Media Land Rover

The original Land Rover Defender lives on. Sort of.

While you might imagine that Land Rover has turned its back on the old Defender, particularly now that the all-new (and thoroughly excellent) one is here, you would be quiet wrong.

No, it seems the old Defender is going to live on for a bit longer yet, albeit in a drastically different form. Well, actually, that’s not the right word, because it’s still the same shape, but everything else is different...

Land Rover has just given the well-known maker of utterly mad competition Land Rovers, Bowler, permission to produce vehicles using the classic Defender body shape in what it is saying is “the next phase of development for the UK based manufacturer of all-terrain performance cars and rally raid vehicles.”

What this basically means is that Bowler (which is now actually part of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division) is going to make road legal cars now, starting with what is codenamed CSP 575 that you see here.

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Based on Bowler’s own rally-proven CSP high-strength steel chassis, CSP 575 sports aluminium alloy Defender 110 Station Wagon body panels and Jaguar Land Rover’s awesome 423kW (575PS, where it gets its name) 5.0-litre supercharged V8.

Bowler says the CSP 575 was “created using our 35 years’ experience of building International Rally Raid cars, with engineering support from our friends at Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations” and that it will be a road-going car with room for four – and their luggage – within the “iconic shape of the original Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon.”

Calling it “an off-road car designed for the road”, Bowler also says that the CSP 575 will come with a full safety cage as well as air conditioning. Nice to cover all bases.

Founded in 1985, Bowler pioneered the production of dedicated off-road competition cars in the UK. Jaguar Land Rover acquired Bowler at the end of 2019 and made it part of its Special Vehicle Operations division.

“We’re excited to announce the first major project since our acquisition of Bowler,” said Michael van der Sande, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations.

“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.”

The new model will be manufactured in “very small quantities” at Bowler’s headquarters in Derbyshire, UK, by the same engineers and technicians producing its competition 4x4s.

Bowler says the CSP 575 is targeted at customers in the UK and “select European and overseas markets” and its indicative pricing is around £200,000 (NZ$390,000) in the UK.

While there’s currently no word on whether New Zealand was a “select overseas market”, Jaguar Land Rover New Zealand’s general manager, Steve Kenchington did say “Having Bowler create this high-performance road-goer is yet another favour to the heritage of the Defender. It’s great to see the Land Rover name, care of Bowler Motors amongst some of the toughest motorsport events.”