Land Rover Bowler Defender Challenge: Short on Finesse, Big on Fun


Land Rover Bowler Defender Challenge: Short on Finesse, Big on Fun

Land Rover isn’t commonly associated with the faster and more exciting forms of motorsports. The British SUV maker was formerly known for its patronage of the Camel Trophy and later G4 Challenge, but both of these competitions prioritized slow, cerebral performance above never-lift thrills. When it comes to off-roading, Land Rover’s guiding motto has always been “as slow as possible, as fast as necessary.”

The new Bowler Defender Challenge reverses those principles in spectacular style. It’s a rally version of the new Defender 90 that has been designed to attack terrain at speed and soak up the sort of punishment that would break regular SUVs in short order. Up to a dozen identically prepared Challenge cars are going to be competing in a six-round championship series in Britain next year, with hopes of bringing something similar to the United States.

Bowler has been modifying Land Rovers for off-road competition since 1985. Its best-known products are probably the Wildcat and Nemesis, V-8-powered monsters on a spaceframe chassis with styling cues from the last-generation Defender and Range Rover Sport. The company also made a rallying version of the old Defender, and the original Defender Challenge used identical spec cars and ran in the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2016. This was popular, but not enough to prevent Bowler from going bankrupt in 2019; the company subsequently was bought by Jaguar Land Rover and placed in the Special Operations Division. For the full story, check out this article from Car And Driver.

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