FLW battalion commander has an interesting car collection
By Ryan Thompson
Public Affairs Office
There’s a common aphorism — idle hands are the devil’s playground — that means boredom can get us into trouble.
For Lt. Col. Brandon Bowman, 5th Engineer Battalion commander, having idle hands is not an option.
“I can’t just sit around at home,” Bowman said. “I’m not a big video-game player. I need something that keeps my mind and hands busy.”
Bowman’s hobby is car collecting, and he said it’s a labor of love that occupies much of his spare time.
“Since getting the Land Rover, I’m spending a couple of hours every weekend working on it,” he said. “It depends when the parts come in.”
Bowman is referring to his 1967 Land Rover Series 2A which is the most recent addition to his collection.
“It has no power steering, first and second gears aren’t synchronized, the windshield wipers are one speed and you have to turn the gage lights on manually,” he said.
Bowman speaks fondly of his classic car, even with its idiosyncrasies.
“The operator has to tell the vehicle what to do,” he said. “Everything is mechanical. It’s just a fun car to drive.”
A passion for automobiles developed at an early age for Bowman.
“My dad had a ‘66 Corvette and the first vehicle I ever owned as a 16-year-old was a ‘61 Chevy pickup, which I learned to drive in,” he said. “It was cheap and easy to work on.”
Bowman said working on classic cars can sometimes be very challenging, though, and this is made apparent by another vehicle in Bowman’s collection.
“I have a 1962 TVR Grand Tour,” he said. “It’s kind of a Frankenstein car. The engines (in TVRs) came from Ford or MG, the suspension is off a Volkswagen and I got door handles off a Ford.”
Bowman said it can be difficult tracking down parts for a car that was pieced together at the factory using so many parts from other manufacturers. Fortunately, however, there is a lot of knowledge available that was gathered by other collectors.
“I have a spread sheet that people have put together over time showing where this part was originally sourced and came from,” he said. “So when I’m ordering parts, I have to scour the internet and I have to know what I am asking for.”
Bowman said there can also be language barriers when it comes to finding parts for a car that hasn’t been in production for years.
“When my brake drums went out I found them … from a guy in Germany,” he said. “I had to use Google Translate to talk to the gentleman.”
Bowman also has a 2006 Aston Martin Vantage.
“I was deploying a lot and I was thinking about buying a Corvette or a Challenger,” he said.
Bowman contemplated adding speed parts like a supercharger to an American muscle car but decided to go with something different.
“I started to take a look at what else I could get with the money,” he said. “I found the Aston Martin … bought it sight unseen and had it shipped to my parents’ house. When I got back from my deployment, there it was. It’s just fun having something different than everybody else.”
For Bowman the enjoyment isn’t all about working on cars, it’s also important for him to be able to drive the vehicles in his collection.
“I don’t like fully restored ones because you have a fear of driving them,” he said. “One of the reasons I like the Land Rover is because it has dents in it — paint chipped off of it.”
Bowman said he knows of a guy who did a full restoration of a Land Rover.
“He can’t enjoy the truck now because he doesn’t want to take it out of the garage,” he said.
Bowman said he hopes to pass his love of cars to his son. He plans on keeping his Aston Martin because he believes that is the car his son would like the most as he gets older.
He gave some advice for others interested in getting into car collecting.
“Do a lot of research online,” he said. “When I bought the TVR I didn’t know a lot about MG motors. That was back before they had a lot of YouTube videos. There was a long learning curve.”
Bowman said he has spent countless hours watching videos and asking questions in forums to learn about such things as rebuilding a carburetor or replacing parts.
Bowman also suggested that it’s smarter to start with something small and cheap.
“Work your way up,” he said. “It’s (also) good to have a support group. If you get to something that is beyond your ability, there are other people available to help you out.”