James Bond is Turning 60 — and Land Rover is Celebrating by Competing in an Off Road Rally in a 007 Land Rover Defender

A Girls Guide To Cars | James Bond Is Turning 60 — And Land Rover Is Celebrating By Competing In An Off Road Rally In A 007 Land Rover Defender - Featured Image 680X3501 1

A milestone anniversary, a special car and an off-road rally deserves a celebration.

It’s hard to believe James Bond is celebrating 60 years. This ageless and thrilling franchise deserves a celebration that just as thrilling, so Land Rover created a 007-themed Defender and entered in the 2022 Bowler Defender Challenge, a multi-location off-road series in the UK.

But to ensure that the 007 Defender has a chance to win, Land Rover tapped rally race team Mark Higgins and Claire Williams. Higgins, a stunt driver and three-time British Rally champion was in the driver’s seat for the rally that started in North Wales in Dolgellau, Wales on March 26.

Higgins isn’t a stranger to 007. He has been at the wheel in four James Bond films –Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time to Die, even though Bond was not. For example, Money Penny drives a Land Rover in Skyfall and hired thugs pursue 007 in a Land Rover in Quantum of Solace, but the Land Rover Defender 90 takes center stage in parts of the most recent James Bond film, which is sadly the last for Daniel Craig – No Time to Die.

Related: Land Rover Defender 90 Luxury SUV: The Freedom of Time All to Yourself

Land Rover’s Bond Films History Runs Deep

The excitement that the Land Rover models lead in Bond’s movies are a natural; the brand has deep roots in the UK, so it’s role the Bond series rings authentic. Here are the models you’ll see in the Bond series:

  • Octopussy (1983) –Range Rover Rapport Huntsman
  • A View to A Kill (1985) –Range Rover
  • The Living Daylights (1987) –Land Rover Series III, Land Rover Series III armored, Range Rover
  • The World Is Not Enough (1999) –Land Rover Defender 90 custom
  • Die Another Day (2002) –Range Rover L322
  • Casino Royale (2006) –Range Rover Sport
  • Quantum of Solace (2008)–Ranger Rover Sport
  • Skyfall (2012) –Land Rover Defender, Land Rover Discovery 4, Range Rover L322 Series III
  • SPECTRE (2015) –Land Rover Defender Bigfoot, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover
  • No Time To Die (2021) –Land Rover Defender 2020, Land Rover Series III, Range Rover Series I, Range Rover Sport SVR
Land Rover Defender With 007 60Th Anniversary Logo

Custom logo celebrating 007’s 60th Anniversary. Photo credit: Land Rover

The Land Rover Defender 90 is Perfect for a Rally: It’s Tough but Luxurious

The rally racing Defender 90, with a trademark black and gold Bond logo on its roof and sides, is ideal for an off road rally. The Defender 90’s size–it’s a smaller 2-door SUV–and high ground clearance make it perfect for both fast tracking on flat ground and challenging obstacles like sand, mud or rocks. “The New Defender is a tough and capable vehicle when it leaves the production line and I’ve seen it perform really challenging stunts while on the set of No Time To Die,” said Higgins. “With the race-ready enhancements made by the Bowler team and with Claire by my side, we are confident we can have a great result.”

2022 Land Rover Range Rover: Royal Style in an Off-Road Package

Land Rover Defender 90 Rally Race Driver'S Seat

Land Rover Defender 90 Rally Race driver’s seat. Photo credit: Land Rover

Enhancing the Defender 90 for the Rally

While the Defender 90 is capable the way it rolls off the production line, it can be enhanced for racing. The Bond Defender, powered by Land Rover’s P300 Ingenium powertrain, features a host of safety modifications including:

  •  A full roll cage
  • Enhanced cooling for the engine and transmission
  • A sports exhaust
  • New rear roof spoiler
  • Strengthened 18-inch Bowler wheels with all-terrain tires
  • Custom suspension design with modified subframes
  • New springs and unique turrets for increased stiffness
Drive Shift Of Land Rover Defender 90

Inside the “cockpit” Photo credit: Land Rover

Bowler Defender Challenge: The Competition

The 2022 Challenge will run over seven UK-based rounds. Locations and dates will be announced later this year. Each Bowler Defender Challenge-equipped team will face a true mix of rally conditions. There are 12 slots available for the race series and each team competes in identical Bowler-prepared Defender vehicles. Both veterans and those with little to no competition experience are allowed to enter. Sign me up!

Bowler offers training and support to inexperienced drivers before moving directly to the series. “The Challenge has been an ideal platform on which to gain motorsport know-how before joining other Bowlers and competing in rally-raid events across the globe.” The Challenge focuses on creating a fun environment that fosters the development of driving and competition skills. The idea is to make all drivers feel like they are part of a real motorsport family.

Related: Have Fun, Be Confident, Get Muddy: Land Rover Driving School is the Experience of a Lifetime

Roof Of Land Rover Defender With 007 Logo

Even from the air, you can’t miss this anniversary celebrating car. Photo Credit: Land Rover

The Land Rover Defender Delivers, Even If You’re Not Rallying

That ability to climb mountains and ford creeks is great when you’re off-roading, but many of us just want the confidence to get through tough situations if we need to, whether we actually ever need to or not. So we look to brands like Land Rover for that security. “The new model represents 70 years of innovation and improvement; honoring the vehicle’s history while thoroughly remaining a Defender for the 21st century.”

Founded in 1948, and designed and built in the UK, the brand has built a reputation for providing some of the most capable and luxurious SUVs in the world. And while they are capable for off-road driving, we tend to love them just as much in the city for the comforts and confidence they provide.

The Defender 90 takes this idea to another level. With its shorter size and two versus four doors, it’s the “un-mom” car, designed to take you where you want to go, off the grid or out to dinner. Or to posh and thrilling Bond-like adventures.

Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, Jenn fondly remembers annual trips to the International Auto Show and... More about Jenn Mitchell