Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) added another company to its Special Vehicle Operations. JLR purchased Bowler, an all-terrain performance company that manufactures cars, parts, and rally raid vehicles.
Bowler was founded in 1985 by Drew Bowler. He began making and selling competitive safari and trials cars from his home. While never winning the Dakar Rally, Bowler vehicles have won just about every other European off-road rally. In 2005 Bowler was the second-largest factory team in the Dakar rally. Bowler had the highest finisher rate that year.
Bowler is the vehicle that made Richard Hammond exclaim that he is a “driving god.”
A Fast Future
JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations now has four brands under its portfolio: SV (Special Vehicles), Personalization, Classic, and now Bowler. The Bowler brand brings expertise in all-terrain vehicles, low-volume production techniques, and extreme durability to JLR.
Any factory team that has the highest finisher rate from a Dakar rally knows something about extreme durability. Maybe there will be a Bowler package available for the new Defender to make it extremely dependable. We can hope.
JLR acquiring Bowler makes a lot of sense. It would be weird if someone else had bought them. Bowler has been using Land Rovers since its inception in 1985. In 2012, Bowler and JLR agreed to a formal brand partnership. Then in 2014 launched the Defender Challenge, which was a one-make race series featuring Bowler vehicles.
Bowler will continue to operate out of its current facility. This is an important part of this agreement. If they had moved Bowler in house, then it would have been more difficult for the Bowler team to prep/change vehicles. The JLR engineers know what they are doing, but the Bowler teams have different ways of thinking for all-terrain racing. The Bowler team will need to maintain its autonomy to keep making competitive vehicles. Let’s hope JLR stays out of their way.