John Deere

John Deere & Co. designed & built snowmobiles from 1972-1984. The initial design & testing phase came in 1970-1971, when engineers tested other popular snowmobiles, and found ways to improve them. The machines were produced by John Deere Horicon Works of Horicon, Wisconsin along with Lawn & Garden products. Lawn & Garden equipment is still manufactured there.

In 1974, a factory sponsored cross-country race team was assembled to go along with the introduction of the 295/S, Deere’s first purpose-built snowmobile for cross-country racing. The team would eventually be known as “Enduro Team Deere”. The team had many wins, the most notable being the 1976 Minneapolis, St. Paul International 500. Brian Nelson brought home the trophy on his Liquidator. His sled is currently on display at the Snowmobile Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Germain, Wisconsin. 1977 was the last year for the factory program. Instead, Deere offered support and incentives for independent racers.

In 1982-1984, the snowmobile market was in a downward slide, and the driving force behind the snowmobile program (Executive VP Robert Carlson) had left the company. This made ending the snowmobile program an easy decision for Deere. The parts supply and all snowmobile-related resources were sold to Polaris.

There was an understanding that Polaris would continue were Deere left off, selling snowmobiles and parts to the Deere dealers that were interested. This never worked out.