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BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS LARGE

BOWLER CSP
Race-bred Defender look-alike with phenomenal performance.

Unless you’re heavily into off-road racing and rallies, you probably haven’t heard of Bowler, figuring it’s not what the Aussie cricket team needs, but reliable batsmen. Bowler is a specialist UK 4WD builder, producing vehicles that use current and old-design Land Rover Defender panels.

 

 

A Bowler may look like a refurbished Defender, but it’s not. It’s a competition machine that some buyers use on-road, but that would be rather a waste. If it’s a refurbished and significantly upgraded Defender you want, Land Rover’s Classic Division does precisely that. The latest Classic products are Trophy Defenders.

Regardless of which way you go, getting hold of one of these retro-style machines isn’t a cheap exercise. Bowler and Classic products typically have price tags in the $300,000-$350,000 range. Yes, that’s not a ‘typo’ – 300+ grand!

 

 

In the case of Land Rover Classic vehicles the bulk of the price is labour. That’s understandable when you consider that the job starts with a used, but loved, Defender that is systematically, completely dismantled then reassembled.

Along this lengthy journey it’s fitted with modern electronics and other top-shelf components; repowered with state-of-the-art power plants and auto transmissions; scores improved suspension and braking kit diff locks and better wheels and tyres.

The labour involved is around five times what was needed to build a new Defender from scratch.

 

 

Bowler’s approach is different, but just as expensive. Where early Bowlers retained the Defender chassis and live axles the latest models have a purpose-designed, stiff, fabricated aluminium racing chassis, with integrated, FIA-approved tubular-steel roll-over cage and modified Range Rover independent suspension front and rear.

 

 

The basic engine is a tuned V6 Range Rover petrol or diesel V6, but optional engines run up to the supercharged five-litre Jaguar petrol V8, with nearly 600hp on tap.

 

The Bowler story

 

With Bowler’s acclaimed cars having competed in countless national rally and Rally Raid races globally, and the Bowler Factory team achieving numerous racing successes over the years, the company is understandably proud of its motorsport accolades and the performance, safety and durability of its cars across extreme terrains and the harshest of environments.

 

 

Until late 2016, Bowler grew over the preceding three decades through the vision and lifelong work of founder Drew Bowler, heading a skilled and dedicated team, employing innovative engineering.

During this time the company grew from eight people designing and manufacturing 4WD rally cars and aftermarket parts for UK based customers, based at the Bowler family farm in Derbyshire, to a 35-strong team in a dedicated facility with international customers.

Rapid expansion came in 2014 with the commencement of a Bowler-initiated and government backed R&D programme to develop a next-generation vehicle platform – the Cross Sector Platform (CSP). The CSP can be used for a range of vehicle applications including on and off road racing, emergency response, defence and protection, humanitarian, filming, utility and exploration.

Remaining true to the company’s heritage and Drew’s vision before his unexpected passing in late-2016, Bowler continues to produce quality performance vehicles for race and road and has integrated its extreme motorsport engineering and competition expertise into wider vehicle R&D.

 

 

In 2019, Jaguar Land Rover acquired Bowler, which now forms part of its Special Vehicle Operations division that includes SV, Vehicle Personalisation and Classic.

SV designs, engineers and produces high specification SV-branded Jaguars and Land Rovers, amplifying key characteristics including performance and luxury.

Vehicle Personalisation undertakes bespoke commissions, one-off vehicles and is responsible for Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicle accessories and Premium Palette paint.

Classic is the official source of authentic cars, expert services, genuine parts and experiences for classic Jaguar and Land Rover enthusiasts worldwide.

 

Latest developments

 

 

This late-2020 product from Bowler is code-named ‘CSP 575’, indicating that’s it’s a 575hp vehicle, based on the tried and tested CSP platform which underpins the company’s Rally Raid cars. However, the difference is that this will be a road-going car, with room for four and their luggage, within the iconic shape of the original Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon.

 

 

The CSP 575 adds a little refinement for road use, including air conditioning, while still retaining the unmistakable rawness and motorsport passion of a Bowler. Although the final specification of the CSP 575 is still under wraps, it will be powered by the 5.0-litre Jaguar Land Rover Supercharged V8 petrol engine from the Range Rover Sport SVR, producing 575PS and a mountain of torque.

 

 

At home in the desert, or on the road, the CSP 575 will be hand-built to order at the Bowler factory in Derbyshire. Production will be limited, with customer deliveries anticipated from the second half of 2021.

 

Bowler Defender Challenge

 

 

Bowler Motors, the off-road performance specialist, has revealed the Land Rover Defender rally car that will compete in its own championship in 2022. 

Being based on the monocoque new Defender 90 body/chassis, the new Bowler special doesn’t need the older model’s fully rebuilt chassis/roll-over kit.

Bowler used its experience in off-road-rallying competition to transform the Defender 90 into a rally car, adding a full roll cage, modified underbody, raised suspension, rally-spec 18-inch wheels and column-mounted paddle shifters.

The Bowler Defender Challenge is based on the Land Rover Defender 90 with a race-tuned Ingenium 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine.

 

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