Tiger Racer Circa 1986
Tiger ATV was a Minnesota based company that developed 3 wheeling racing ATVs in the 3 wheeling racing GOLDEN years from approx 1983-1986. The Founder was Peter Wood. The company fabricated their own chassis and plastics and implanted ROTAX power plants 125cc-500cc. Tiger dealers were found in many parts of the country. During the 3 wheeling golden years Tigers were higher priced special order race ready alternatives to the “BIG 3” racing three wheelers. To those who raced them most report one thing in common “ they were hard to beat in flat track racing." As three wheelers started to meet their demise from the CPSC and four wheelers started to gain in popularity the financial situation of the company became precarious. I am building a timeline that should be completed shortly.
April 1986 Tiger factory
The Assembly Line
Early 1st generation prototype
As you can see from the scan above the early Tiger 250 was advertised as having blue tank and white plastics, The early Tiger 200 looks to have TIGER blue fenders with a white tank. Some of the earliest of models had an aluminum shroud. The fiberglass shroud was introduced on the wide front end tigers later. It appears alot of development happened within TIGER in a very short span of time.
I will work on rescanning the article for easier reading
3 Wheeling Ad Circa August 1985
This is the Mid generation TIGER which are the most common of the 3 generations of TIGER racers.
This Tiger was located on the East Coast and became Public in 2006. The owner claims it is a 1986 Tiger 250 that he purchased from a TIGER racer. It is the only one I have ever seen. I have studied this Tiger and it appears to be authentic. The differences include dual shrouds molded into a tank line, center mount rear shock, and updated looking front fender, everything else looks very similar to the other models. I believe this was TIGER ATVs last attempt to update the "look" of the tiger to compete with the 1986 Big 3 racers.
Update- 1/09 -Others have doubted the authenticity of this Model TIGER. How could only one of these tigers have been found in almost 25 years, Tiger Collectors have been posting wanted ads, scouring atv salvage yards, and searching ebay for years. Also this owner would not respond to requests for close ups or dated pictures thus raising suspicions on its actual authenticity. Well that has recently changed……It is a real TIGER!!!! It is the
This model has been authenticated from 2 tiger buyouts. Mickey Dunlaps Prototype 1986 Tiger 200cc model has been located.
This machine is currently being restored to its original factory prototype condition of 1986
Acquired by Brian Slusarski Tiger racer directly from the factory. As seen in the picture below Mickey quit in March 1986, Brian was able to buy Mickey’s prototype in April 1986. When Brian visited the factory and picked this machine up Mickey’s other R3 model can be seen in a background picture with the motor removed.
Much More to come on this model
Here are some Mickey Dunlap TIGER Moments
September 22, 1985 Lebanon Valley Speedway Mickey's first race on a tiger.
Upon the acquisition of the R3 Prototype Tiger in Jan, 2009, I reached out to Mickey Dunlap. He was very willing to answer a few questions I had for him regarding his time with TIGER ATV.
When I first contacted him I asked him a general question about TIGER ATV…here was his response
All in all it was good. The money problems were the biggest problem. I
like being the underdog and I felt I could make a winning bike out of
what they already had. The motor was the strong point. I had raced Can Am
bikes for a long time before racing atc's and they had real good power
stock. It was a short lived deal because I wasn't getting paid and we
didn't have the money to do what I wanted to do. I believe they could
have done a lot with the quad too, but again it came down to money.
This peaked my interest so I designed a list of questions for him. Here they are;
1. How did you take note of TIGER ATV, did you contact them or did they recruit you?
I had seen them at the races and I'm not sure who talked to who first. I
always like the motors they were running and I knew they could be made to
2. What was their “pitch” to have you sign on and how were those type of contracts designed back then?
No real pitch, I just liked being the underdog and seen it as something
that I could make a winner out of. I wasn't under contract with them
like I was with Team Honda or Team Green as far as a racer. Honda paid
me, paid everything on the road, and gave win money. Team Green only paid
me win money. I had bad luck with Team Green in 1985 with breaking my
caller bone and blown motors, no fault of Kawasaki. With Tiger it was
more like a good paying job and they paid everything on the road
too, which was about $1000 more a month then I was making at Honda.
3. You mentioned it was short lived and I believe your time there went until March 1986, When did you sign on. How long were you there?
I believe I was there sometime in late Sept early Oct. until March.
4. Did you move out to MN or if not how often did you visit?
No I moved there. I flew back at first to see the place and to enter a
local race. I didn't win the first time out but they said that was the
fastest they ever seen one of their ATV’s run.
5. What exactly was your role with TIGER?
I was the race team manager/racer and R&D manager. The main thing I was
doing is making the 3 wheelers better while getting the Super 4 up and going.
6. I have the pictures of the inside of TIGER factory on my website and have heard they had a track next to the factory. Is that true?
LOL, The inside picture you have was the track. That was the only place I
could ride, was inside. I was testing for the Mickey Thompson indoor
races. They built me wooden jumps to MT specs and the concrete was what
the inside of the Pontiac dome was so that is how we were testing the
7. Did you ever run a Tiger 500 on a track?
Never got to ride the 500 but the 125 had a killer little motor in it.
8. Was the second generation TIGER (left shroud model) the latest model when you arrived or was the dual radiator model in progress already?
They were just getting ready to go with the new style when I got there.
The first radiators where made locally but were big and thick and we were
going to a thinner one like you see today.
9. What was your impression of the factory set up and company itself?
It was a small set up but they had the potential to grow.
10. How many employees do you remember and did the owner have a “hands on” approach.
I think there were 12 to 15 people working at the time I got there.
Peter was involved with just about everything.
11. What was the structure of research and development? Team approach? How were suggestions transitioned into fabrication.
We didn't get a whole lot done. I had just got started on the handling,
I would just tell them what we need to do and they would draw it up and
make the changes.
13. Do you remember that adjustable front rake on the TIGER R3prototype and the reasoning behind it.
I was the one that wanted the adjustable rake because they push in the
front end the way they were. I wanted to hook up more coming out of the
corners but that made it push even more.
14. Did you actually race the R3 model (dual rad) anywhere or describe your actual track experiences on a TIGER.
I think we may have had it out on the ice racing, but I was testing a
power valve motor with different gear boxes at that time.
15. I was told that the picture of the TIGER Super 4 on the factory floor was the first made. That was in 4/86. Press releases of the Super 4 didn’t come until the following fall. You mentioned you thought the quad had potential. Did you participate in the development?
That was the first production model but I had the first prototype
testing it for the Mickey Thompson indoor race in Mich. I raced it there
in Jan. or Feb. 86'. It had good power and handled good on the flat
track style tracks. I was just starting on 4 wheelers so there were
things I needed to learn as far as riding it to.
Most of the time was spent on getting me the Horsepower needed to blow by
anything on the track. The 4 wheeler was taking all the time and what
money there was. We had a or was going to get a twin carb motor that had
a carb coming out of the back of the cylinder and the stock one on the
rotary valve. We had gear boxes out of the go cart motors that we could
change every gear in it. I tried to find a picture of one of these with no luck.
16. In a prior email you mentioned you felt they didn’t have the money to invest in some of your suggestions. This BIG question, with more financial backing what changes were YOU recommending to TIGER ATV machines.
It takes money to make money and the investor was not pumping enough
money in to get where we need to be in order to build the units to sell
and make more money. I don't know what was all going on behind closed
doors but it's not hard to see we needed more money than we were getting.
17. When spending time at the factory did you ever get a sense of how
the units were selling? How many monthly or discussion of needing to sell more?
I don't think there were more than 20 units that went out when I was
there. I know they were always on the phones trying to set up new
dealers and at one point we went to TX to talk with a new investor and
to move the company down there.
Wow that’s only 20 units in 5 or 6 months - 4 units per month during that time frame!!
18. Were there “BIG” plans that just never came to fruition? Any different model prototypes not seen on my website made or discussed? If so what were they?
The Super 4 was made to work with Suzuki 250 quad racers front end
parts. I wanted to change it to a Honda 250r style front end. Honda had
the a-arms laid back which worked better in the rough stuff. The Suzuki
had a better flat track front end on it but overall the Honda was
better but would cost more to build.
The one project I started that no one knows about is a 500 cc open class
four stroke quad. I sent a Rotax 350 motor out to Powroll right before I
left to have it bored and stroked to 500cc.
After I contacted Mickey to inform him his interview was posted on the sight he reviewed the site and had a few more things to say, Here they are
WOW, all I can say is that is quite the flashback Good job on the site,you made me remember more then I really wanted to.
The blue and white van in the back ground is my race van. Going over the Rockey Mt. in Co. the 3wheeler's I had in back had more rear wheel HP then that thing did. It took me almost a day just to get over the 10,000 foot MT. at 30mph
The name of the company at the time I was there was "Team Racing Products" for some reason, not "Tiger".
Only thing I don't like is the picture of me on the 125 in the snow with my "Power Ranger" Red High Point race gear.
It was a picture for an ad they did as a black & white abstract. It didn't look anything like that picture ,which wasn't a bad thing.
Here are the Number of Models known to exist underneath to their respective make and model, This information has come from years of networking , ebay sales, forums, and emails from collectors to this site. Numbers updated December 2008
Tiger 125 Powerplant
Tiger 250 powerplant that has been meticulously restored (rebuilt and refinished) by Mike at Vintage motorsports. WOW!!
2/28/09 Another 500 has been located. Looks like a great start
Above Magazine update- Nov 1986...Was trouble brewing at TIGER??
PRODUCTION NUMBERS.. Have ranges from 200-300 total (lowest estimate) to just under 1000 at its highest estimate.
The tiger 80 appears to be the lowest conversion production (this one is a converted KTM 80cc motocross bike) and the 125's the lowest factory production of the 3 wheelers. The Tiger super 4's were said to be about 50 produced maximum maybe less. Even with some TIGERS popping up recently compare that to about 40,000 ATC 250r's produced in 85/86....yes guys they are a rare find and treasure for sure.......lets find all of them and keep the TIGER community alive!!!!!!!
The contents of the Tiger factory have been found and purchased. The contents were bought at an auction many many years ago and acquired by a tiger collector
Full story to come including pictures....stay tuned
Chris Cooper TIGER 200cc racer
More to come
Brian Slusarski Factory sponsored TIGER racer
Raced the 2nd generation TIGER and the 3rd generation R3
Moorelands Motocross Stanton MI 3/30/86
Rick Calendine Former TIGER racer
Hopefully more coming soon
Peter Wood Surfaces 2006
In 2006 Former owner Peter Wood met up with an individual who found a TIGER 125 out in MN. He also chatted with another TIGER 3 wheeler fan "Jesse" who has been Looking for TIGERS and Tiger info for some time. Peter signed some vintage items he had saved. A few signed items were offered for sale. I personally did not have contact with Peter at the time but acquired some of the signed items, The tiger 125, and some other items. I would love for Peter to see this site and offer some history.
Peter give us a holler for an "Interview with Peter Wood"
Peter with Original Blue Prints
This section is dedicated to a few photos of near death TIGERS that have been found by collectors and are in the process of being restored to their former glory. As you can see to the untrained eye these would have been put in the melting pot. I am sure many TIGERS in this condition have been scrapped over the past 25 years.
This is MY FIRST TIGER literally dragged into my Shop March 16th 2005
This 500 was in a fight with a torch and welder during its time on earth but is now one of the 500s pictured in the 500 section.
A tiger super 4 in any condition is a find!!!
Mostly there but in need of a restore...A good restore candidate
This isn't the first time I've seen a tiger in this condition. Sometimes you need to purchase a few of these to assemble 1 good tiger. The extra parts always come in handy or can be sold.
PLASTICS- Made of PVC or Fiberglass (some models) Very fragile and be very proud if you find the original rear fender without damage As seen in the 2 sets of pictures I provided the PVC style and fiberglass style are different shapes. These are both factory TIGER fenders. The 500 fender is the PVC style found on most three wheelers, The fiberglass 250 fender pictured has been a several three wheelers I have seen (200's, and 250's) and the super 4.
Front number plate -After searching for years I finally secured a TIGER FACTORY front number plate. It seems that not to many of these made it thru the test of time. I have only seen only three in existence including this one.
REAR -Carlisle Amerithons, Armstrong turf savers, Tiger 500 had carlisle TRAIL PROS 10 INCH. All these tires are now discontinued (trail pros are now available in for only 8 and 9 inch rim)
FRONT -Cheng Shin C832 (On most models) 23.5x8x11 Still available
CARRIER- 84/85 Tecate rear bearings
FRONT HUB- In house made by TIGER....6203-2RS-5/8
STEERING STEM-Bearings (searching for part number/size)
DECALS- Reproductions available Speed and Sport Yamaha, Bloomsburg PA Graphics dept.
EXHAUST- JEMCO or handmade by Peter Wood (former founder of Tiger) Bill's Pipe (500 only)
FORKS- Marzocchi, Many versions different from model to model and date of production
SHOCK- Works Ultracross, FOX Twin Clicker.
IGNITION- Bosch, Motoplat
WHEELS Rear Tecate 4/4 bolt patttern, The Tiger Super 4 has hubs the you can change between two different bolt patterns by changing the studs.