In the late-1970s, Chrysler Corporation was running into deep financial problems. But the company was known for its advanced engineering department both inside and outside the automotive industry. In 1977, the Chrysler Marine Division started work on one of the narrowest snow machines ever to hit the market: the Sno Runner.
Produced from 1979 to 1982, the Chrysler Sno Runner was a small motorcycle-like snow machine featuring a compact engine, a single ski up front, and a narrow rear track similar to that of a snowmobile. The machine was designed to take on other snow machines, in hopes to bring some much-needed revenue to the table.
Thanks to a lightweight welded aluminum frame, the Sno Runner could be disassembled into three main components using five quick-release pins. This feature allowed the Sno Runner to fit in the trunk of most vehicles at the time with ease. The “backbone” tube of the frame was fitted with an internal capacity fuel cell of 1.3-gallons.
The vehicle also featured a four-position adjustable footrest, a black-upholstered seat featuring Chrysler script, and an automatic 60-watt dual beam headlight for lighting up the trail at night. For added safety measures, the Sno Runner also featured a taillight and side reflectors.
Powering the snow machine was a 134cc two-stroke Chrysler Marine Power Bee 820 engine. The small air-cooled, single-cylinder engine was produced by West Bend before Chrysler acquired the company in the late-1960s.
The Power Bee 820 featured a Tillotson 320A carburetor, CD ignition, chrome-plated cylinder bores, aluminum pistons, stainless-steel reed valves, an automatic centrifugal clutch, and a manual start. The engine was rated at 7 horsepower, while a limited edition model received an output of 10 horsepower.
The engine did have a few setbacks. Carburetor issues plagued those customers at higher altitudes, by restricting airflow to the engine. The other issue was the fact that the engine was fully-exposed to the elements. Snow could easily get into the air filter and could cause it to clog up.
Because of heavy EPA regulations at the time, the Sno Runner featured a restrictive exhaust which eliminated about 25% of the machine’s actual power. In ideal conditions, the Sno Runner was capable of a top speed of 25 mph.
Steering was provided by a black fiberglass-reinforced nylon ski, while braking came from a cable-actuated band on the clutch drum.
This particular machine is a 1980 model. It features an Orange and White paint scheme, with a few touch-up marks here and there. Since there is no instrumentation, the mileage is unknown. But it is in fairly good condition for its age.
A replacement Tillotson carburetor was installed in May 2022, at which time the fuel line, fuel filter, and ignition coil were replaced.
Nevertheless, this is one piece of Chrysler’s history not many younger people have heard of, we are sure. But it would be a great conversation piece in any Mopar collection.
This Sno Runner is up for auction on BringATrailer.com, as we speak. The auction runs through Tuesday, November 15th @ 3:01 p.m. EST. To see more pictures, details, video, or to bid please visit its dedicated page on BringATrailer.com.
And if you want to learn a lot more about the Chrysler Sno Runner, you can visit PowerSportsGuide.com’s dedicated Chrysler Sno Runner page.