PERSONAL FAVES: 1996 Arctic Cat Cougar

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Everybody’s had that one sled that stands out from the rest. It defines the fun of snowmobiling and every time you reflect back on it, there’s a little twitch in your heart. In this series we asked our staffers to share their faves. Read what SnowTrax Television Co-Host AJ Lester has to say about the 1996 Arctic Cat Cougar

Probably the most pivotal sled in my snowmobiling life is one that is often forgotten by most people. I believe this sled was really underappreciated in its time: It was a liquid-cooled 1996 Cougar 550. I’m pretty sure my dad bought it for me at a local Cat dealer as a leftover sled from the previous year.

In stock form it was nothing short of plain, albeit slightly pleasing with Arctic Cat’s 1990’s styling and graphics – but just begging for a little love.

And love it would get. Thinking back, it may be one of the reasons I’m the custom-build guy these days, spinning wrenches in the Trail Tech shop for SnowTrax and DirtTrax Television. We took that Plain-Jane ’96 “Coug” and turned it into something I’ll never forget.

That season at Supertrax World Headquarters, the powers-that-be decided the Cougar would get overhauled and turned into a project sled. Since it was my personal ride, I was pretty excited.

The bits and pieces that were grafted into the Cougar turned out to be an M-10 skidframe with matching green sliders, a Cobra-Tech checkered flag low windshield and matching green ski-skins – because plastic skis weren’t yet a “thing”. We also decided to stud the track.

Looking back, it seems like very little actually went into it, but, for the day, this was a rockin’ set up. It’s funny because it seemed like every time we stopped on the trail folks were checking it out and admiring the mods we’d made.

Maybe it was just me being only 12 years old, freshly licensed and having my first taste of trail-riding on my own but it was perfect and left me with an everlasting gobstopper-like appetite for our sport and the addiction to upgrading my vehicles that continues to this day.

AJ Lester
AJ Lester
AJ is a former CSRA snocross racer and Co-Host of SNOWTRAX TV which can be seen on Sportsman Channel across America and in Canada on OLN, Sportsman Channel Canada, Wild TV and REV TV and globally on our YouTube channel.

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