John Deere Snowmobiles

Development, Production, Competition and Evolution, 1971–1983


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About the Book

Long respected as a manufacturer of sturdy agricultural machinery, the John Deere Company began in the 1960s to build a line of consumer products in a dedicated factory in Horicon, Wisconsin. Starting with a lawn and garden tractor in 1963, Deere soon entered the fast-growing snowmobile market, introducing two models in 1971. The next 13 years would see a succession of models as Deere vied against tough competitors in a weather-dependent market.
This detailed history, written by two key participants in the snowmobile program, describes the development of John Deere snowmobiles from start to finish: the design and engineering decisions that shaped each important model; reception of the snowmobiles by consumers; the factory race teams; the introduction of front-engine and water-cooled models; the process of selecting engines and negotiating with suppliers, including when problems developed; and the snowmobiles’ impact on product engineering. The text provides an inside view of Deere’s Consumer Products Division at a time of rapid growth, and of the people and processes that made it all happen.

About the Author(s)

Ronald K. Leonard applied his engineering skills to John Deere products during a 41-year career. He divides his time between Galena, Illinois and Key Colony Beach, Florida.
From April 1974 until retirement in July 2000, Richard Teal worked for the John Deere Horicon Works in Horicon, Wisconsin. He lives in Horicon.

Bibliographic Details

Ronald K. Leonard and Richard Teal
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 107 photos (16 in color), appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7837-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1355-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. Origin and Growth of the John Deere Company 9
2. Start of Deere Consumer Products Business 19
3. Deere Prepares for Snowmobiles 30
4. Expanding the John Deere Snowmobile Line 56
5. Implementing Changes 70
6. Improving 1974 and 1975 Models and JD 340/S 86
7. Front-Engine Chassis Snowmobiles 108
Between pages 114 and 115 are 8 color plates containing 17 photographs
8. Racing Snowmobiles 126
9. Designing the New Breed of Deere 148
10. Horicon Works Decade of Excellence, 1976–1986 172
11. How the Snowmobile Changed Product Engineering 192
I. Green Streak Racing Bulletins 215
II. Trailfire Test Report, Snow Goer magazine 231
III. Snow Goer Best Handling Award for John Deere Liquifire 234
IV. Product Safety Report from 1982 Product Strategy Meeting 235
V. Horicon Works Competitive Review 236
VI. John Deere Fortune 500 Rankings, 1955–2005 240
Bibliographic Notes 241
Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

“comprehensive history…readers interested in the overall span of Deere & Company will find much new history harvested from intimate accounts of an experimental advancement into a new business segment”—SAH Journal.