1969 Ski-Doo Olympique 320 SS

... the SS models were designed to fill a momentary void in stock racing classes in 1969
In 1969 people on the East Coast didn't go snowmobiling, they went "ski-dooing." The sleds from Quebec were everywhere there was snow including the North Pole, which was reached by a bright yellow Ski-Doo Olympique on April 20, 1968.

Ski-Doo was the no. 1 selling snowmobile brand. With the success of the Olympique series established heading into 1969, only minor updates were made to the line. There were six Olympique models offered that season. The base model was the popularly priced 12/3 with a newly developed 299cc single replacing the venerable 247cc. At the "hot" end of the spectrum was a "performance" 12/3 SS version with a 292cc Rotax.

The 12/3 nearly doubled its power output with the upgrade, jumping from a mild 12 horsepower to a more robust 22 hp. With virtually no weight gain from its claimed 285 pounds, the SS model offered quite a performance gain.

An equally "hot" factory modification was applied to the popular Olympique 320 model. One of the best selling Ski-Doo models, the versatile 320 designated Olympiques came with a single cylinder Rotax engine that measured 318cc and put out 18 hp in the "320" series. While factory engineers kept the 320 moniker, they discarded the stock engine and went with a new 335cc configuration. The engine's aluminum cylinder featured a cast iron sleeve with a 78mm bore opposite the 70mm stroke. With port timing revised, the Rotax single was equipped to take a larger Tillotson HD carburetor as standard fare. Power output climbed to 26 hp.

If you've ever seen an Olympique 320, you recall the boxy and restrictive nature of the stock intake silencer. To improve airflow, engineers opted for a rubber inlet boot. While freer flowing, the boot was messy as the fuel mix blew back into the rider's suit. An unwary rider with loose fitting clothing could also find the sled losing power if the carb sucked his jacket into the rubber boot; a too frequent occurrence for some racers!

It was racers that Ski-Doo had in mind when they configured these SS models. With nothing smaller in the new T'NT line than the T'NT 399, the SS models were designed to fill a momentary void in stock racing classes in 1969. The very next season, their T'NT 292 and T'NT 340 models appeared, based on these SS models. In fact, the Olympique 320 disappeared, being replaced by a new 335cc version. It was not the same engine that powered the 320 SS. A slightly more potent version of the new 335 was used in the new T'NT 340 for 1970.

A retro-fit of the key SS engine components were available to owners of the standard 12/3 and 320 models, but most racing associations would only let such retro-fitted Olympiques run in modified, not stock classes. In stock racing, the factory "mod" Olympique 12/3 SS and 320 SS models virtually owned the 295 and 340 classes in 1968-69.

The Olympique 320 SS enjoyed the use of a new Lexan windshield that sustained abuse much better than the older style windscreens. Ski-Doo introduced a new method of securing the windshield to the hood. Instead of screwing the windshield to the hood via a metal strip, the windshield fit into a grooved slot and rubber stripping secured the screen.

The 320 SS featured a self-energizing drum brake, needed to handle the higher horsepower of the newer Olympique
models.

As a precursor to the line of single cylinder T'NT models, and while seemingly little changed from the previous year, the 320 SS was a faster and more rider-friendly sled than before. And a real winner in its only season of existence!

This story ran in the December 2003 issue of American Snowmobiler

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