Yet another automobile manufacturer to come out of South Korea, SsangYong was one of the later players to join the game when compared to other companies that started back in 30s and 40s. The original name for SsangYong Motor Company was Ha Dong-hwan it started out back in 1954 by building jeeps for the American army.
In 1966 the company started exporting buses to Brunei, then in 1967 to Vietnam. Apart from buses, they also started making hard and soft top jeeps, as well as a variety of special purpose vehicles.
The company changed its name yet again in 1977 when it became the Donga Motor Co., Ltd. The name SsangYong, which actually means “twin dragons” was adopted in 1988. That same year, the first series of the Korando, a station wagon.
The first major trade agreement SsangYong made was with Mercedes Benz AG in order to develop a gasoline-running engine in 1992. A year later, both agreed for a 5% joint investment and a technical alliance that had the purpose of developing a passenger car. In july of that year, the Musso wagon was introduced and the new generation for the Korando.
1997 saw the launch of the Chairman, a luxury sedan, a first for the company that had previously built only heavy-duty vehicles. Also that year, the controlling stake of the company was bought by fellow Korean manufacturer Daewoo Motor Company. The venture ended in 2000 when Daewoo was forced to sell because it was in financial trouble.
After being eyed by several international automakers, SsangYong saw 51% of its stake bought by the Chinese conglomerate SAIC (which stands for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) in 2004. Their lineup was completed by other models, such as the Rexton (2001), the Rodius (2004), the Kyron (2005) and the Actyon (2006).