Derbyshire-based firm which specialises in Land Rover models has been acquired by JLR

Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations arm has acquired Bowler, the off-road Land Rover tuner, securing its future following administration. 

Bowler rose to fame tuning Land Rover models and specialises in off-road performance cars and competition cars for rally-raid events. 

JLR, which bought Bowler for an undisclosed sum, said the all-terrain specialist has expertise in “all-terrain vehicle dynamics, low-volume production techniques, and proving the durability of components under extreme conditions”, all of which is “highly sought-after”.

It added that SVO is a “fast-growing business that amplifies the key attributes of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles to create distinctive world-class products – including SV, Vehicle Personalisation and Classic”. Bowler, as a fourth business unit, is “a natural fit”, said the firm.

In 2012, Bowler formed a brand partnership with JLR which led to the creation of the Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series in 2014 to 2016.

JLR SVO boss Michael van der Sande told Autocar that there was a two-part plan for Bowler. The first is to stabilise the business for six months to a year “giving it the organisation and investment it needs,” said van der Sande.

The business, which is based in Belper, Derbyshire, will remain at this location. The day-to day team of 26 staff will remain, but "some people will no longer be involved," said a spokesman given the change in shareholders.

In the meantime, JLR will develop plans for the business, but van der Sande disclosed no more details beyond the fact that it will become bigger. 

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The likelihood is that the Bowler name will be used on Land Rover models as extreme, off-road variants. 

“We think it’s a cool company that shows there’s a great deal you can do with Land Rovers,” commented van der Sande.

The purchase will be seen by many as a shrewd move from Jaguar Land Rover, given its long-standing objection to Land Rover tuners taking business away. A number of tuning and styling firms exist predominantly for Land Rover models, including Overfinch, Twisted and Kahn.

In 2017, Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern vowed to put third-party styling houses and tuners out of business by creating better variants of the brand’s models through the company’s own Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division. However, Bowler is somewhat of a niche firm given its all-terrain and rally expertise, an area on which JLR will be keen to capitalise.

In an official statement announcing the acquisition today, van der Sande said: “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. 

“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 Personalisation and Classic is a key step in our strategy to create an exciting and diverse portfolio of products and businesses within Special Vehicle Operations. 

“Our immediate focus is on ensuring continuity of support for Bowler employees and customers during this transition to Jaguar Land Rover.” 

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Comments
18

18 December 2019

Hopefully, this is good news. I met Drew Bowler at Goodwood a few years ago and he was one of the nicest, funniest people you could wish to meet and a brilliant engineer. This is a fitting development for his legacy.

18 December 2019

Branding opportunities?

'Nice car. What is it?'

'Thanks, it's a Range Rover Velar SVAutobiographyDynamicRBowler. It comes with firmer rear springs to support the weight of the badge on the boot.'

18 December 2019
scrap wrote:

Branding opportunities?

'Nice car. What is it?'

'Thanks, it's a Range Rover Velar SVAutobiographyDynamicRBowler. It comes with firmer rear springs to support the weight of the badge on the boot.'

 

And it ll never be used for what it was designed for (going off road), we will only use it to pick the kids up from school, thereby increasing their chances of getting type 2 diabetes and increasing the amount of crap we pollute the environment with.

18 December 2019
typos1 wrote:

scrap wrote:

Branding opportunities?

'Nice car. What is it?'

'Thanks, it's a Range Rover Velar SVAutobiographyDynamicRBowler. It comes with firmer rear springs to support the weight of the badge on the boot.'

 

And it ll never be used for what it was designed for (going off road), we will only use it to pick the kids up from school, thereby increasing their chances of getting type 2 diabetes and increasing the amount of crap we pollute the environment with.

 

Mediocre humor aside, when was the last time you saw a Bowler modified Land Rover, (rather than one with simply the badge stuck on the door) doing the school run, no doubt you can quote the reg mark, as that would have been a sight to remember?. 

18 December 2019

 Yeah , I think so, will it sell more cars for JLR., no, but then it'll be bespoke, with a suitable juicy price too.

18 December 2019

At first reading, this news seems an encouraging sign that Land Rover May be trying to connect with its off-road roots, and I've no doubt some genuinely desirable vehicles will result in future. The downside, I suspect, is that LR intends to introduce niche vehicles at six figure prices aimed at the wealthy. This could well make commercial sense, but we're highly unlikely to see "working" vehicles suited to farmers, contractors, utilities, and the military. Bowler was never in that market, and LR won't be either.

289

19 December 2019

.... I would love to see the EXR-S back in production.....what a beast! They were around £150k a pop when in production I seem to remember, plenty of money slopping around amongst the rich to pay for this.

18 December 2019
I'm sure they're brimming with ideas.

18 December 2019

Wonder if Jim Ratcliffe saw this smart move by JLR coming?

18 December 2019
xxxx wrote:

Wonder if Jim Ratcliffe saw this smart move by JLR coming?

I shouldn't think he's bothered as Grenadier are going for the lower price points for their vehicles 

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