The first Sears snowmobile appeared in the company’s catalogs in 1961, but this machine was actually a weird Bradley Ice Scooter. It’s safe to say that “real” Sears snowmobiles were introduced in 1966 and marketed until 1972. Although these sleds were released under the well-known Sears brand name, they were built by major snowmobile manufacturers like Polaris, OMC, or Trail-A-Sled. If you want to learn all about Sears snowmobiles and find out where you can find one, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know about vintage Sears snowmobiles into this post!
Sears Snowmobile History
In the 1900s, Sears sold countless products through its catalogs and snowmobiles were no exception.
The history of Sears snowmobiles started in 1961, but most of these sleds were sold from 1966 through 1972. Although sales went well, the company never wanted to become a snowmobile manufacturer.
Instead, Sears sleds were made by six different major snowmobile companies, which were as follows:
- David Bradley 1961-1964
- Robin Nodwell 1965 (Sold only in Canada)
- Trail-A-Sled (Scorpion) 1966-1967
- AMF (Ski Daddler) 1968
- OMC (Johnson, Evinrude) 1969-1971
- Polaris 1972
Many of the production agreements were short-term partnerships between Sears and the manufacturers. This is why the companies behind Sears sleds changed so often!
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and take a closer look at the iconic vintage Sears snowmobile!
Vintage Sears Snowmobile Models
1961 Sears Ice Scooter
The 1961 Sears Ice Scooter was the first snowmobile-like vehicle in the company’s catalog.
As the name suggests, this sled was designed for ice but also did a good job on hard-packed snow. Hence, it was primarily marketed for ice fishermen in the U.S. and Canada.
The machine was designed and built by David Bradley. Because of this, the vehicle was also known as the “David Bradley Ice Scooter” but it was also sold in Canada under the brand name of “Ice Skeeter.”
Whatever it was called, this vehicle was a revolutionary machine in the early ‘60s. It utilized a tubular metal frame that wrapped around a floating housing.
The 1961 Ice Scooter featured an 85cc Clinton-Panther 2½ HP engine that powered a patented gear-driven, center drive wheel. This was actually a simple rubber a tire with a tire chain on it. The system also utilized a spring suspension.
Regarding capacities, the 0.38-gallon fuel capacity offered a cruising range of 50 miles. The carrying capacity of the sled was 350 pounds and topped out at 35 mph under ideal conditions.
Features included a car-like steering wheel, a foldable Plexiglas windshield, and removable runners for easy sharpening.
The Sears Ice Scooter was offered for $199, but an optional set of skis was available for $25.
1966 Sears Snowcruiser
Many riders say that the first real Sears snowmobile was actually the 1966 Snowcruiser. These machines were manufactured by the Michigan-based Trail-A-Sled Inc.
In fact, the 1966 Trail-A-Sled and the Sears Snowcruiser were basically identical, except for the colors and a few small details.
The Snowcruiser was available in three variants:
- Model C-1560 – 15.5” track, manual rewind
- Model C-2060 – 20.5” track, manual rewind
- Model C-2065 – 20.5” track, electric and manual rewind
The machine was 107 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 40½ inches high (about 33 inches without the windshield), so it easily fit in a station wagon.
They were powered by a 2-stroke opposed twin JLO engine that cranked out 10 HP. Thanks to this power source, the available top speed was about 30 mph under ideal conditions.
The fully adjustable rubber track was 15.5” or 20.5” wide depending on the model, and the steel skis utilized leaf spring suspensions and replaceable runners.
Features included a rugged steel body, fiberglass hood, single headlight, removable flexible windshield, well-padded seat for 2 adult riders, seat back compartment, and a large, 5.2-gallon fuel tank.
What’s more, a special wheel kit was also available for the sled as an option, which could be mounted on the skis for dry roads.
1976 Sears Snowcruisers
By 1976, the new Sears snowmobile lineup included two rebranded Scorpion sleds manufactured by Trail-A-Sled Inc.
The basic model was powered by a 2-stroke 252cc JLO engine that produced 10 HP and offered speeds up to 30 mph. It utilized a steel body, a fiberglass hood, a 3½-gallon fuel tank. It weighed only 245 pounds and was propelled by a molded rubber track.
The more powerful variant, namely the 1967 Sears Snowcruiser had a 15 HP engine option. Besides the sleds, Sears also offered a steel trailer for $150.
1968 Sears XSR-1500 Snowcruiser
In 1968, Sears introduced two new snowmobiles under the names of XSR-1500 and XSR-2000 Wildcat. The entire lineup was made by AMF (“Ski Daddler”), who later manufactured the famous Harley-Davidson snowmobiles.
The XSR-1500 was powered by a 2-stroke, air-cooled 15-HP engine that propelled the sled at speeds up to 40 mph. This machine was only 93 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 30 inches high.
The well-padded seat offered place for two adults and was equipped with a backrest.
Standard features included a 3½-gallon fuel tank, rope recoil starter, bogie wheel suspension, 2-amp. generator, a single head and taillight, and a tool kit.
Regarding colors, the blue paint job was completed with white racing stripes.
1968 Sears Wildcat XSR 2000
Performance-minded buyers appreciated the extra power of the Sears SXR 2000 Wildcat. This sled had a more powerful 20 HP electric-start engine that could hit 40 mph.
The body of the vehicle was 113 inches long, 37 inched wide, and 34 inches high. These extended dimensions allowed the Wildcat to even carry three adult riders without any issues.
Unlike its smaller brother, the Wildcat came in red and black colors and with “sports” twin headlights. The extra-wide track was supported by 22 bogie wheels that came in handy in deep snow.
According to the vintage ads, Sir Edmund Hillary even used this snowmobile on his Antarctic expedition!
1969 Sears Model 309
The 1969 Sears snowmobile lineup was manufactured by OMC. Therefore, these sleds were almost identical to Evinrude and Johnson snowmobiles, except for their engines, skis, and hoods.
This all-new lineup included two models, the entry-level Sears Model 309, and the advanced Sears Hillary 399.
The sleds shared the same body that was 90¼ inches long (overall length: 100½ inches) and 32 inches wide.
The standard features of both machines included:
- Sealed beam headlights
- Caliper disc brakes
- Salsbury clutch
- Tillotson HR carburetor
- Tilting steel skis with replaceable runners
- Hinged one-piece fiberglass hood
- Wrap-around chrome bumpers
- Safe “pop-out” windshield
- Well-padded seat with vinyl cover and backrest
- Removable 4-gallon fuel tank
- 15½” or 20½” wide cleated reinforced track
- Tool kit
- 1-year warranty on the engine
The 1969 Sears Model 309 was powered by a single-cylinder K309 Kohler engine that cranked out 18 HP at 5500 RPM.
1969 Sears Hillary 399
The big brother was the more advanced, 1969 Sears Hillary 399, which remained in production until 1971. This machine was named after the legendary Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to conquer Mount Everest.
It was powered by a twin-cylinder, 399cc Kohler K399-2 engine that provided 23 HP.
Besides the standard features of the 309 variant the Hillary 399 had dual headlights, a kickstand, electric start, a wider 20½” wide track, and a spacious storage compartment under the seat.
These Sears snowmobiles proved to be very durable and could outperform their OMC counterparts in hill climbing!
1970 Sears Model 223
As the model name implies, this unit had a 223cc engine that produced 12½ HP. It weighed only 300 pounds and featured a 15” track, manual start, and disk brakes.
Besides the model 223, the mid-range 309 Snowcruiser with 18 HP engine and the 23 HP Hillary were still available until 1971.
What’s more, Sears also offered a sleigh in its catalog, which was a nice addition to the more powerful snowmobiles.
This towable unit featured a six-foot-long fiberglass body, leaf spring suspensions, and aluminum skis. Its carrying capacity was a remarkable 600 pounds, which made this tow sled popular among families.
1972 Sears Sportster
In the 1972 model year, Sears snowmobiles were built by Polaris. Thanks to this production cooperation, new Sears sleds were already backed up by a reputable snowmobile manufacturer’s complete parts and service program.
The lineup contained four models, the Sears Sportster 224, 335, 432, and the 450W with prices ranging from $649 up to $1,300.
All models were powered by bulletproof Polaris Star engines that offered 16 – 30 HP depending on the model. These advanced units featured a Torque-O-Matic clutch, a high voltage ignition system, and a convenient electric start.
The entry-level model in this family was the 1972 Sears Sportster 244, powered by a single-cylinder 244cc Polaris engine that cranked out 16 HP.
Regarding dimensions, the official manual says the overall length of the sled was 101 inches with the skis and measured 30½ inches wide.
Standard features included a rugged steel chassis, 15-inch steel cleated rubber track, slide rail suspension system, “rally-style” seat, hydraulic disc brakes, chrome bumpers, sealed twin headlights, and a 4.8-gallon fuel tank. The retail price of this sled was only $649.
In contrast, Sears offered the more advanced Sears Sportster 335 for a whopping $999.
As the name suggests, this sled was built for sports purposes. Compared to the 224, this sled was 7 inches shorter, which resulted in more lively and agile rides.
This mid-range model had a race-proven 335cc Polaris twin-cylinder engine that produced 24 HP. The tuned exhaust system ensured maximum power with minimum noise.
The 355 shared most features with the Sportster 244, but as an addition, it had a rear seat storage compartment, brake light, passenger handrails, and extra thick foam seat cushion.
The flagship Sears snowmobile in this model year was arguably the Sportster 450W. The vehicle had remarkable dimensions of 108 x 33 x 40 (L x W x H) inches and had a 30 HP 432cc Polaris twin engine.
Surprisingly, unlike its smaller brothers, the track of the Sportster 450W was supported by a bogie-wheel suspension system.
Standard features included a wider 20-inch track, speedometer, leaf-spring front suspensions, hydraulic brakes with brake light, and full-length under-seat storage.
The fourth model in the family was the Sears Sportster 432. This machine got the more powerful 432cc engine option but utilized the smaller 15-inch track.
These sleds were only available in the 1972 model year, and after this season, Sears ceased its entire snowmobile line.
1980 Sears XS22 Sno-Cycle
It’s a lesser-known fact that Sears snowmobiles tried to make a comeback in the late ‘70s with a model named XS22 Sno-Cycle. To be more precise, this machine was a factory-built snow bike rather than a regular snowmobile.
The Sears XS22 Sno-Cycle had a similar design to the competitor Chrysler Sno Runner, however, the latter was significantly larger. There are rumors that these machines shared patents for their tracks, which were granted in 1977.
The Chrysler Sno Runner appeared on the market in the late 1970s, which encouraged Sears to develop a similar machine.
The tiny sled was powered by a 3.7 ci (59cc) engine and featured an extremely narrow, motorcycle-like body.
During development, a few Sno-Cycles were sold to the public for testing purposes.
But there are rumors that the handling of the machine proved to be too dangerous. This was probably why Sears canceled the project before the sled had a chance to get into production.
Because of this, there are only a few Sears XS22 Sno-Cycle prototypes left out there, which are very rarely seen on display in public.
Sears Snowmobile Models
For your convenience we’ve compiled the Sears snowmobile models into one list:
- 1961 Sears Ice Scooter (Engine: 85cc Clinton-Panther 2 ½ HP)
- 1966 Sears Snowcruiser (Engine: 247cc JLO 10 HP)
- 1976 Sears Snowcruiser 10 HP (Engine: 247cc JLO 10 HP)
- 1976 Sears Snowcruiser 15 HP (Engine: 292cc JLO 15 HP)
- 1968 Sears XSR-1500 Snowcruiser (Engine: air-cooled, 15 HP)
- 1968 Sears XSR-2000 Wildcat (Engine: air-cooled, 20 HP)
- 1969 Sears Model 309 (Engine: 309cc, Kohler K309, 20 HP)
- 1969 Sears Hillary 399 (Engine: 399cc, Kohler K399-2, 23 HP)
- 1970 Sears Model 223 (Engine: 223cc, JLO, 12 ½ HP)
- 1972 Sears Sportster 244 (Engine: 244cc, Polaris Star, 16 HP)
- 1972 Sears Sportster 335 (Engine: 335cc, Polaris Star, 24 HP)
- 1972 Sears Sportster 432 (Engine: 432cc, Polaris Star, 30 HP)
- 1972 Sears Sportster 450W (Engine: 432cc, Polaris Star, 30 HP)
- 1980 (?) Sears XS22 Sno-Cycle (Engine: 59cc)
Vintage Sears Snowmobiles for Sale
Sears snowmobiles are popular choices of private collectors and vintage sled enthusiasts. They often appear in shows and sometimes on the trails as well.
Let’s face it, new snowmobiles are really expensive and hard to work on, which is why younger riders turn towards vintage sleds. These basic machines are more affordable and had a much simpler design, which is why they are gaining in popularity!
If you’re considering buying one, you may still find a vintage Sears snowmobile for sale on Craigslist, eBay, SledSwap, Snowmobiletrader, and other snowmobile classified ad sites.
Also, it’s recommended that you visit Sears snowmobile forums or Facebook groups where you also can find some good deals.
Takeaways – FAQs About Sears Snowmobiles
As a takeaway, we’ve compiled the most common questions about vintage Sears snowmobiles under one roof!
What Years did Sears Make Snowmobiles?
Sears snowmobiles were offered from 1961 until 1972, but they tried to make a comeback in the late ‘70s. Unfortunately, this model never reached mass production.
Who Made the Sears Snowmobile?
Sears snowmobiles were manufactured by many different companies like David Bradley, Robin Nodwell, AFM, Polaris, OMC, and Trail-A-Sled.
Why did Sears Stop Offering Snowmobiles?
Sears stopped offering snowmobiles because of the recession of the snowmobile market. In the early ‘70s the high oil prices and light winters resulted in poor sales figures.
When did Sears Stop Offering Snowmobiles?
Finally, Sears snowmobiles disappeared from the market after the 1972 season.