Bowler unleashes the beast in the new Defender

Published: 29 July 2021

► Race series in 2022 for new Defender
► Rally raid experts Bowler prep the cars
► Could help make Dakar dreams come true

We’re used to seeing the Land Rover Defender as everything from a rural workhorse to a school-run Chelsea tractor – but here’s a reminder that it also has a strong competition heritage. That heritage has been reignited by Dakar veterans Bowler, the tuning and customising specialists bought by Land Rover in 2019, who have just revealed this purposeful-looking new Bowler Defender.

It’s been created specifically for a seven-round competition to be held in the UK, starting in March. The Bowler Defender Challenge will involve gravel, forest and hill rally stages, and has been designed to prepare drivers for a possible move into international rally raids – the ultimate example being January’s Dakar Rally, the world’s toughest race.

Priced from £99,500, a Bowler Defender Challenge package will get you a car and entry into the series. There will be 12 teams taking part, with training available for less experienced drivers.

The car itself is based on a Defender 90 with a 2.0-litre Ingenium turbo four. Modifications include a Bowler sports exhaust, tough 18in wheels, Fox dampers as part of a heavily modified suspension set-up, increased transmission cooling, a rollcage and extensive extra bracing to help the Defender withstand the rigours of off-road racing.

And if you just like the look but don’t fancy the commitment of the competition, you’ll be pleased to hear that accessories developed for the Bowler Defender Challenge will go on sale later this year.

By Colin Overland

CAR's managing editor: wordsmith, critic, purveyor of fine captions