1981 Arctic Cat El Tigré 6000


Through the 70′s Arctic Cat had enjoyed considerable success on the track with their racing sleds and also on the trails with their consumer snowmobiles. In 1981 that all changed when Arctic Cat, one of the giants in the snowmobile industry, declared bankruptcy. Somewhat ironically in the same year they released their best leaf spring performance muscle sled in the 1981 El Tigré 6000.

The history of the 6000 began in 1978 when Arctic Cat released its first liquid cooled production snowmobile. A 440cc Suzuki engine provided smooth power and aided by a chassis with a low center of gravity, the 6000 proved to be a solid performer.

Steady refinements were made to the basic make-up of the sled as the 6000 matured. The 1981 edition increased the engine size to 500cc and paired with larger Mikuni VM38′s the Suzuki liquid now boasted a true 85 hp.

The increased power meant abandoning the ubiquitous hex clutch that had adorned most Arctic Cats for the better part of a decade. A new clutch combination using a Comet 102c primary and Arctic’s reverse cam secondary better managed the increased power output as well as transferred more useable power to the track.

What was ultimately produced was one of the finest leaf spring consumer muscle sleds of all time. This was affirmed in February of 1980 when a pre-production 1981 model was crowned World’s Fastest in a 2 mile lake run.

Many argued that raw top end speed was not a complete representation of performance as handling was equally important. The El Tigré’s handling prowess would be scrutinized in December 1980 at the Dayco’s Muscle Machine Shoot-Out.

Arctic Cat racing legend Larry Coltom came out of retirement to pilot the 6000 in the industry’s first-ever major snocross. In the final, Coltom was lined up against the best offerings from seven competing manufactures, half of them sporting new IFS. That day, Coltom riding the El Tigré 6000, defeated them all. Not only did it confirm that Coltom had not lost his driving skill but validated the El Tigré 6000 as World’s Fastest.

Here’s a recent speed run of the mighty El Tigré . 99.9 mph in 1320′ on Radar. Definitely capable of pushing well beyond the century mark.





  • Great article Andy.

    • Totally agree I owned one in 1983 saw 100 + on a cold night on Oneida lake Cicero NY

      Nothing faster untill after 1989 with the heavier more drag IFS Arctic Eltigre’s!

      Dave T

  • Bought a new 81 ET 6000 in Feb 81 when I heard Cat was going under, yes it would do the 100 by the speedo on a groomed trail. Fast for a spring leaf sled, another sled I should have kept. I have a 81 500 now, almost as good.


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