The A-1 Swap and Show is our “start of the snowmobile season” tradition. On November 6th, the Saturday we’d been waiting for, we headed north on I-75 to exit 126 for Mt. Morris, and then west into New Lothrop, about 10 miles west of the freeway. Approaching the field where the show is held, we were again surprised at the attendance. The lot we usually park in was full, and attendants were out directing traffic to two new lots across the road, which were also harvested cornfields. We drove across the bumpy rows, and after donning hats and gloves, walked back to the entrance, at times tripping over the remnants of thick cornstalks.
$5 gets you in the show, and we begin our planned strategy of scanning the aisles for Kawasaki sleds and parts, and other windows into the past. Once through, we go back again for a closer look. I discovered snowmobiling just few years ago, but Bill got an early start, back in the 70s with his Dad on a Skiroule 300, Suzuki XR400, and later a Suzuki Nomad.
The sleds we have today are two stroke Kawasakis, Bill’s is a 1978 Invader and mine is a 1982 LTD, both 440cc. 1982 was the year Kawasaki left the snowmobile business, after acquiring Sno Jet in 1976. Bill remembers how popular these sleds were, back in the day, and every snowmobile magazine was loaded with advertisements. Kawasaki Invaders appeared in an episode of Charlie’s Angels, and my personal favorite is a poster of Darth Vader hitting the trails, on you guessed it, a Kawasaki invader. We actually found my LTD here, at this very swap meet in 2008, purchased from a guy from Indiana who had made the trip here with a trailer full of sleds and parts.
This cold November Saturday slowly warmed up to about 43 degrees, as the sun beat down out of a clear sky. Much of the conversation you overhear today goes something like, “Yeah, I don’t have room for it in barn anymore and I got tired of moving it around…” I’m sure that many of these old sleds, some which hadn’t been stickered in years, brought back a lot of memories. Near the huge registration tent at the north end of the field, was the show area, which included several Yamahas and even a Kawasaki Interceptor, one out of 601 built!
We walked past tables of parts, full sleds, running and not running, shop and owners manuals, stickers and clothing. I zeroed in on a pair of Kawasaki boots that appeared to have never been worn. I was excited, as I was in the market for boots anyway and to come across a Kawasaki pair seemed highly unlikely. Unfortunately, however, as I spoke to the guy behind the table, he was nice enough to point out to me that, even though the boots had never been worn and were tied together at the laces, they were two right feet!
All that was missing today were the snow flurries, the promise of future white weekends in the woods. The smell of smoke hung in the air from the several fire pits burning throughout the field, serving as warming stations for today’s attendees, making for another perfect late fall day.