The Land Rover Defender is one of the most capable SUVs on the market today. Straight out of the dealership, it is ready to take on some of the toughest terrain conditions possible with its superb four-wheel drive system and off-roading capabilities.
But what if you want it to go rallying? Well, why look at Bowler Motors' new build for some inspiration.
Bowler Motors is known for building some of the craziest rally raid and off-roading Land Rover models to date. Remember the V8-powered CSP 575 based on the original Defender 110? That's just one of their works. The company is also officially part of Jaguar-Land Rover following an acquisition in 2019.
Unlike the resurrected Defender with a supercharged V8 motor, Bowler didn't make major changes to the new Defender to transform it into a rally-ready machine. Nearly all of the standard body panels remain but Bowler stripped the interior and fitted an FIA-spec roll cage. No more leather seats too. Instead, the driver and occupant are strapped in OMP bucket seats complete with 6-point racing harnesses. Interestingly, the 10-inch infotainment screen remains, but you probably won't be able to fiddle with it mid rally. Below that are new electronic components, including fire protection and a battery cut-off switch.
The rally-ready SUV uses the regular Defender 90 as a base. Unfortunately, it's not the one with a 525 HP V8 engine. Instead, it uses a 2.0-liter Ingenium gasoline engine with 300 horsepower paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Rather than focusing on power, Bowler focused on improving handling. The Defender uses upgraded subframes and a custom suspension setup from Fox, raising the SUV by 1-inch. Other handling upgrades include 18-inch Borbet wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich all-terrain tires and reinforced underbody components.
While Bowler kept the body as original as possible, there are some changes that include a new front grille to improve cooling and a rear spoiler with extra lights. The rear-mounted spare tire has been ditched and the front bumper has been tweaked to fit the underbody protection. The windows have also been replaced with polycarbonate units to reduce weight. Meanwhile, a snorkel helps keep the engine from sucking in water. Completing the rally look are the mudflaps.
The rally-spec Defender isn't just for show either. Bowler will take this SUV rallying in its own championship series coming 2022. Competitors will all run the same rally-spec Defender built by Bowler.