This is one of two Thunderbolts ever built and the only one currently assembled with a motor and is operable. The second machine is in North Dakota.
Henry Leseman of Ada, MN did specialized work for Arctic Cat and made parts for many other snowmobile manufacturers. He was encouraged to build his own snowmobile and he did so using the best features of Arctic Cat and Viking along with some ideas of his own. This was the start of Thor Industries and the Thunderbolt snowmobile. Two prototypes were built and tested in the summer of 1969. One Thunderbolt was sent to an East coast distributor to be shown at a show in Montreal, with the intention of encouraging dealers to sell this machine. At the same time, the company that was committed to the funding backed out since the industry was beginning to struggle. This particular machine was given to the distributor by Henry.
Henry Leseman sold his business and began a company in Venezuela in 1972. Henry sold one of the Thunderbolts before he left for Venezuela to a man from North Dakota. In 1982, Mr. Ernol (Bud) Knapp of Cedar Springs, MI was doing research on the Thunderbolt and met with Henry, who lives in Arkansas. Bud was later able to purchase this Thunderbolt in Dover, New Hampshire.
Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
P.O. Box 2
Naubinway, MI 49762
Hours: 906 477-6298
Appointment: 906 477 6192
Copyright © 2009 - 2023 Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum. All rights reserved.