Massey Ferguson snowmobiles were made from 1968 through 1975 in Des Moines, Iowa under the brand name of Ski Whiz. But the 1976 and 1977 Massey snowmobile lineups were built by Scorpion Inc. thanks to a production agreement between the companies. However, these sleds were no more than rebranded Scorpion models. If you want to learn more about these iconic machines and find out where you can still find one to buy, you are in the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know about vintage Massey Ferguson snowmobiles under one roof!
Massey Ferguson Snowmobile History
The Early Years of Ski Whiz Sleds
The ‘60s brought a huge boom to the snowmobile market, which attracted more than 100 manufacturers into this business. Besides the smaller players, larger brands like Ariens, Harley-Davidson, and their rival John Deere also entered the game.
The Canadian firm Massey Ferguson started to produce their Ski Whiz snowmobiles in 1968. The company was the world’s largest agricultural giant, producing tractors, harvesters, and other agricultural machinery.
The first Massey Ferguson snowmobiles hit the market in 1969 and received a mixed welcome.
The sleds had a boxy “tractor-like” design and seemed outdated compared to the sporty competitor models. It was no accident as these machines were primarily designed for commercial use and built by an agricultural machinery company.
Despite their odd design, the sleds had many advanced systems and features.
For instance, Massey was the first in the industry to use an internal drive track to propel their snowmobiles. This unit was a 15½”-wide molded polyurethane track with a combination lug and hole drive.
According to the manufacturer, these tracks were stretch-free and more durable than regular rubber tracks.
Another industry-first feature of Ski Whiz snowmobiles were the rear-mounted 4¾-gallon fuel tank, which resulted in extended carrying and passenger capacity.
The large seat was 41” long and could accommodate two adults and a child. Thanks to the 6”-thick foam cushion it was soft and comfortable.
The machines also utilized special “crown” (curved) skis that offered easier steering control and were less prone to getting stuck in deep snow.
The skis, and the rear suspension were adjustable based on the load and snow conditions.
The first Ski Whiz sleds were powered by 297cc, 17.5 HP and 372cc, 23.5 HP JLO engines, which came with an electric start as an option. The muffler was tuned to get the most out of the engine.
Both models were 108” long, 32” wide, and 42” high. The smaller Ski Whiz 297 weighed 350 pounds, while the model 380 was 20 pounds heavier.
Keeping easy servicing in mind, the chaincase cover was attached with only one bolt, and the hood featured a front-hinged design.
The windshield was made of a flexible material, so it was less likely to crack. Accessories available included the cover, trailer, and a complete line of clothing.
Massey Ferguson sold the machines through its extensive dealer and distributor network, which also provided parts and servicing for the sleds.
As their utilitarian design suggested, vintage Massey snowmobiles didn’t offer an exciting riding experience. Although their top speed was 50 mph under ideal conditions, they weren’t considered sporty sleds at all.
Instead, they were dependable and reliable workhorses that could take the riders out into the woods or to feed the animals. Because of this, Ski Whiz snowmobiles were marketed primarily as “all-purpose” machines for farmers and families.
On top of that, over the years these tractor-like sleds became less and less competitive in the market.
Redesigned Ski Whiz Snowmobiles
In the early 1970s, competitor sleds were sportier and utilized many advanced features. Compared to these innovative machines, Ski Whiz snowmobiles seemed like underpowered, outdated snow tractors.
Because of this, Massey Ferguson redesigned its entire Ski Whiz lineup for the 1973 model year to make them more appealing.
The new machines had modern rounded lines while still keeping their original shape. Regarding the paint job, the color of the chassis was changed to black, but the hood remained the classic red.
Besides the body, Massey upgraded countless features on the sleds, but the most important ones were as follows:
- Drive belt
- Engine cut-off switch
- Fuel tank
- Handlebar pad
- Passenger handrails
- Side reflectors
- Ski spindles
- Snow flap
- Storage compartment
Thanks to the tweaks on these features and a better design, sales increased by 60 percent. However, success was not lasting.
According to SnowGoer, the main problem of Ski Whiz sleds was still their outdated technologies.
Even if the manufacturer had upgraded these “bells and whistles,” its machines still featured a bogie wheel suspension and metal chassis. Because of this, Massey sleds were still too heavy and offered a poor riding experience.
Another issue was that trail racers became a defining segment of the market and they were obviously not interested in these old-fashioned machines. Because of this, even if Massey Ferguson was a well-known name in the marketplace, their sleds never became successful in races.
Therefore, the brand was often overlooked by the press and often got little to zero media coverage.
Finally, after two not-too-successful years, Massey Ferguson stopped making Ski Whiz snowmobiles in 1974. But surprisingly, the manufacturer remained in the snowmobile business.
Although the competitor manufacturers were disappearing from the market on a daily basis, Massey still believed in a bright future.
Agreement with Scorpion
In 1975, Scorpion Inc. reached an agreement with Massey Ferguson. The agricultural giant now wanted to focus on its major business priorities and was no longer interested in developing new sleds from scratch.
Therefore, the complete 1976 Massey Ferguson snowmobile lineup was built by Scorpion in Crosby, Minnesota.
A two-month negotiation preceded the agreement, and there are rumors that Scorpion built the prototype in only five days to get the deal closed as soon as possible.
This manufacturing agreement was beneficial to both parties as Scorpion had only a small presence in Canada, where Massey primarily marketed its new sleds.
The new lineup was introduced in the fall of 1975 and was marketed throughout the next two years.
As you might assume, these “new Massey snowmobiles” were nothing more than rebranded and slightly redesigned Scorpion models.
The Ski Whiz model name was retired, and the new models were released under the names of Whirlwind, Chinook, and Cyclone.
Surprisingly although the company name contained a hyphen, the sleds were marketed as “Massey Ferguson.”
The Chinook was offered as the entry-level model, powered by a 294cc, 24 HP, fan-cooled Cuyuna engine.
The more powerful Whirlwind was almost identical to the Scorpion Whip. This family-friendly sled featured dual headlights, a straight handlebar, and adjustable leaf spring front suspensions. The hood got a black paint job with red lines.
The Whirlwind was available with 338cc and 428cc, fan-cooled Cuyuna engines, which respectively offered 32 and 40 HP.
Another exciting model in the new lineup was the 1976 Massey Ferguson Cyclone. This model was basically equivalent to the Scorpion Brute.
Scorpion Inc. acquired Brutanza Industries in the mid-‘70s, so the predecessor of the afore-mentioned sleds was actually the legendary Brutanza Brute series.
The high-performance Cyclones were powered by liquid-cooled Cuyuna engines. The 336cc Cuyuna twin offered 40 HP, while the 439cc Cuyuna triple cranked out an amazing 50 HP.
For the 1977 season, the company canceled the latter model, but added the new Storm 440 to the lineup.
The company also launched a new ad campaign in collaboration with Hollywood star Chuck Connors to increase sales.
Unfortunately, despite the catchy ad campaigns and the all-new lineup, Massey Ferguson snowmobiles failed to become competitive.
Besides low sale numbers, the company still had a massive inventory of the old Ski Whiz sleds. These outdated machines weren’t attractive for customers, not even at a depressed price.
On top of that, the lighter winters and the oil crisis caused by the oil embargo hit the snowmobile market hard, and things started to turn bad. Because of these circumstances, Massey Ferguson’s snowmobile division was struggling to stay profitable.
Despite all the efforts the company made, it continued to lose money on this business. To the biggest regret of many fans, Massey Ferguson snowmobiles disappeared from the market after the 1977 season.
However, one of the main reasons this brand lasted so long was its agreement with Scorpion, which lasted from 1975 until 1977. As soon as this agreement expired, Massey Ferguson quit the snowmobile business and never looked back.
Because of the turbulent market, Scorpion also failed to stay afloat and was acquired by the rival Arctic Cat.
Massey Ferguson Snowmobile Models
We’ve done extended research and tried to compile all production Massey Ferguson snowmobiles models into one list:
- 1969 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 297 – Engine: 297cc JLO (17.5 HP)
- 1969 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 380 – Engine: 372cc JLO (23.5 HP)
- 1970 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 300 S – Engine: 292cc JLO (18.5 HP)
- 1970 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 350 SS – Engine: 336cc JLO (22 HP)
- 1970 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 400 SST – Engine: 340cc JLO (24 HP)
- 1970 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 500 SST – Engine: 399cc JLO (28.3 HP)
- 1971 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 300 S – Engine: 292cc JLO (18.5 HP)
- 1971 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 350 SS – Engine: 336cc JLO (22 HP)
- 1971 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 400 SST – Engine: 340cc JLO (24 HP)
- 1971 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 500 SST – Engine: 399cc JLO (28.3 HP)
- 1972 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 300 S – Engine: 292cc JLO (18.5 HP)
- 1972 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 350 SS – Engine: 336cc JLO (22 HP)
- 1972 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 400 SST – Engine: 340cc JLO (24 HP)
- 1972 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 500 SST – Engine: 399cc JLO (28.3 HP)
- 1973 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 300 – Engine: 295cc JLO (21.5 HP)
- 1973 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 340 T – Engine: 340cc JLO (32 HP)
- 1973 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 400 T – Engine: 399cc JLO (36 HP)
- 1973 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 400 WT – Engine: 399cc JLO (36 HP)
- 1973 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 440 T – Engine: 440cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1973 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 440 WT – Engine: 440cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 300 – Engine: 292cc JLO (21.5 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 304 – Engine: 292cc JLO (21.5 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 304 ST – Engine: 292cc JLO (27.5 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 340 T – Engine: 340cc JLO (31 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 344 ST – Engine: 340cc JLO (31 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 400 T – Engine: 399cc JLO (38 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 400 WT – Engine: 399cc JLO (38 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 404 ST – Engine: 399cc JLO (38 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 404 WT – Engine: 399cc JLO (38 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 440 T – Engine: 436cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 440 WT – Engine: 436cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 444 ST – Engine: 436cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1974 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 444 WT – Engine: 436cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 304 – Engine: 292cc JLO (21.5 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 304 ST – Engine: 292cc JLO (27.5 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 344 ST – Engine: 336cc JLO (31 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 340 T – Engine: 336cc JLO (31 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 404 T – Engine: 399cc JLO (38 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 404 WT – Engine: 399cc JLO (38 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 404 ST – Engine: 399cc JLO (38 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 444 T – Engine: 436cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 444 ST – Engine: 436cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1975 Massey Ferguson Ski Whiz 440 WT – Engine: 436cc JLO (40 HP)
- 1976 Massey Ferguson Chinook 300 – Engine: 294cc Cuyuna (24 HP) fan-cooled
- 1976 Massey Ferguson Whirlwind 340 – Engine: 338cc Cuyuna (32 HP) fan-cooled
- 1976 Massey Ferguson Whirlwind 440 – Engine: 428cc Cuyuna (40 HP) fan-cooled
- 1976 Massey Ferguson Cyclone 340 – Engine: 336cc Cuyuna (40 HP) liquid-cooled
- 1976 Massey Ferguson Cyclone 440 – Engine: 439cc Cuyuna (50 HP) liquid-cooled
- 1977 Massey Ferguson Chinook 300 – Engine: 294cc Cuyuna (24 HP) fan-cooled
- 1977 Massey Ferguson Whirlwind 340 – Engine: 338cc Cuyuna (32 HP) fan-cooled
- 1977 Massey Ferguson Whirlwind 440 – Engine: 428cc Cuyuna (40 HP) fan-cooled
- 1977 Massey Ferguson Storm 440 PR/PS – Engine: 428cc Cuyuna (40 HP) fan-cooled
Massey Ferguson Snowmobiles for Sale
Massey Ferguson snowmobiles are still very popular choices of vintage sled fans and private collectors. Unfortunately, they rarely appear in vintage shows and especially on the trails.
So, if you’re considering buying one, be prepared for hard work and a lot of research. If you are lucky, you can find a vintage Massey Ferguson snowmobile for sale on Craigslist, eBay, Snowmobiletrader, or other classified ad sites dedicated to sleds.
Besides these sites, it’s recommended that you visit some Massey Ferguson snowmobile forums, where you can find a lot of valuable info on these sleds, along with some good deals!
Takeaways – FAQs About Massey Ferguson Snowmobiles
As a takeaway, we’ve compiled some of the most common questions about vintage Massey Ferguson snowmobiles under one roof!
What Years did Massey Ferguson Make Snowmobiles?
Massey Ferguson snowmobiles were manufactured from 1968 until 1977. The ‘real’ Massey sleds – the Ski Whiz family – were marketed from 1969 through 1975. In the last two years of production, the Massey snowmobile lineup was nothing but some rebranded Scorpion sleds.
Who Made the Massey Ferguson Snowmobile?
Massey Ferguson made its snowmobiles in-house until 1975, while the 1976 and 1977 lineups were manufactured by Scorpion Inc. in Crosby, Minnesota.
Why did Massey Ferguson Stop Making Snowmobiles?
Massey Ferguson stopped manufacturing snowmobiles because their sleds were not competitive on the market. On the other hand, in the mid-‘70s, a recession hit the entire snowmobile industry, which resulted in low sales figures. Because of poor sales Masse Ferguson closed its entire snowmobile division to focus on the production of agricultural machinery.
When did Massey Ferguson Stop Making Snowmobiles?
Finally, Massey Ferguson stopped making snowmobiles after the 1977 model year.