Jaguar Land Rover rescues British off-road tuner Bowler
19 December 2019 - autoblog
Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicles Operation (SVO) rescued British off-road tuner Bowler from an uncertain fate. The firm has worked with Land Rover in the past, but it has always been independent.
While JLR isn't in an ideal position to make acquisitions, and its recent financial troubles are well documented, Bowler was on the brink of shutting down. The small, 34-year old company had entered administration, and the 26 people it employed risked losing their jobs. Monetary details haven't been released, meaning we don't know how much Bowler was worth, but the firm pointed out it's now fully owned by SVO. It joins SV, Vehicle Personalization, and Classic as the division's fourth pillar.
It's too early to tell precisely where Bowler will fit in the JLR latticework, because the initial focus will be on stabilizing the company. It will remain based in Belper, England, and every member of its full-time staff has been offered a position as a JLR employee. Bowler made a name for itself by turning the original Defender into a rally car, and Land Rover said the expertise it acquired during decades of racing is highly sought after, so that's a hint we'll see more hardcore models developed jointly by the two companies sooner or later. The new Defender would lend itself well to the Bowler treatment.
The Bowler name could replace the SVX nameplate used on the stillborn, V8-powered Discovery, for example. The tuner's focus on off-pavement performance means we're unlikely to see a Bowler-badged Jaguar, but anything is possible as global demand for SUVs (especially quick ones) continues to rise. What's certain is that, once Bowler is stable, it will grow bigger.