This bright yellow head-turner is a rare Bowler Wildcat – number eight of around only 100 manufactured – owned by 26-year-old Jake Fish of Bishops Stortford.
The Wildcat is an off-road dream machine originally made by Bowler Offroad. It is big brother to the Tomcat and it utilises many components from the legendary work-horse, the Land Rover Defender.
Bowler Wildcat has a tough roll cage built into space frame
The Wildcat has a tubular space frame construction incorporating a tough roll cage. Body panels are made of fiberglass.
The suspension system uses Discovery beam axles front and rear.
Bowler originally offered the Wildcat with a choice of 4, 4.6 or 5 litre displacement V8 engines in several levels of engine tuning, or a 2.2 or 2.5 litre turbo diesel.
The Wildcat attained notoriety among the car loving public when it was featured on Top Gear. While putting it through its paces (safely) accident prone presenter Richard Hammond declared himself “a driving god”.
The Wildcat stands out from the crowd
Aside from its obvious advantages, what attracted 26-year-old Jake to the Wildcat? “The wildcat is a pretty rare thing, it stands out from the crowd, and I get fed up seeing lots of the same car, or cars that look like each other, on the road” he explained.
Jake’s Bowler Wildcat has a Rover V8 4.6 litre engine re-bored to a 4.8 and a longer crankshaft to get it up to 5 litre power output, forged pistons and billet connecting rods.
The resulting drive is “hairy at low speeds” but there’s lots of power, though it’s 16 years old now and not as fast as most modern cars. But gunning along, full throttle, in the tall but light Bowler Wildcat with absolutely no traction control aids, can be “interesting”.
The Wildcat was built for long range desert racing so it can take a lot of punishment and, unsurprisingly, Jake, a forestry worker, confirms it handles better off the road than on it.
Jake’s Bowler Wildcat is fully street legal
That doesn’t stop him using the Bowler Wildcat as his day car – its fully street legal – and it causes other motorists to take a second look when he pulls up alongside them. It’s bright yellow and very loud.
He explained: “Most people tend to look at the Wildcat with their mouths open utterly confused as to what it is. When it starts to sink it they generally give me a giant thumbs up.”
Jake’s first experience of off-road driving came when he was eight or nine on the family farm. Despite that he hasn’t taken part in any rallies in the Wildcat yet.
“I’ve owned it a couple of years but it’s a bit of a rare breed now with being number 8 of around 100 originals, so I don’t want to write it off. Maybe one day I will enter a rally in it, if I win the lottery” he said.
“I would upgrade Bowler Wildcat for a Bulldog or Merc G-Wagon”
The Bowler Wildcat is a thirsty beast and Jake says his main interest other than driving the off roader is earning enough cash to keep it topped up with petrol.
He loves the Wildcat but he is not averse to the idea of upgrading it for the update, a Bowler Bulldog or perhaps a Mercedes G-Wagon.
The proud owner keeps the Wildcat in tip-top running order with the help of Mark Fish Motorsports, which is run by Jake’s uncle. The company also services and repairs many track cars, racing cars and other performance vehicles.
One of the most difficult things about owning a Bowler Wildcat is finding 4×4 insurance at a reasonable price, especially being a driver as young as Jake.
Luckily, someone pointed him in the right direction: “A good friend suggested HIC might be able to help me out with something a bit specialist and they did.”
HIC had no trouble finding suitable cover for the Bowler Wildcat
Peter Cook, general manager at HIC, said: “HIC have always been up for a challenge. Finding the right cover at the right price is at the core of what we do day-in day-out.
“In fact, HIC started more than 25 years ago trying to find cover for a customer with a modified Volkswagen.
“Fast forward to today and trying to find an insurance company to cover a Bowler Wildcat without breaking the bank is like child’s plays for the team here.
“Jake found this out when he spoke to HIC to get cover for his unusual vehicle.”