I was looking over Wired‘s post on Hammacher-Schelmmer’s gas-powered snowboards, and it hit me: didn’t someone do this years ago? And wasn’t that someone none other than the Chrysler Corporation?
Turns out the answer is both ‘no’ and ‘yes.’ The Chrysler Sno-Runner, introduced in 1978, was more a snow-tracked scooter than a snowboard. That may be for the better, though – the steerable front ski, and the rider’s ability to actually lean into turns seem to make the little Chrysler a more viable (and enjoyable) alternative.
Never heard of the Sno-Runner? What began as Chrysler Marine’s attempt to create a lithe snow transport for the U.S. Marines eventually evolved into a consumer-grade recreation device. Built in Wisconsin, the Sno-Runner used a 7-hp, 133-cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine, coupled by chain to drive a snow track. Best of all, a series of quick-release pins allowed the bike to quickly be disassembled and transported in the cargo space of an Omni.
But the bike’s design wasn’t perfect. Contrary to its name, users found the Sno-Runner wasn’t particularly well-suited to running in deep powder, and sales ultimately waned. On the verge of bankruptcy, Chrysler axed a number of programs within its Marine division, and the slow-selling Sno-Runner was killed in 1982.
Still, we think it’d be at least some fun to run around town – particularly here in Michigan, where unplowed sidewalks and city streets make running around on a vintage Honda Express all but impossible. If you’re of the same mindset, you’re in luck – a (literally) mint-in-box example is up for grabs on eBay, still packed in its original shipping crate.