Vintage Deere Snowmobiles

Learn about Dan Holtrop’s love of John Deere and his collection of vintage John Deere snowmobiles.

Dan Holtrop is an avid John Deere collector. But his collection is not limited to old iron. The Ravenna, Michigan, man also has eight of the company’s snowmobiles manufactured from 1971 to the early 1980s. 

Left to right: A 1983 John Deere Sprintfire, 1983 John Deere Liquifire,1981 John Deere Liquifire, 1982 John Deere Trailfire LX and a 1982John Deere Trailfire. Photo by Jerry Mattson.

At the point when Deere entered the snowmobile market, Ski-Doo was the leader, followed by Arctic Cat and Polaris. In March 1970, Deere prototype sleds were completed and evaluated in the Houghton/Hancock area in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Production started in 1971 at the company’s plant in Horicon, Wisconsin. The now well-known slogan “Nothing runs like a Deere” started with the snowmobile line in 1972. 

Dan and his older brother, Pat, first became owners of John Deere snowmobiles on Christmas day of 1990, when they were ages 14 and 17. Their parents gave Dan a Model 300 and Pat a Model 400. “They looked new to us, but were actually built in the early 1970s,” Dan says. “They had been restored by Julian Drews, who lived nearby.” The brothers enjoyed riding the machines for several years until the sleds were destroyed in 1998, when their storage barn collapsed in a severe wind storm. 

Starting over with a Trailfire 

A 1982 John Deere Trailfire. Photo by Dan Holtrop.

In 2006, Dan began looking for another John Deere sled. He found a 1982 John Deere Trailfire on eBay and bought it. At that point, he had owned one of the earliest and the one of the latest models produced by Deere. The collection had begun. 


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