Bowler is not a well-known automaker, and with good reason. Its vehicles, based on Land Rover mechanicals, aren't street legal. They're rally-raid off-road racing machines;
The company was recently bought up by CPP – the same Coventry-based coachbuilder that now owns Spyker as well. Bowler's new managing director Steve Haywood comes to the company from his previous position as chief engineer at Land Rover, so he knows a thing or two about producing capable off-roaders.
Company founder Drew Bowler will remain responsible for the motorsports division, but the arrival of Haywood means Bowler will mount an assault on the street-legal performance SUV market.
His first responsibility will be launching
*UPDATE: The good folks at Bowler were kind enough to point out that its latest vehicles are no longer based on the Defender, but on Range Rover platforms, and that the upcoming new fourth-generation model previewed in prototype form at Goodwood will not be called the Nemesis.
FORMER LAND ROVER CHIEF ENGINEER APPOINTED MANAGING DIRECTOR OF BOWLER
Steve Haywood, former Chief Engineer at Land Rover, has been appointed Managing Director of Bowler, the British manufacturer of all-terrain supercars.
Haywood, 51, joins Bowler following its acquisition in January 2011 by CPP, a specialist automotive group based in Coventry. He will be responsible for establishing and delivering Bowler's new business plan, as well as finalising the development of Bowler's all-new fourth generation model, which, like all previous Bowler vehicles, is based on Land Rover technology.
Haywood will also join CPP's board of directors, providing guidance on engineering and product development to all brands across the group.
For the first time in Bowler's history, a fully-homologated road car variant will be engineered alongside the rally-raid model, and it is this project in particular which Steve will guide from a new Bowler production base within CPP's expanding facility in Coventry. An early engineering prototype of the all-new fourth generation Bowler, will be making an appearance at the forthcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend (1 to 3 July).
Drew Bowler, the company's founder, will continue to lead Bowler's motorsport activities. Drew will oversee the development, production and sales of the rally-raid models. The motorsport side of the business will remain based in Belper, Derbyshire.
Haywood is excited by his new role: "Having worked at Land Rover for so much of my career I have long been a fan of Bowler and have great respect for what Drew has achieved. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Bowler just as it is embarking on a new and exciting chapter. The prospect of leading the business into new territory, harnessing Bowler's motorsport pedigree to bring to market our first road car, and to use that development as a catalyst to grow the business, was simply too enticing to resist.
"My role is all the more appealing because CPP's investment and commitment to growing the Bowler business in Coventry, a city where I was born, went to University, served my engineering apprenticeship and spent much of my career. I'm relishing the prospect of leading a business that can bring jobs, expertise and investment to the city and helping CPP to achieve its ambition of re-establishing the city as a UK automotive sector centre of excellence."
Welcoming Haywood's appointment, Drew Bowler said: "I'm delighted that Steve has joined the Bowler family. With his product development experience and enthusiasm for off-road competition and motorsport, there's no doubt that the future of Bowler is in safe hands.
"He will be able to ensure that, while growing the business commercially, Bowler retains the essence of what makes it so special: cars conceived and developed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. I look forward to working with him while also focusing on what I enjoy most – the research, development, build and aftersales support of the customer racing products."
Brendan O'Toole, founder and managing director of CPP, added: "I'm thrilled to have Steve on board to lead Bowler as it progresses into a new era. I've tasked Steve with establishing Bowler as a globally recognised brand, and with establishing a completely new supercar niche with the new vehicle and its successors. We're committed to that ambition, and Steve will have at his disposal the combined resources of CPP in Coventry, and Drew's team in Belper. Motorsport will always be fundamental to Bowler and the new products will carry forward the Bowler rally-raid DNA with the firm intention to race competitively in the coming years.
"There's incredible potential for Bowler to take major strides forward over the next few years and Steve is the perfect man to have at the helm," he concludes.
During a distinguished 20-year career at Land Rover, Haywood occupied senior Product Development, Engineering and Commercial roles. Leading the Freelander, Discovery 2 and Discovery 3 projects to launch, subsequent roles saw Haywood heading up teams tasked with improving operational efficiency across the business, including global supply chain development and overseeing the engineering of new and innovative lightweight platforms, which will come to market in the next generation of Range Rover products. After leaving Jaguar Land Rover in early 2010, Haywood consulted independently for a number of confidential vehicle programmes in the UK, before joining Bowler.