Chrysler Sno Runner was a narrow-tracked machine that was marketed from 1979 through 1982. It’s safe to say that this machine was the forerunner of today’s widely popular snow bikes. Thanks to its compact design, it weighed far less than a regular snowmobile and could fit in the trunk of most cars. If you want to learn all about this iconic machine, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know about these vintage sleds under one roof!
Without further ado, let’s start with a great Chrysler Sno Runner review:
What is a Chrysler Sno Runner?
The Chrysler Sno Runner is arguably one of the smallest tracked snow vehicles ever built. It was a small motorcycle-like machine featuring a tiny engine, narrow track, and a single front ski. Although the vehicle was slightly larger than the competitor Sears XS22 Sno-Cycle, the Sno Runner could fit in the trunk of a car thanks to its portable design.
The History of Chrysler Sno Runners
The history of the Chrysler Sno Runner goes back to the mid-‘70s. At that time, Chrysler faced a series of financial crises and was continuously searching for new income sources.
The blooming powersport vehicle market aroused the company’s interest, and in 1977 started working on the prototype of the Sno Runner. Surprisingly, although it was a snow machine, the Sno Runner was designed and built by Chrysler Marine Division.
The iconic Chrysler Sno Runner was available from 1979 through 1982. According to SnoRunner.com, about 28,000 of these units were sold before Chrysler ceased its production due to low sales figures and volatile financial situations.
About 4,000 remaining units were purchased by COMB, which were sold under the “SnoRabbits” brand name for $299 each.
How Did the Sno Runner Work?
It’s safe to say that the Sno Runner worked pretty much the same way as the increasingly popular snow bike. The machine was propelled by a narrow track on the rear and controlled by a steerable front ski connected to laid-back handlebars.
The main advantage of this vehicle was its simple engine and features, which resulted in easy maintenance and low operating costs. It was built on a welded aluminum frame and utilized a tiny air-cooled 2-stroke engine.
But when it came to the riding experience, it was not as good as its advertisements promised. Why?
First, this tiny snow vehicle could only be used on flat, hard-packed surfaces. Although it ran well in perfectly groomed trails, in deep snow, it proved almost useless. Why?
Simply put, the track was too narrow and the ski didn’t provide sufficient grip and buoyancy in powder.
Besides, the Sno Runner was also pretty unstable, especially on slush and ice. On slippery surfaces, both ends of the vehicle were prone to quickly lose traction resulting in risky situations.
Let’s see what the original ads said about this unique machine:
“Sno-Runner’s your own personal fun machine. Surprisingly affordable. Nimble. Lively. Responsive. Sno-Runner goes where you want to go. With gusto. Low slung saddle. Laid back handlebars. High and low beam sealed headlamp. Bright taillight. Footpegs. Hand operated throttle and brake controls. With over 3 hours of go in the tank.
You can stow Sno-Runner in your car trunk. When the road runs out, Sno-Runner comes out. Five quick release pins are all that stand between you and a fully assembled Sno-Runner. In 5 minutes, you’re Sno-Runnin’.”
“Sno-Runner is built of tough stuff. Welded aluminum frame and steel suspension parts. Fiberglass reinforced skis. Wide nickel-plated chain drive track with 21 molded cleats for snow-grabbing traction. And it’s powered by a proven air cooled two-cycle engine – a real workhorse. Where you point Sno-Runner is your business. Down a tight winding forest trail. Up a hill with a skier in tow. … But wherever the urge – or need – pulls you, this winter Sno-Runner is the way to go.”
Chrysler Sno Runner Review
Chrysler Sno Runner Engine
The Chrysler Sno Runner engine was a 134cc, 2-stroke Chrysler Marine Power Bee 820 unit. The standard Chrysler Sno Runner produced a moderate 7 HP, while the more advanced limited-edition model cranked out 10 HP.
This small air-cooled, single-cylinder engine had been produced by West Bend before Chrysler acquired the company in the ‘60s.
Standard features included a Tillotson 320A carburetor, CD ignition, chrome-plated cylinder bores, aluminum pistons, stainless-steel reed valves, automatic centrifugal clutch, and a manual start.
Although the Sno-Runner was well-known for its excellent fuel economy, it got many complaints about its carburetor saying that it couldn’t feed the engine with sufficient air at higher altitudes.
On top of that, the engine was exposed to the elements. This was a big problem, as there was always a risk that powdery snow would clog the air filter. When this happened, it left the engine without lubrication, which could end in a seizure.
Chrysler Sno Runner Top Speed
According to vintage ads, the Chrysler Sno Runner offered a top speed of 25 mph “under ideal conditions.” Let’s face it, “ideal conditions” meant well-groomed trails on flat areas, as the Sno Runner offered poor performance on hills and in deep snow.
But let’s face it, this machine wasn’t intended for performance-minded riders.
Instead, it was a “budget sled” built using cheap and inadequate parts, mainly because of cost reduction. Many riders say that one of the most significant drawbacks of the Sno Runner was its restrictive exhaust, which dramatically decreased engine performance.
Chrysler Sno Runner Dimensions
Compared to other snow machines, the Chrysler Sno Runner was extremely small, as it was only 93” long, 27” wide, and 33” high. The dry weight of the machine was as low as 72 pounds, so one man could lift it.
Let’s move on and take a closer look at the standard features of the vehicle!
Chrysler Sno Runner Features
There’s no question that the key feature of the Sno Runner was its compact and portable design, which made it easy to store and transport in the trunk of a car.
The machine was designed to be taken apart quickly, so its three major components were connected with five quick-release pins.
The Sno Runner was built on arugged welded aluminum alloy frame, which ensured rigidity but was also pretty lightweight. It also came with a tiny 1.3-gallon fuel tank integrated directly into the frame.
Although this fuel capacity doesn’t seem like much, it was enough for up to 3 hours of riding.
The engine lacked oil injection, so riders had to deal with pre-mixing gas and oil.
The fuel hose featured quick connectors, allowing the fuel tank and the engine to be separated from each other in a second.
The chain drive gripper track was only 3-1/8” wide and 63” long and featured 21 molded drive cleats and an adjustable suspension. For more protection, the whole assembly was covered with a high-impact polyethylene housing.
The convenient hand brake was controlled by a handlebar lever, but unlike regular snowmobiles, the Sno Runner utilized a motorcycle-like twist-grip throttle.
For better grip, the machine featured a unique “positive steering front ski” designed to dig into the snow in the turns. Besides this front ski, an additional center ski was mounted under the machine directly behind the footrest. Both skis were made of durable glass-reinforced molded nylon.
The footrest was adjustable in four positions based on snow depth and the size of the rider.
The adjustable sealed beam headlight and taillight (with stoplight) were powered by a 90W alternator. Therefore, the lamps were always on when the engine was running. For increased safety, the frame was also equipped with some side reflectors.
The well-padded seat was covered with durable vinyl upholstery. Compared to the overall size of the vehicle, it was surprisingly large and offered great comfort.
The 1982 Chrysler 6003SR Sno Runner was an upgraded model that came with many advanced features, but the most important ones were as follows:
- Special high-performance exhaust
- Larger carburetor
- Different gearing
- Larger seat with a small storage compartment
- Strengthened frame
- Belt-driven track
- Yellow paint job
Besides these, the other features of the machine remained unchanged. Unfortunately, even these advanced features weren’t able to save the model.
Finally, to the greatest regret of many fans, Chrysler Sno Runners disappeared from the market after the 1982 model year.
Chrysler Sno Runner Specs Chart
For your convenience, we’ve compiled the key numbers into this Chrysler Sno Runner Specs chart:
|Engine type||Power Bee 820|
|Bore x stroke (“)||2.51 x 1.62|
|Choke||Manual, lever type|
|Number of cylinders||1|
|Track length (“)||63|
|Track width (“)||3 1/8|
|Fuel capacity (gal.)||1.3|
|Air cleaner||Self-cleaning foam|
For informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.
How Much is a Chrysler Sno Runner?
Although production was ceased in 1982, you can still find some great Chrysler Sno Runners for sale on the used market.
But be careful, as the prices vary widely depending on the year and the condition!
As a rule of thumb, the price of a vintage Chrysler Sno Runner ranges from $500 up to a whopping $15,000. These prices may be surprising, but don’t forget, you always get what you pay for. For a few hundred dollars, you can expect a machine in poor condition, while the restored models typically sell for thousands of dollars.
Chrysler Sno Runner for Sale
Chrysler Sno Runners are still popular among vintage sled enthusiasts and private collectors. If you are in the market for one, be prepared for a lot of research, as they rarely appear on the market.
However, if you are lucky, you may be able to find a vintage Chrysler Sno Runner for sale on Craigslist, eBay, Snowmobiletrader, and other dedicated snowmobile classified ad sites.
Besides these ad sites, you may want to visit some auction sites like Hemmings or Classic.com.
You also can’t go wrong by checking out a dedicated Chrysler snowmobile forum or even FB groups. You can find lot of helpful information on these sites along with some potential deals!
Takeaways – What Happened to Crysler Sno Runners?
As a takeaway, we’ve compiled the most common questions about Chrysler Sno Runners:
What is a Chrysler Sno Runner?
The Chrysler Sno Runner is a motorcycle-like tracked vehicle designed for traveling on snow.
What Years did Chrysler Make the Sno Runner?
Chrysler Sno Runners were marketed from 1979 through 1982.
Who Made the Sno Runner?
The Chrysler Sno Runner was engineered and designed by Chrysler Marine Division.
How Much is a Chrysler Sno Runner?
Vintage Chrysler Sno Runners sell for about $500-$15,000 depending on the model year and condition.