The 1968 line of Ski-Doo Olympique snowmobiles had five models:
- A brand new Super 370 Olympique model, with a 370 cc engine delivering 18.5 horsepower
- Super Olympique
- Super Olympique E (Electric Start)
- Super 370 E
Lots of features were added in 1968 for customer convenience, such as more padding in the seats, a storage compartment under the rear seat, and for passengers, a plastic grab handle. Taillights were larger and brighter, to increase safety for riding at night and in inclement weather.
Nineteen sixty-eight was a busy year for the Ski-Doo factory, with 70,276 snowmobiles rolling off the assembly line. The majority of these were the Olympique models with a suggested retail price of $695.00.
The Super Olympique hit the news in 1968 with the Plaisted Polar Expedition, sponsored by Bombardier, becoming the first motorized vehicle to make it to the North Pole. Four men, including the organizer, Ralph Plaisted, and lead driver, Jean-Luc Bombardier (nephew of J. Armand Bombardier), riding Super Olympique 300 cc model snowmobiles for 43 days, two hours and 30 minutes, over 1330 km (800 miles) across Northern Canada. They arrived at the North Pole on April 19, 1968 — with the U.S. Airforce overhead to verify the victory.
Making it to the North Pole, however, was only half the journey, and the four adventurers had an even more difficult return trip. Storms and early thaws made the trip treacherous, and the men were eventually rescued on the ice by a sea plane.
One of the Super Olympiques, however, had to remain behind. So, the fall advertising from Bombardier featured the sled, indicating “Somewhere in the middle of the Arctic there is a Ski-Doo parked with a key in the ignition. If you find it, you are welcome to keep it.”
Photo credit: 1968 Ski-Doo Olympic Photo by Linda Aksomitis, taken at the 6th Annual Vintage Round-Up in West Yellowstone, in March, 2009.
Bombardier Inc, & Fondation J. Armand Bombardier. (1999). Ski-Doo, as long as there’s winter–. [Valcourt, Quebec]: Fondation J. Armand Bombardier.
Aksomitis, L. (2003). Snowmobile adventures: The incredible Canadian success story from Bombardier to the Villeneuves. Canmore, Alta: Altitude Pub. Canada.