During the late 1960’s and early 70’s, Massey Ferguson made some of the finest tractors and combines in the world. In addition to all manner of farm implements, they also built some other finely engineered products such as lawn and garden tractors and as we see here, snowmobiles. The sleds were not some other company’s product that Massey just bought and applied their name. These machines were designed and engineered from the ground up and were some of the toughest sleds on the market. The earliest machines had the classic “square nose” signaling their direct linage to the legendary 1100 Series tractors. They were even advertised as “tractor tough” which was appreciated by farmers. However, in the late 1970’s, the market was changing and buyers of new snowmobiles weren’t looking for a machine that resembled a tractor. Modern styling, sleek designs and speed were important to urban customers and Massey Ferguson changed with the times. From 1968 through 1974, these machines were built at the Massey plant in Des Moines, Iowa. However, when that plant closed its doors, the manufacture of the later models were farmed out to other companies. New models began to appear at dealerships with names like Formula I, Chinook, Whirlwind, Cyclone and Storm. Sold and serviced by Massey Ferguson dealers, these newly restyled machines, continued to capture a large share of the snowmobile market. Because these sleds were so well built, they are highly sought after by both Massey collectors and many snowmobile enthusiasts. Included in this feature are two collectors who are connoisseurs of the Massey Ski Whiz brand. In addition to the actual machines, they collect clocks, snowmobile suits, boots and clothing, advertising, service manuals, thermometers, helmets, posters, toys and signs. First you will meet Brad and Tricia Blasius from Ohio and then the Kyle Hoff from Montana. These folks are serious collectors and would like to share their enthusiasm for the Massey sleds with Legacy Quarterly readers. The rarest sled and newest sled in the collection, is a prototype. It is one of two, hand-built snowmobiles Massey Ferguson designed and engineered for testing around 1966-67. There are several differences between the prototype and production models. A noticeable difference is the hood design along with pop rivets all over the tunnel. Also, the chain-case cover is screwed on and the foot rest is noticeably different. I am still in awe, looking over this sled at the many other small differences between this prototype and the production model. This special snowmobile was purchased from Jim Heydlauff of Chesaning, Michigan. He was the original owner of this prototype and he worked in field testing for Massey Ferguson. Jim shared a few of his special memories of leaving in October to head out west to Yellowstone in Wyoming to test the sled. He also recalled testing the sled in Dylan, Colorado, Copper Harbor and Grayling, Michigan. He specifically remembered testing the Massey prototype against competitor sleds such as Skidoo, Artic Cat and Polaris. Jim recommended making a few changes to the production snowmobile such as replacing the 380 single-cylinder with the twin-cylinder engine, putting in side vents and adding the Ski Whiz decals. I personally want to thank Jim for the opportunity to own this piece of history. I plan to restore the sled to the original condition of the prototype. SKI WHIZ TESTING IN 1973 The spring of 1973 saw extensive engineering changes to the Massey Ferguson snowmobile lines. Many of the problems for that model year were precipitated by new Federal noise output regulations that went into effect in 1973. The allowable noise output was set by law at a maximum of 80 dpA. Attempting to modify the JLO, German built engines, resulted in over-heating, short drive belt life, hard starting and poor performance. Consumer Product Engineering in Detroit developed a modification kit to solve these problems. Testing of the modification kits was deemed successful, which meant all existing sleds in warehouses and dealerships had to have the new carb modification kits installed. At the same time, they were designing and building prototypes of the 1974 Ski Whiz models 304, 344, 404, and 444, which were the new style black machines for production release in the fall of 1973. These prototypes incorporated the new components to overcome the issues experienced in the 1973 model units along with the new styling features and color scheme. The machines had been tested at Bear Tooth Pass in Montana and the site was considered unsatisfactory because of the extremely high elevation. It was decided to re-test the machines in extreme snow conditions but at sea level. The testing was moved to Resolute Bay on the Northern tip of Baffin Island off the coast of Greenland. This site was sixty miles from the magnetic North Pole, which meant that your compass was useless. We took two of the modified 1973 Ski Whiz and three of the 1974 prototype black machines, which included the 344, 404, and 444 two-cylinder models. We were there for four weeks and put about 600 miles on each machine. We hired local Inuit people (Eskimos) to drive the extra sleds and prevent us from getting lost in the Arctic Tundra. At the end of the four weeks, it was determined that all of the tests had been successfully completed and the three prototypes were shipped back to Detroit. One of the two red, 1973 machines was given to the foreman of the Sun Oil station in return for letting us use their facilities and the other one was given to our Eskimo guide. We returned to Detroit with our successful report and engineering released the 1974 models for production.