – Engine: 309cc Kohler K309-1
  • 1969 Snow Birdie Chaparral 380 – Engine: 372cc Hirth 200R
  • 1969 Snow Birdie Chaparral 600 – Engine: 618cc Kohler K618-2
  • 1969 Snow Birdie Firebird 380 – Engine: 372cc Hirth 200R
  • 1969 Snow Birdie Firebird 600 – Engine: 600cc Hirth 170R
  • 1969 Snow Birdie Snowgoer 600 – Engine: 618cc Kohler K618-2
  • 1970
  • 1970 Chaparral 300 – Engine: 309cc Kohler K309-1
  • 1970 Chaparral 380 – Engine: 372cc Hirth 200R
  • 1970 Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 336cc Sachs SA340
  • 1970 Chaparral Firebird 400 – Engine: 399cc Hirth 210R
  • 1970 Chaparral Firebird 440 – Engine: 438cc Hirth 211R
  • 1970 Chaparral Firebird 500 – Engine: 493cc Hirth 220R
  • 1970 Chaparral Firebird 650 – Engine: 634cc Hirth 171R
  • 1970 Chaparral Executive 400 – Engine: 399cc Kohler K399-2
  • 1970 Chaparral Executive 400 – Engine: 399cc Hirth 210R
  • 1970 Chaparral Executive 440 – Engine: 438cc Hirth 211R
  • 1970 Chaparral Executive 500 – Engine: 493cc Hirth 220R
  • 1970 Chaparral Executive 640 – Engine: 634cc Hirth 171R
  • 1971
  • 1971Chaparral Skylark 295 – Engine: 292cc Hirth 193R
  • 1971Chaparral Skylark 340 – Engine: 338cc Hirth 194R
  • 1971Chaparral Skylark 380 – Engine: 372cc Hirth 200R
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 338cc Hirth 194R
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 339cc JLO LR340/2
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 339cc CCW 340
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 400 – Engine: 398cc JLO LR399/2
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 400 – Engine: 398cc CCW 400
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 440 – Engine: 438cc Hirth 211R
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 440 – Engine: 437cc Sachs SA2-440
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 440 – Engine: 436cc CCW 440
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 500 – Engine: 493cc Hirth 220R
  • 1971Chaparral Firebird 650 – Engine: 635cc Hirth 171R
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 340 – Engine: 339cc JLO LR340/2
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 340 – Engine: 339cc CCW 340
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 400 – Engine: 398cc JLO LR399/2
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 400 – Engine: 398cc CCW 400
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 440 – Engine: 438cc Hirth 211R
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 440 – Engine: 437cc Sachs SA2-440
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 440 – Engine: 436cc CCW 440
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 500 – Engine: 493cc Hirth 220R
  • 1971Chaparral Executive 650 – Engine: 634cc Hirth 171R
  • 1972
  • 1972 Chaparral Skylark 250 – Engine: 249cc CCW 248
  • 1972 Chaparral Skylark 295 – Engine: 292cc Hirth 193R
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 338cc Hirth 260R
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 339cc CCW 340
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird 400 – Engine: 394cc Chaparral 400
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird 400 – Engine: 398cc CCW 400
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird 440 – Engine: 438cc Hirth 270R
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 295 – Engine: 292cc Hirth 261R
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 340 – Engine: 338cc Hirth 260R
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 400 – Engine: 399cc Hirth 271 R
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 400 – Engine: 394cc Chaparral 400
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 440 – Engine: 437cc Sachs SA2-440
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 440 – Engine: 438cc Hirth 270R
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440
  • 1972 Chaparral Firebird SS 650 – Engine: 649cc Hirth 280R
  • 1972 Chaparral Thunderbird 340 – Engine: 338cc Hirth 260R
  • 1972 Chaparral Thunderbird 400 – Engine: 394cc Chaparral 400
  • 1972 Chaparral Thunderbird 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440
  • 1972 Chaparral Thunderbird 650 – Engine: 649cc Hirth 280R
  • 1973
  • 1973 Chaparral Firebird 250 – Engine: 249cc Chaparral 248
  • 1973 Chaparral Firebird 295 – Engine: 292cc Chaparral 295
  • 1973 Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 338cc Chaparral 340
  • 1973 Chaparral Firebird 400– Engine: 398cc Chaparral 400
  • 1973 Chaparral Firebird 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440
  • 1973 Chaparral SS III 295 – Engine: 292cc Chaparral 295SS
  • 1973 Chaparral SS III 340 – Engine: 338cc Chaparral 340SS
  • 1973 Chaparral SS III 400 – Engine: 394cc Chaparral 400SS
  • 1973 Chaparral SS III 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440SS
  • 1973 Chaparral Thunderbird 340 – Engine: 338cc Chaparral 340
  • 1973 Chaparral Thunderbird 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440
  • 1974
  • 1974 Chaparral Firebird 295 – Engine: 292cc Chaparral 292
  • 1974 Chaparral Firebird 340 – Engine: 338cc Chaparral 340
  • 1974 Chaparral Thunderbird 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440
  • 1974 Chaparral SSX 340 – Engine: 338cc Chaparral 340
  • 1974 Chaparral SSX 440 – Engine: 432cc Chaparral 440

Chaparral Snowmobiles for Sale

There’s no question that Chaparral snowmobiles are among the most iconic vintage sleds out there. This is why they are still popular among collectors and vintage sled enthusiasts.

If you’re considering buying one, you should start your research on online classified ad sites.

With a bit of luck, you can still find a Chaparral snowmobile for sale on Craigslist, eBay, or other snowmobile classified ad sites.

Furthermore, it’s recommended that you visit some dedicated Chaparral snowmobile forums and FB groups.

Takeaway – FAQs About Vintage Chaparral Snowmobiles

As a takeaway, we’ve listed some of the most frequent questions on vintage Chaparral snowmobiles!

Who Made the Chaparral Snowmobile?

Chaparral snowmobiles were originally made by Powered Products Corp. The company and its subsidiary were acquired by Armco Steel in 1969. It’s a lesser-known fact that the original brand name of Chaparral snowmobiles was “Snow Birdie,” which was changed to Chaparral by Armco Steel.

Why did Chaparral Stop Making Snowmobiles?

Chaparral stopped making snowmobiles because this business was no longer profitable for the company. The mild winters and high oil prices caused by the Arab oil embargo kept buyers away from the showrooms. Shrinking demand and oversupply in the snowmobile market forced Chaparral to close its doors, just like many other competitor manufacturers.

When did Chaparral Stop Making Snowmobiles?

To the greatest regret of many brand-loyal customers, Chaparral stopped making snowmobiles in 1974.

What Years did Chaparral Make Snowmobiles?

Chaparral snowmobiles were made from 1968 through 1974.

References:

Snow Goer

MaxSled Magazine

http://www.snowtravelers.org/download/SledManuals/Vintage/CHAPARRAL/CHAPARRAL_MODELS_1968_1974/CHAPARRAL_MODELS_1968_1974.pdf

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