John Deere snowmobiles
John Deere designed & built snowmobiles from 1972-1984. The initial design & testing phase came in 1970-1971, when engineers tested other popular snowmobiles, and found ways to improve them. The machines were produced by the John Deere Horicon Works of Horicon, Wisconsin along with Lawn & Garden products. Lawn & Garden equipment is still manufactured there.
Deere & Company built the John Deere Model A to directly compete with McCormick's Farmall tractors. It was a very popular tractor that used Deere & Company's famous two cylinder design. Early tractors burnt distillate, and became a main selling point because of its low price. Deere & Company's two cylinder design made a very distinctive sound giving them the nickname "Johnny Poppers"
The slogan "Nothing Runs Like a Deere", still used today by Deere & Co., started with the John Deere snowmobile line in 1972. From 1978 to 1980, JD used the slogan "Big John - Little John." In 1980, another new slogan was introduced: "Ride the new breed of Deere".
In 1980, John Deere was the official supplier of snowmobiles for the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York.
In 1982-1984, the snowmobile market was in a downward slide, and the driving force behind the snowmobile program (Executive VP Robert Carlson) had left the company. This made ending the snowmobile program an easy decision for Deere. The parts supply and all snowmobile-related resources were sold to Polaris. There was an understanding that Polaris would continue where Deere left off, selling snowmobiles and parts to the Deere dealers that were interested. This never worked out.
The Snowfire was the last production snowmobile on the market to have a free-air engine, and the last snowmobile in production for John Deere.