We’re getting used to seeing collaborative releases with Aston Martin and the James Bond franchise, giving us 007 themed cars that we have come to look forward to and crave after. It was a surprise though to see that a Land Rover Defender has got in on the act now too, with the Bowler Challenge 007 Defender 90, specifically for this year’s rally outing.
The Bowler Defender Challenge is a one-make rally series regulated by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) which describes itself as a ’feeder series’ for endurance races like the notoriously challenging Dakar Rally. In 2022 there will be seven rounds spread across the UK featuring 12 teams racing in Bowler Defenders. Bowler of course, has built up a fine reputation for creating some very fine award-winning and practical vehicle designs over the years. This James Bond 007 Defender has been prepared by Bowler’s high performance division and is unmistakeable with huge gold numbers on the side along with the iconic James Bond 007 gun logo. The 60 refers to the fact that we are, unbelievably, celebrating the 60th anniversary of James Bond in 2022, with the iconic franchise as strong now as it has ever been. In addition to the side decals, all 27 James Bond movies are written in gold letters along the tailgate and on the bonnet in their respective movie logos.
The reason that the Bowler 007 Defender exists is because in this case the designated driver is none other than Mark Higgins, British Rally Champion on three occasions and Daniel Craig’s stunt double in Craig’s last Bond outing, No Time to Die. Higgins is behind the wheel of the beautiful Aston Martin DB5 during 3 movie chase scenes set in Italy. He has some 4×4 stunt history too, as Higgins was also the stunt driver for the Toyota Land Cruiser chase, which was filmed in Scotland and Norway, so the step towards a James Bond Defender is a relatively small one. He even got to do donuts in the DB5 in Rome at the premiere of No Time to Die!
The Bowler Challenge Defender features a powerful 2-litre turbo petrol 4-cylinder engine with 296bhp with a P300 Ingenium powertrain. 18-inch strengthened alloys with all-terrain tyres bounce along on tweaked suspension and modified subframes and new springs. A full roll cage has been added along with enhanced engine and transmission cooling and a competition rear spoiler.
Higgins is confident about the new vehicle, which got its first official Bowler Challenge outing in North Wales on 26th March; he says that having seen the stunt Defender perform in No Time to Die and with the new racing enhancements made by Bowler, it should prove to be a winning combo. Higgins won’t be alone of course, his co-driver will be experienced EWRC racer, Claire Williams.
Whilst we all (car lovers or not) associate James Bond with the unforgettable silver Aston Martin, it should be remembered that Land Rover has a long-standing history of being featured in Bond movies too, and a Land Rover Series III is driven by Craig in No Time to Die, a nod back to 1987 when a Series III featured in 1987’s Living Daylights. Higgins himself has been Craig’s car driving stunt double in all his Bond outings, from Quantum of Solace, to Skyfall, Spectre and this final movie.
So how did he do in that first Rally North Wales outing in Dolgellau you might be wondering? He won. Although Higgins has a soft spot for the last Daniel Craig outing, he will clearly be keeping the Bond theme alive just a little bit longer.
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