4×4 specialist joins JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations division

Jaguar Land Rover has officially announced the purchase of Bowler, the high-performance 4×4 specialist best known for creating competition and Rally Raid versions of the Land Rover Defender. To be placed under the care of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations division, Bowler will not be absorbed into the wider company, rather it will sit alongside SVO’s existing SV, Classic and personalisation services.

Bowler was founded by the late Drew Bowler in 1985, and has since then become noted for turning the Land Rover Defender into high-performance competition rally cars and more recently the personalisation and modification of road-going models.

Despite this foray into the road car business, it’s unlikely that future SVO-engineered models will don the Bowler name, although the branding could work its way onto limited-run or special editions of future models, including versions of the all-new Defender which will commence series production next year.

Michael van der Sande, managing director of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations, said: ‘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.

‘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 Personalisation and Classic is a key step in our strategy to create an exciting and diverse portfolio of products and businesses within Special Vehicle Operations.’

Does this mean we might see an extreme Baja-bashing Ford Ranger Raptor-style Defender in future with engineering and manufacturing work carried out by Bowler? With JLR’s keen eye on diversifying the new Defender as much as possible, we wouldn’t put it out of contention.