When high-performance 4x4 manufacturer Bowler quietly went into administration earlier this year, it looked like Britain's wildest race truck builder was to go out not with a bang, but a whimper. That’s an unfitting fate for the erstwhile manufacturer of the Wildcat and Nemesis, which looked like two of the most exhilarating off-roaders ever built. Bowler's tale, however, won't end in a courtroom because to its rescue has come an unexpected savior, Jaguar Land Rover's skunkworks division Special Vehicle Operations.
Bowler's salvation means that its boost-guzzling Bulldog won't go gentle into that good night, and also that its expertise in designing durable, all-terrain racing vehicles could inform future Jaguar or Land Rover performance models.
"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's managing director, Michael van der Sande.
"At Special Vehicle Operations 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 Personalization, and Classic is a key step in our strategy to create an exciting and diverse portfolio of products and businesses within Special Vehicle Operations."
All Bowler businesses—manufacturing, motorsport, and brand management—will be folded together as SVO's fourth standalone branch, and will not be an underling to the automaker's existing performance division SV.
"Bowler will operate as a separate business, with its operational team reporting to Special Vehicle Operations Managing Director Michael van der Sande," explained JLR's Vice President of Communications for North America, Stuart Schorr, to The Drive. "The Bowler team's expertise complements that of our SV, Vehicle Personalisation, and Classic teams. We intend to grow the Bowler business and in time will look to leverage the synergies between Bowler and other Special Vehicle Operations businesses."
Schorr couldn't comment on what Bowler will first produce under new ownership, but our money's on there being an all-conquering, Defender-based brute in the pipeline.
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