Rally raid off-road vehicle specialist Bowler has confirmed plans to build road-going versions of its Range Rover Sport-based ‘supercar SUV’ under its new boss.
Steve Haywood, the chief engineer who led the team that developed the latest Range Rover, has been appointed managing director of Derbyshire-based Bowler. He says his first job is to develop the company’s fourth-generation model, and to work on positioning and specification for a road-going version, tipped to cost around £150,000.
Bowler — bought recently by Coventry-based prototype maker CPP, which also owns Spyker and is in talks to buy Zagato — makes 15 to 20 rally raid vehicles a year, purely for racing. Haywood believes there is demand for 150 to 200 road-going versions a year, from customers who drive in extreme conditions and need a vehicle even tougher than higher-volume 4x4s.
“We have a tremendous opportunity,” he says. “Bowler has generated huge interest in past years for a street-legal version of the competition cars. But we’ll begin work on any new model quite slowly, taking care with its positioning and specifications, keeping all the recognition devices to maintain the pedigree, and listening carefully to the customer’s requirements.”
Haywood says Land Rover is happy with the way Bowler modifies its vehicles, and believes it provides “a nice halo” for the Gaydon-based 4x4 specialist, but there is no “business alignment” between the two.