Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
GRAVENHURST – Eric Foss owns 16 classic snowmobiles, and had he three of them at the Muskoka Wharf Saturday afternoon as part of vintage snowmobile display.
It’s the Aurora car dealer’s hobby, one he admits is cheaper than collecting old cars.
A couple of the sleds he brought up were real beauts.
A gorgeous, gleaming yellow 1965 Ski-Doo, by Bombardier, worth a steal at about $1,500.
He picked it up — and a pair of other 1974 and 1975 Elite Ski-Doos (his third and fourth) — from Wisconsin recently.
One is a rare two-seater, originally from Quebec, where he says they were early adopters of the snow machines as workhorses and play toys.
Foss, 56, who grew up in Oak Ridges, has been a sledding fan since he was 8.
He loves talking to people about his machines and going to similar shows all winter, including one a few weeks ago at Bayview Wyldwood, on Sparrow Lake. And he is looking forward to a two-day trip to Magnetawan in a couple weeks, where he can also visit his brother and ride his prized possessions.
“I’ve had so much fun with them. So many afternoons of fun,”
He “really enjoyed the good old days” when his parents would take the family out in nearby public lands and set up a small campfire with friends. The dads would take off over the nearby hills, racing and jumping, while his mother would cook hot dogs for the families.
As the day wore on the men would be begin jumping bigger and bigger hills.
Foss says while the old machines broke down a lot, they were simpler to fix than today. But they were well-maintained and if set up properly beforehand quite reliable.
He said they sat lower to the ground, and even if they didn’t have today’s modern suspension, they were easy to maneuvre as you shifted your weight back and forth as you rode through deep snow.
His were among about 30 to 40 snowmobiles on hand at Cockburn Squre, including one with an open cowling that had never had gas in it or been fired up, said Foss.
They ranged in style and age from Ski-Doos to old old Arctic Cats, Mercs and 40-year-old racing machines.
All of them in relatively good working older. One glistening black and silver 2000 Arctic Cat looked newer than when it was purchased.
The early machines didn’t have odometers so it’s hard to say how many miles they had on them.
But these weren’t among the large number of puddle jumpers being fished out across town in Gull Lake every few minutes in the morning.
And while they wouldn’t set any speed records further out on Lake Muskoka at the radar run, they would sure be fun to ride.
Foss says he takes all 16 of his machines out at least once a winter for a short ride.