Tuesday, 23 October 2018

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All Good Things Must Come To An End

Submitted by Bob Weaver

As a boy I had the privilege of riding my neighbors ’68 Ski-Doo. I was hooked. I saved my money and bought a used Sno Jet. I loved snowmobiling. In the summer of 1970, I ordered a 1971 Ski-Doo 440 TNT. I had that sled for less than a year, when my interests turned to Arctic Cat. I wanted one and thought if I became a dealer I would get it at dealers cost. (Little did I know the dealer didn’t make much money). The Ski-Doo dealer lived around the corner from my mom’s house and sold Ski-Doo’s out of his garage so why couldn’t I? My mom had no problem with it, so at 20 years old, I wrote to Arctic Cat in the early spring of 1971 to obtain a dealership. They approved me, but I needed $5,000.00 for the first order of 5 sleds and the parts and clothing. I had no money so, off to the bank I went, M&T Bank. I applied for a $5,000.00 loan and I had to meet with the branch manager. He asked me what I wanted the money for and then asked what I had for collateral. I told him I had nothing. He then approved the loan and gave me my first loan of $5,000.00. (Which I repaid at the end of the first season and to this day I still do business with M& T Bank)
The sleds showed up at my mom’s house stacked 3 high on an open tractor trailer. I called all of my friends to help manually unload them. I was very fortunate in having a part time job at a very small sporting goods store. The owner suggested I put a small snowmobile display in the corner of his store and sell from there. This worked much better than trying to sell them from my mother’s garage. 46 years later, I still have the first three years sales slips from that store. Whitehaven Pro Shop on Grand Island, NY.
I started with Arctic Cat sleds and mini bikes, then added Hodaka, Montessa, Steen, Maico, DKW and Husqvarna motorcycles. In 1972 I had the chance to add Suzuki motorcycles, but I had to move off Grand Island to Tonawanda, NY. I made the move in 1973 and added Suzuki motorcycles and snowmobiles. This store was called Sheridan Suzuki. It didn’t take long before I added Ski-Doo, Rupp, Alouette and Chaparral snowmobiles. Over time, many of the snowmobile manufacturers went out of business and in 1978, I built a new building and added Honda. When I moved in there, I only sold Honda, Suzuki, Arctic Cat and Ski Doo. This store was appropriately named Sheridan Suzuki Honda since like the store before it, it was located on Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda NY (a suburb of Buffalo, NY).
In 1986 I bought a marina called Anchor Marine. I immediately added Polaris, Arctic Cat and Ski Doo. I just couldn’t get away from those snowmobiles. I just loved them. Then in 2002 I sold the marina and went back to my true love, the motorsports business. With my son at my side, we built a new facility on Niagara Falls Blvd, in North Tonawanda NY, Bob Weaver Motorsports & Marine, Inc. where I am currently located to this day. 46 years later selling Yamaha, Honda, Ducati and Polaris.
So you might ask with over 230 collector snowmobiles when did I start? I started collecting in 1973 when I bought my first vintage sled, a 1963 Arctic Cat Iron Dog. The collection grew from that first Cat to well over 230 sleds. I collected anything I liked regardless of brand. As time went on I collected lots of race sleds. I think one of the rarest and most unique race sleds I have is the TSST (three ski’s single track) Formula sled of Yamaha’s Tim Bender. What a work of art. I have many sleds that I have restored that have won numerous prizes with, Al Unser’s Sno Jet and the Ski-Daddler Race Sled, with the 4 cylinder J LO engine that won National Vintage Sled of the Year in 2013. Some of the rarest sleds I have are not rare because they are race sleds, they are the NOS snowmobiles that are still in the factory crates, 3 Polaris, 1 AMF, 1 Rupp, 1 Yamaha and 1 Arctic Cat. Think about it, how did these sleds remain in the crates after all these years?
After riding snowmobiles for 50 years and being a dealer for 46 years, I’ve decided to sell my collection. You see, in my mind there is 3 steps of fun in owning vintage sleds.
#1 The best fun is in the hunt or finding and acquiring the sled.
#2 Is in owning, restoring and showing them.
#3 Will be in selling them and seeing where they go and seeing that smile on the person who buys them as they just completed step #1 all over again.
It has been a great ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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