Auctions

7 Bowler Land Rovers that will knock you for six

by Andrew Newton
14 January 2021 4 min read
7 Bowler Land Rovers that will knock you for six
Photos: RM Sotheby's/Tom Gidden

With model names such as Tomcat, Wildcat, Nemesis, and Bulldog, it’s fair to say that a Bowler Land Rover is not for shy, retiring types. The British company, based out the outskirts of Derby, has been modifying Defenders since 1985 and made such a name for itself that by 2019 Jaguar Land Rover came knocking on its door – and bought the company.

Next month a group of seven Bowlers and Bowler-modified vehicles will be up for auction at the RM Sotheby’s Paris sale February 13, without a reserve price. All are offered from the collection of Richard Hayward, who ran Bowler from 2016 (after the death of company founder Drew Bowler) until 2019. They range from a lightly hotted-up turbodiesel to a 500-plus horsepower V8 prototype.

How much is your car to insure? Find out in four easy steps.
Get a quote

If you fancy the idea of owning a big toy for boys or, indeed, girls, here they are in all their apocalyptic ruggedness.

2010 Land Rover Defender SVX “Spectre”

2010 Land Rover Defender SVX “Spectre”

In the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, the second big chase scene is a great one. Bond flies a small plane through (and eventually on top of) the Austrian Alps, hunting down a group of baddies driving appropriately menacing-looking, modified black Land Rovers.

For the movie, the producers hired Bowler to modify 10 Santorini Black Defender 110 crew-cab pickups with special suspension, 37-inch tires, a full roll cage, and a tuned engine. After filming, a few of the movie vehicles then entered the private market, with one selling in London in 2017 for £230,000  and another one – damaged for the movie – sold in Essen in 2019 for €115,000. One also sold, reportedly to Gordon Ramsay, for £365,500 at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

2010 Land Rover Defender SVX “Spectre”

This Bowler-modified Defender on offer in Paris isn’t a movie car but a one-off commission done in 2019 to similar bad guy specs, including the black paint, tuned engine, and beefed up suspension.

2013 Land Rover Defender 90 “Challenge”

2013 Land Rover Defender 90 “Challenge”

From 2014 until 2016, the “Defender Challenge” was a one-make off-road race series here in Britain. The racers were all based on Land Rover 90 hardtops modified by Bowler, with an engine tune, custom-made Bilstein shocks, beefier anti-roll bars, roll cage, racing seats, intercom, and safety equipment.

This one is represented as the very first Defender Challenge built, used for PR and featured in both Car and Evo magazines. It also features a brake upgrade and a Stage 2 tune for 195 horsepower and 380 lbft of torque, up from the 120 hp/266 lbft in the standard Defender.

2013 Land Rover Defender 90 “Challenge”

2015 Land Rover Defender 90 Hardtop XS

2015 Land Rover Defender 90 Hardtop XS

As a 2015 model with fewer than 8000 miles on the clock, this Defender 90 XS is one of the very last “original” Defenders, and it was modified by Bowler under the supervision of the company’s founder, Drew Bowler.

A 2.2-litre turbodiesel model, it comes with Bowler’s “Fast Road” suspension with uprated Bilstein coil springs and dampers, Stage 1 engine tune, 18-inch Bowler alloy wheels, Bowler gear shifter, and Momo steering wheel. There are also lightweight Bowler bumpers, side rails, a steering guard, and rear steps. And in case there’s any doubt who’s responsible for all these tweaks, a gigantic red Bowler logo is plastered across the side of the car.

2015 Land Rover Defender 90 Hardtop XS

2015 Land Rover Defender 110 Landmark XS

2015 Land Rover Defender 110 Landmark XS

As the original Defender was nearing the end of the line in 2015, a special edition called the “Landmark” debuted as a sendoff for the off-road icon. What makes a Landmark edition special is its extra-plush interior, but this one is even better in that it is one of the handful of Lanmark Defender 110s modified by Bowler.

Visually, the Bowler-modified version is distinguished by body color roof panel and wheelarches (instead of black), the 18-inch alloy wheels (up from the standard 16-inchers), and the Bowler script on the nose. Underneath, it has a Stage 1 engine tune and Bowler’s “Fast Road” suspension.

2015 Land Rover Defender 110 Landmark XS

2015 Bowler Pennine V6 110 Prototype

2015 Bowler Pennine V6 110 Prototype

Bowler launched a Defender-chassis model in 2015 and called it the Pennine, after the hill range that spans nearly 250 miles in the north. While it doesn’t sound as menacing as previous Bowlers like the “Wildcat” and “Bulldog,” the Pennine nevertheless packs a serious punch with a 3-litre, 335bhp supercharged V6 and 8-speed ZF automatic lifted from the Jaguar F-Type.

Based around a Defender 110 crew-cab, this Pennine is represented as the prototype, and was tested by Top Gear magazine before becoming the last competition Bowler driven by the company founder Drew Bowler before his death in 2016.

2015 Bowler Pennine V6 110 Prototype

2016 Bowler CSP V8 Prototype “P1”

2016 Bowler CSP V8 Prototype “P1”

In 2015, Bowler embarked on a project backed by the British government aiming to develop a vehicle for use in defense, emergency response, and exploration. Called the Cross Sector Platform (CSP), it marked a change in direction for Bowler, moving away from the Defender’s antiquated ladder-frame and towards its own wholly proprietary chassis. It’s hard to leave the Defender’s good looks behind, however, so the basic silhouette still remains.

This CSP was used as a works development vehicle and is currently set up with long-distance rally equipment. Under the hood is the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 and ZF eight-speed also found in Jaguar Project 7 and F-Type SVR, a far cry from the turbodiesels in the old Defender.

2016 Bowler CSP V8 Prototype “P1”

2016 Bowler CSP V8 Prototype “P2”

2016 Bowler CSP V8 Prototype “P2”

This Bowler CSP was also a works development vehicle. It started life as a Bowler Bulldog with a Jaguar V6 engine but now houses a 5-litre supercharged Jag V8 with 540bhp and 516lbft of torque.

Autocar tested it in 2019 and put it on the list of “Top Ten Driver’s” cars of the year. Not bad, considering it was up alongside the McLaren 600LT, Lamborghini Huracan Evo, and Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S. It’s fitted with competition equipment, including a 90-litre fuel cell and a roll cage, but it’s usable enough that the vendor says it is “virtually a road car,” whatever that means.

2016 Bowler CSP V8 Prototype “P2”

Via Hagerty US.

You may also like

1967-ford-gt40 front three quarter action
Will This Road-Going GT40’s “Colourful” History Add to Its Auction Appeal?
King Charles Jaguar i-Pace 4
The King's Jag is Up for Grabs
Oshe Automotive Okovango Land Rover Defender
Oshe Automotive Brings Thunder to the Land Rover Defender
A story about

Your biweekly dose of car news from Hagerty in your inbox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More on this topic
Hagerty Newsletter
Get your weekly dose of car news from Hagerty UK in your inbox
Share

Thanks for signing up!

Your request will be handled as soon as possible