Classic Land Rover Defender reborn as road-legal rally-raider
The original Land Rover Defender 110 will be resurrected as a high-performance road-legal rally-raid wagon with a 423kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8 under the bonnet.
And the case to determine whether it can be sold in Australia is underway.
Codenamed CSP 575, the project is officially sanctioned by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and is the first vehicle to emerge from the British manufacturer’s subsidiary Bowler Motors, which JLR acquired late last year to produce a raft of modified motorsport-inspired performance vehicles under its SVO division.
This could be a toe-in-the-water exercise before JLR allows Bowler – the cult British motorsport team that has created wild Land Rover-based off-road race cars since 1985 – to get its hands on the new-generation Land Rover Defender, which is ripe for some serious performance treatment.
First deliveries from a strictly limited (but not yet specified) production run out of Bowler’s facility in Derbyshire start in 2021 for the UK and Europe, with indicative pricing of £200,000 ($A365,000).
“Overseas markets” are also being targeted, and JLR Australia will now assess the response from would-be Aussie buyers ahead of the order books opening in the UK next year.
A spokesperson told carsales that “we will investigate the feasibility of offering these in Australia over the coming months” but added that the final spec could determine whether it will be suitable for import Down Under.
Using body panels from the classic L316 Defender, Bowler will build the bonkers off-roader on its own race-bred CSP high-strength steel ladder chassis using Land Rover’s stonking 423kW/700Nm 5.0-litre blown bent-eight found in the Range Rover Sport SVR and elsewhere.
The first new Bowler since 2016 and one of “a number” of projects the firm is working on under the SVO umbrella, the 110 4×4 racer will have four sports seats, a roll cage and at least some consideration of modern comfort and convenience with air-conditioning included.
Full details are being withheld until early 2021, with JLR saying only that Land Rover SV engineers are fully engaged in the project and that “the competition-inspired off-roader promises to combine potent performance and motorsport-honed durability in a classic Defender 110 station wagon shape”.
“Land Rover’s decision to issue Bowler with a licence agreement to build vehicles using the classic Defender shape is a natural progression of this relationship and the new station wagon project represents a unique undertaking – integrating the technology, components and engineering excellence underpinning Land Rover’s SV products with Bowler’s motorsport expertise and experience,” the car-maker said.
JLR Special Vehicle Operations managing director Michael van der Sande added: “We’re excited to announce the first major project since our acquisition of Bowler.
“The CSP 575 will combine supercharged V8 performance and four-seat practicality with Bowler’s rally raid-proven CSP platform, broadening the appeal of the brand.
“This high-performance road-going model will sit alongside Bowler’s evolving range of rally-raid models, which continue to enjoy success in the world’s toughest motorsport events,” he said.