Auction Car of the Week: 1967 Thiokol Snowcat
There's something so cool about vehicles that were former professional vehicles. Sometimes it's an old Crown Vic from the local police department. Other times it's the Jeep J20 the local fire company used as a brush truck. This might be the coolest former work vehicle ever, though. It's a Thiokol 601, formerly used by the US Air Force as a shuttle to its radar stations, presumably in places where it snowed like crazy. Your go-to producer of wild snow machines probably isn't the Thiokol Chemical Corporation of Logan, Utah, is it? Well, maybe it should be.
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Thiokol was a chemical corporation that made a foul-smelling adhesive compound that clogged a sink in the laboratory and was completely resistant to any kind of solvent. As it turned out, that substance was a type of synthetic rubber, and the company went on to use it as the stabilizer in solid-fuel rockets.
Along with the rocket fuel stabilizer, Thiokol also built ski-lifts from after the war through the skiing boom in the 1950s and 1960s. When you're building and servicing lifts, you get to learn a lot about how ski mountains operate. In the days before four-wheel drive was even available as a factory option, Thiokol noticed a need for a vehicle that could be used both as a snowmobile to shuttle people around, as well as some form of rudimentary grooming equipment.
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Interestingly, Thiokol's snow machine division was sold to Logan Manufacturing Company (LMC), which was owned by John DeLorean. There’s currently a Thiokol Imp out in front of the Mount Washington Weather Discovery Center in North Conway, New Hampshire.
Powered by six-cylinder Ford gasoline engines, and steered via steering clutches like a Caterpillar, the Thiokol 601 and the smaller Imp became standard fare at ski resorts, as well as with outfits like the Air Force, whenever trudging through snow was required. Thiokols with larger bodies like this one are suitable for carrying up to ten people.
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Considering this was used by the military and essentially mothballed for decades, the condition of this Thiokol 601 is remarkable. The Air Force Blue paint is in exceptional condition. The interior has been fitted with more modern seats, with headrests and seatbelts.
It's got a sunroof/hatch thing, and the seller notes that if you need a gigantic trailer to haul it with, he's got you covered.
It also features what looks like a Heineken keg for a fuel tank, though a VIN check could reveal it to be a Lowenbrau.
For the adventurous vintage car buyer, this Thiokol 601 might be just the ticket for that vacation in the woods, or for the anarchy loosed by the inevitable onset of rampaging zombies.