The Complete History of the First ATV Ever Made

Let’s hit the trail back to where it all began—the birth of the first ATV. This is the vehicle that revolutionized the off-road world by showing people you can ride on all types of terrains without any problems. What’s surprising about this ATV is that it’s NOT a four-wheeler! The name of the ATV is Jiger and today you will learn everything there is to know about it.

Jiger is the first ATV ever made. The ATV launched in 1961 and it used six wheels to conquer land and water with ease. The ATV was designed by John Gower and Mary Gower. It shipped with a 4-stroke engine that delivered 5.5 horsepower and it weighed 250 pounds!

This was the “too long, didn’t read” version of what you need to know about the world’s first ATV. Keep reading to take a ride through history and explore the full specs that Jiger shipped with. Not just that! I will also showcase the first four-wheelers that the world’s biggest off-road brands have made.

When Was the First ATV Ever Made?

photo of miltary edition of Jiger ATV

The first ATV was introduced to the world in 1961. This ground-breaking machine was the Jiger, a six-wheeled wonder that could tackle land and water with ease. It was the brainchild of inventors John Gower and Mary Gower, whose vision was to create a vehicle that could go where no car had gone before.

Specs Breakdown of the Jiger:

  • Engine: 5.5 HP Tecumseh four-stroke
  • Transmission: Three-speed shifter with reverse
  • Drive System: Six-wheel drive
  • Weight: Approximately 250 pounds
  • Capacity: Designed to carry two people
  • Unique Feature: Amphibious capabilities

The Jiger set the stage for what was to come, boasting a versatility that was unheard of at the time. It wasn’t just about power; it was about pioneering a new way to explore the outdoors. When you think about it, it’s crazy that a six-wheeler gave the start to an off-road industry that created the most versed four-wheelers ever.

When Did The World’s Biggest ATV Companies Make Their First Four-Wheelers?

Are you curious to find out when today’s biggest ATV companies have launched their first four-wheelers? Keep reading to find out!


Yamaha made a splash with the Tri-Moto (YT125) in 1980. It was their first three-wheeler, paving the way for their four-wheelers. The Yamaha Moto-4 was introduced in 1985, marking their official entry into the four-wheeled ATV market.


Suzuki was ahead of the curve, releasing the LT125 in 1983. It was the first four-wheeled ATV on the market, setting a new standard for the industry.


Can-Am, known for their innovation, jumped into the game with the Traxter ATV in 1998. It was a game-changer with its Rotax engine and distinctive design.


Polaris, an American icon, launched the Trail Boss in 1985. This model was a true boss of the trails with its automatic transmission and rugged build.


Honda, a name synonymous with reliability, introduced the ATC90 in 1970. This three-wheeler led to the creation of their first four-wheeler, the TRX200, in 1984.

Summing It Up

In the end, the history of the first ATV is a patchwork of innovation, timing, and terrain. From the Jiger’s six-wheel drive to the sleek and powerful models from Yamaha, Suzuki, Can-Am, Polaris, and Honda, the evolution of the ATV is a testament to human ingenuity and the desire to push the limits of adventure.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at if you want to get in touch.

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