Jaguar Land Rover has acquired off-road racing specialist Bowler – will this spawn a new hardcore Defender?
Since 1985, Bowler has been building extreme competition cars in the UK and is best known for its hardcore rally raid off-roaders based on Land Rovers. Today marks a new chapter for the British off-road racing specialist because, in a surprise move, Bowler has been acquired by Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations.
It isn't known how much the acquisition cost Jaguar Land Rover, but the automaker believes Bowler's experience with "all-terrain vehicle dynamics, low-volume production techniques, and proving the durability of components under extreme conditions" is "highly sought-after."
Bowler will join Land Rover's SV, Vehicle Personalization and Classic divisions, which the automaker says is a "natural fit." Since its inception, Bowler has been closely affiliated with Land Rover, which spawned a brand partnership in 2012 that led to the creation of the popular Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series in 2014-2016.
"For almost 35 years the Bowler name has stood for innovation and success, with a reputation forged by its participation in the world's toughest off-road motorsport competitions. It's exciting that we're now in a position to participate in and lead the Bowler brand's future as part of Jaguar Land Rover," said Michael van der Sande, Managing Director at Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations.
"At Special Vehicle Operations we are all eager to start working with our new colleagues at Bowler. Adding the Bowler team's skills and experience to those of SV, Vehicle Personalization and Classic is a key step in our strategy to create an exciting and diverse portfolio of products and businesses within Special Vehicle Operations. Our immediate focus is on ensuring continuity of support for Bowler employees and customers during this transition to Jaguar Land Rover."
Jaguar Land Rover hasn't outlined its future plans for Bowler, but it seems likely the name will be applied to a new series of extreme Land Rover off-roaders in the future. It's probably only a matter of time before Bowler builds a hardcore rally raid off-roader based on the new 2020 Land Rover Defender.