Dauphin snowmobiles were manufactured from 1969 through 1972 in Grand’Mere, Quebec, Canada. The company also produced sleds for J.C. Penney, Dufrane Motors, and B.C.A. Auto. Finally, Dufrane Motors acquired the assets of Dauphin after it went bankrupt in 1972. If you want to learn all about these vintage machines and find out where you can still find one, you are in the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know about vintage Dauphin snowmobiles into this post!
Dauphin Snowmobile History
Dauphin snowmobiles were produced by Les Industries Dauphin Ltd. from 1969 to 1972. The company was established in Grand’Mere, Quebec and at the beginning, it employed about 200 people and manufactured 50-55 units daily.
At first glance, Dauphin was just one of the countless manufacturers who built replicas of the extremely popular Ski-Doo snowmobiles. But unlike its smaller competitors, the company surprised the market and built a remarkable dealer network in Canada and in the northern states of the U.S.
What’s more, Dauphin also built sleds for J.C. Penney’s under the brand name of Manhandler.
In 1970, the rapidly growing company acquired the assets of its part supplier, known as Somovex.
The production of Dauphin snowmobiles started in late 1969 with three models that had 12 – 19 HP engines. However, the majority of these iconic purple sleds were sold throughout 1970-1971.
The 1970 Dauphin snowmobile lineup contained 11 models, each powered by popular Hirth engines from 246cc up to 634cc.
The Standard models utilized 246cc or 292cc single-cylinder engines that cranked out 11.5 – 19 HP depending on the model. These sleds also had a manual start and a single headlight.
In contrast, nearly all models in the De Luxe line except the 190E were powered by twin engines. These 292cc – 643cc Hirth engines offered 19 – 36 HP and came with an electric start as an option.
These machines were also distinguished by their white belly pans and twin headlights.
The key features of these new Dauphin snowmobiles were their disk brake and advanced “Eastern” drive clutch, which replaced the less-innovative Power Bloc clutch.
This was a huge improvement as Eastern clutches proved to be more reliable, which was a game changer for customers.
Besides their innovative features, vintage Dauphin snowmobiles stood out from the crowd with their royal purple and white paint job and the frequently used dolphin logo. Their well-padded seats often featured a complex design utilizing the same color scheme and the iconic dolphin symbol on certain models.
In 1970, the company re-introduced the kid-size Somovex Chimo under the brand name of Dauphin Flipper, but unfortunately the machine never reached full production.
For the 1971 season, Dauphin snowmobiles didn’t have any major changes except some design tweaks.
According to Snowgoer, Dauphins were not known for their high performance or smooth riding experience. Instead, they were durable and dependable machines designed for the average rider.
It’s safe to say that 1971 was the biggest year for the company. Besides Penney, another giant retailer – Grant’s Stores – also started to market Dauphin sleds.
What’s more, Dauphin also produced the “Sno-Chief” snowmobile line for Dufrane Motor Distributors. Therefore, the 1971 Sno-Chief models were basically identical to their Dauphin counterparts. In 1972 Dufrane ordered these sleds with different tracks and JLO engines.
During that same year Dauphin also started to build sleds for the Canadian company B.C.R. Auto. This series was the lesser known 1972 Super Star snowmobiles, which were basically Dauphin sleds with a blue paint job and Kohler/CCW engines.
But unfortunately, by 1972 things were going badly, which caused Dauphin to go bankrupt. The assets of the company were acquired by Dufrane Motors who moved production from Canada to Malone, New York.
Dauphin Snowmobile Models
Over the years, the company released many iconic models, but the most well-known Dauphin snowmobile models were as follows:
- 1970 Dauphin D1150
- 1970 Dauphin D2400
- 1970 Dauphin D6000 (race model, triple engine)
- 1970 Dauphin Flipper (mini sled)
- 1971 Dauphin 115 (Standard)
- 1971 Dauphin 150 (Standard)
- 1971 Dauphin 190 (Standard)
- 1971 Dauphin 190E (De Luxe)
- 1971 Dauphin SS 399 (De Luxe)
- 1971 Dauphin 240 (De Luxe)
- 1971 Dauphin 240 E (De Luxe)
- 1971 Dauphin 280 (De Luxe)
- 1971 Dauphin 280 E (De Luxe)
- 1971 Dauphin 360 (De Luxe)
- 1971 Dauphin 360 E (De Luxe)
Vintage Dauphin Snowmobiles for Sale
These iconic purple sleds are popular choices among vintage sled enthusiasts as well as private collectors.
If you’re considering buying one, you can still find a vintage Dauphin snowmobile for sale on Craigslist, eBay, Sledswap, Snowmobiletrader, or other snowmobile classified ad sites.
Also, you can’t go wrong by visiting some auction sites or forums/FB groups dedicated to the Dauphin snowmobiles. Besides some potential deals, you can also find a lot of useful information on these sleds!
Takeaways – What Happened to Dauphin Snowmobile?
As a takeaway, we’ve compiled the most common questions about vintage Dauphin snowmobiles!
What years did Dauphin make snowmobiles?
Dauphin snowmobiles were manufactured from 1969 through 1972.
Who made the Dauphin snowmobile?
Dauphin snowmobiles were manufactured by the Canadian Les Industries Dauphin Ltd. The company also built sleds for J.C. Penney, Dufrane Motors, and B.C.R. Auto.
What happened to Dauphin snowmobile?
Dauphin snowmobiles disappeared because its manufacturer, Les Industries Dauphin Ltd. went bankrupt in 1972. In the ‘70s poor snow conditions and mild winters pushed the entire snowmobile industry into recession. What’s more, in those years countless new snowmobile manufacturers caused a huge oversupply. Because of this, many snowmobile manufacturers disappeared from the market, and Dauphin was no exception.