Land Rover acquires off-road racing specialist Bowler

Jaguar Land Rover has announced its acquisition of off-road performance vehicles and racing specialist Bowler, makers of the Wildcat and Bulldog as well as the Defender Challenge (pictured). Founded by the late Drew Bowler in 1985, Bowler will now be run by Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) at Jaguar Land Rover, where the new addition will sit alongside SV, Classic and Vehicle Personalisation programmes.

“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 SVO managing director Michael van der Sande.

Bought for an amount, Bowler has “expertise in all-terrain vehicle dynamics, low-volume production techniques and proving the durability of components under extreme conditions,” capabilities which are sought-after, said Jaguar Land Rover.

The firm’s immediate focus is on ensuring continuity of support for Bowler employees and customers during the specialist brand’s transition to Jaguar Land Rover, van der Sande continued. Bowler will continue to operate from its current premises in Derbyshire, United Kingdom for the foreseeable future, Jaguar Land Rover said in its statement. The day-to-day staff of 26 will remain, though “some people will no longer be involved,” a spokesperson told Autocar.

Plans for Bowler will come in two parts, van der Sande told Autocar. The first is to stabilise the business for the first six to 12 months to give the firm ‘the organisation and investment that it needs’, the SVO chief said. Secondly, JLR is developing plans for Bowler’s growth, though van der Sande only went as far as saying that Bowler will get bigger.

What is likely is that the Bowler name could be used on select Land Rover models built to be more extreme off-road variants, Autocar notes, adding to Special Vehicle Operations with an offering that isn’t currently present in the group. “We think it’s a cool company that shows there’s a great deal you can do with Land Rovers,” van der Sande commented to the magazine.

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