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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In your mind what is the best 90s sled that is 500cc and under for a vintage run/race? Mods are acceptable as long as its under 500cc.
 

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In your mind what is the best 90s sled that is 500cc and under for a vintage run/race? Mods are acceptable as long as its under 500cc.
Define best. Fastest? Most reliable? Best handling? Easy to obtain? Easiest to modify for performance? Easy to get parts for/repair? Best bargain?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Define best. Fastest? Most reliable? Best handling? Easy to obtain? Easiest to modify for performance? Easy to get parts for/repair? Best bargain?
Quickest, best handling, lightweight, easy to modify. Thinking like a cross country, sno cross sled to beat the piss out of. Can't be a factory race sled.
 

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1997 ZR 440, hands down. That year ZR 440 was the only year that the factory race sled was a full production model...kind of like how the ZR 6000 RXC has been available to the consumer the last few years. I ran one for years. It was a little finicky but it was one hell of a fun sled. The handling and suspension was top notch for its time and the engine was a 90 hp screamer....man, I have alot of good memories with that machine. I recommend 97 specifically because they were and still are the most commonly available because of it being a full production model and most parts should be fairly easy to obtain for it.
 

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1997 ZR 440, hands down. That year the factory race sled was a full production model...kind of like the ZR 6000 RXC has been the last few years. I ran one for years, a little finicky but it was one hell of a fun sled though. The handling and suspension was top notch for its time and the engine was a 90 hp screamer....man, I had alot of good memories with that machine. I recommend 97 specifically because they were and still are the most commonly available because the fact it was a full production model and most parts should be fairly easy to obtain for it.
Yup, it's got my vote too. Plastic skis, long travel tunnel, Suzuki Screamer....
 

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We also have a 98 ZR 500 in the fleet in addition to the 97 ZR 440 and one of those would be a good contender as well. The suspension isn't quite as trick as the ZR 440's but it is more then capable and the 500 engine was a total overachiever.
 

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We also have a 98 ZR 500 in the fleet in addition to the 97 ZR 440 and one of those would be a good contender as well. The suspension isn't quite as trick as the ZR 440's but it is more then capable and the 500 engine was a total overachiever.
The 97 and 98 zr440 would clean the 500s clock. A 98 zr2 440 is a rare sled. The zr500 was way over rated. It was the first sled I snow checked with my own money when I was a teenager.
 

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I thought ours went pretty good, it felt stronger then the ZR 440 but that's probably because its louder, rougher and a seemed to have considerably more torque down low. My old man used to give guys with bigger displacement fits with that ZR 500 back in the day...but we also live in the east where it's all tight, twisty technical woods trails....not much all out running at all.
 

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I only know vintage OUTLAW class for drags.... And those must be leaf spring...... And Nothing beats the Cat Sno Pro 440 or the Rotax 454.... at 145 hp built.... at close to 10K RPM.... They take on 600-700 sleds built correct !!!
 

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REAL HP for vintage is in the OLD, OLD !! 440 Z...............

Copy paste....
92 prowler Z 93 zr , 94 and 95 all used the same engine. Prowler Z and Prowler engines are not the same. Prowler, Cougar, and Jag Liquid use a totally different engine.

The 93 580 had a single port and the 94 EXT 580 had a single port cylinder. 94 ZR 580 went to triple port. 95 EXT 580 went to the triple port cylinders. They will miss match.

The 550 is a single port from what I know also. Just a under bored first series 580 single port. So a long story short you can bolt all the cylinders on to the same crank case.

So when you when you buy 580 cylinders you have to make sure if your engine is a single or triple port if you are just buying one. If your are buying a cylinder for a Prowler Z or a ZR up to 96 440 you have to make sure you got the cylinders also.

The 96 and 97 zr 440 is a case reed engine. NOT THE SAME as the 500 and 600 ZR in 98 I do belieave they have a different stroke.
98 sno pro had power valves that has the same crank as the 96,96 98 zr. They made 2 different ZR 440's in 98. The 98 SNO PRO 440 ZR was the race sled. That had power valves. That is what everyone calls a SNO PRO 440. Then they made in 98 a non power valve sled with the 96 and 97 engine in it. That was in the 98 500 and 600 chassis. That had the front arm adjuster on it also. That came with what they called the cross country package. I think that was standard. The 600 zr came in limited number cross country package. It was only green and a EFI. They made limited 600's with out the cross country package but the hoods were black, green, or white. They did not have the piggy back shocks or the front arm adjuster.

99 SNO PRO I think had a different stroke then the 98 SNO PRO. I am not a 100% on this, but I think it is the same as the 500 and 600 bottom end. I honestly don't know. I do know the 98 crank is the same as 96 and 97 because I blew my 97 up it ruined the rod and I used a 98 SNO PRO bottom end

I see a ton of 99 sno pros for sale. I hardly ever see a 98 sno pro for sale. I think they made more 99's then 98 sno pros. I do not know the build number. I heard 500 min built for race rules. I know in 98 to get a SNO PRO race sled was like pulling teeth not everyone could get one. 99 they must of loosen the reins a little. I know lots of people that had them.

All the 440 ZR's and SNO PRO's Used 34mm from 97 and up. The 96 zr 440 the green one with the green seat black splash. That had the old ZR air box and used 38mm carbs.
 

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Excellent info Team Rotax, my father was almost going to buy a Prowler Special in 1991, which the salesman talked him out of because the engines were "blowing up left and right", so Im assuming that must have been the hotter 440cc engine that was used later in the Prowler Zs and the early ZR 440s? And I have noticed the same thing about the 1999 Sno Pros - they are very common to see for sale used and a 98 comes along once in a blue moon. Ive read in many places that the 99 Sno Pros had alot of issues with their exhaust valves (since the 98 and 99 had non servo controlled valves unlike any other Cat that had exhaust valves ever since)...I assume the 98s had issues as well with them?
 

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97 ZR 440's or the 98 consumer ZR 440 are the one to get if you can since they were sold to consumers there are parts available, unlike the 98 & 99 Sno Pro's
 

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I wrote that cut and paste over on vintagesleds website I think it was?? About the 440's . Anyways my choice for the best 500 classic/vintage sled years you listed. Would be the 98 zr 500. has maybe the most HP out of all the 440-500 sleds in that time frame. They built a ton of them. The engine is bullet proof. They had the same engine as a ZL. You can move them up and down stock classes if your are racing ice or drag. Better grass racer because the shorter distance the tracks grass is 500 and ice is 660 feet. I know talk about make tracks shorter and places do 200 and 300 foot drag races because guys don't have to spend money to be competitive. Making HP takes money. Smaller engines will stay with bigger bored stuff up to a certain distance then hp takes over. That is why the talk of short drag strips. You could put the sled on grass in the stock 500, 600 single pipe, 600 triple pipe and 700 single pipe class and be competitive. Lots of room to jump classes with the 500cc sled. Really the best zr 500 be the 97 1/2 demo they built for people get the itch to by the new models coming out in 98. The demos had a little bit better timing curve had little more power than the 98 version of the zr 500. Not much power difference between the 500 and the 600 engine. 98 and 99 zr 500 is the same sled think just the decals and the seat. The zl had a different suspension than a zr. ZL the skid was a little bit different think it was the rear axle had 3 wheels vs 4 to cheapen the cost. I would have to look to make sure. The front A-arms are different and shocks where throw away cheap shocks . Far as engine goes its the same as the zr.
The el tigre 6000 500cc liquid are really good drag sleds in the right hands. Thing is they are little heavy and are put up against the 77 srx and the 76 sno twister liquids. Your out gunned the 77 srx 440 I think had like 109hp out of the box. The twister where just so light. The el tigre 6000's might have low 90's hp not really sure what the stock hp was. I know two guys that run a 81 el tigre and a sno twisters/77 srx. Greg Childs 81 el tigre 6000 I would put that up against about anyone in that mod stock class. He wins a lot. The engine porting and pipes were done by Larry Coltrom. Look him up ;) Greg put plates on top and bottom of the engine to hold the cylinders on. The cylinder ears that bolt the cylinder to the case. On the el tigre are weak they will break off when you put compression and hp to it. That sled has been a drag sled I think from day one. I seen it race a lot of races for 30 plus years Dave Groth has twisters and srx's was part of the reason 15 year ruling I do believe. That had to do with IFS sleds and leaf spring sleds? I'll ask him what all that was about some time. I know Dave hasn't raced for years. He has someone else runs one of his trail twisters. You get in against some stuff like those guys have. You don't stand a chance as a young drag racers. Dave's got a 74/75 400 sno pro sno twister that was factory racer. Only like 2 or 3 of those engines even around anymore and not many where built in the first place. The Canadian srx which I didn't know until talking to him they are different than the American ones. Not just the paint and the decals.
81 and 84 el tigres are the ones everyone races. 82 and 83 cat was out of buisness. The 84 is the same exact sled as the 81 just different decals. Cat only made 2 models in 84 El tigre and the Panther when they came back and total of 1500 sleds I think it was. So 84's are pretty rare. I been seeing a few of 84's pop up here and there for sale off and on. So I am thinking cat made more 84 el tigres than the Panthers.
Your best bet would be to find a zr 500. If the rules would allow a 03 F5 fire cat be my first choice. Fire Cat is a reason the cut off line is at 2000. I don't think that ruling will change for a while. clear my throat Ski Doo guys don't want them in there. 😉
With anything you have to put the test time in. Guys that win put hours and hours into set up. You stay in the stock classes get your feet wet. You don't have to spend a lot of money. Just spend time on knowing your sled and getting it to perform at its best all the time. You will place in a lot of races. You can't win by sitting at home. A kid won a few years back a big race. Guys where like well such and such wasn't there or this guys sled didn't start. Well he showed up and his sled that day ran the best to take the win. So get out there race, have fun make new friends and learn new things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks I appreciate all the info! Yeah I'm 26 about to deploy and I'm looking at broadening my collection of sleds when I get back. Currently I have a 2001 Mountain Cat 1000 144 and a 2011 XF 1100 Turbo. I think I'll look out for a 80s El Tigre just have a vintage sled from the 80s. I'll definitely go the ZR 500 route then. So it sounds 97-98 non power valve 500 engine is what you want. Does the chassis make a difference as far like a crosscountry/snocross type race? Note: this is just for racing at the clubs track a couple times a year. Once 2023 hits I'll be running a F5.
 

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If your drag racing you don't want all the fancy cross country shocks. Adds weight and the extra travel is not needed. Your going to slam it low to the ground anyways. Just a standard 98 or 99 zr 500 will work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
If your drag racing you don't want all the fancy cross country shocks. Adds weight and the extra travel is not needed. Your going to slam it low to the ground anyways. Just a standard 98 or 99 zr 500 will work.
No It would be for crosscountry/circuits/lake racing. My mountain cat 1000 is for drags. I have bearcat clutches and lightweight stuff on that. I need to find either tigershark 1100 cylinders, a 1270 hooper, or get my stock 1000 cylinders ported.
 
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