Most drivers will not remember a marque known as the Kaiser, but older consumers and enthusiasts will remember the briefly popular post-World War II lineup of Kaiser-brand cars sold by Kaiser Motor between 1945 and 1955.
Along with sister-brand Frazer, they exuded opulence but quickly became outdated by the advances of their rivals, namely the Big Three automakers.
Now, Korea’s Ssangyong Motor, thought to be a goner by many analysts just a few years ago, is bringing the name back to label the vehicle succeeding its fullsize luxury sedan, the Chairman W.
Without public fanfare, Ssangyong quietly registered the name Chairman Kaiser with the Korean patent office in September.
However, the new Kaiser marque that will replace the Chairman W will not be a revolutionary departure from the three grades of the vehicle that are available now. In fact, it will be somewhere in between a facelift and a new model, a spokesman tells WardsAuto.
“There are many new convenience features, some interior and exterior design changes, but there will be no powertrain change,” the spokesman says.
All design, engineering and other development work was done in-house at Ssangyong’s vehicle design and development center that is integrated with its solitary vehicle assembly plant in Pyongtaek.
Like the Chairman W, the Kaiser will be available with the 3.2L and 3.6L DOHC inline 6-cyl. engines that Ssangyong produces at its own plant in Changwon. The top trim model will be powered by a 300-hp 5.0L SOHC V-8 imported from Mercedes-Benz. All three models will be equipped with a Mercedes-Benz 7-speed automatic transmission.
Asked why Ssangyong chose the Kaiser name, the spokesman says “in German it means emperor, higher than a king. And like the name ‘Chairman,’ it means dignity. It is a vehicle for people who care and have dignity. It’s a good name.”
Last year, only 1,290 units of the Chairman W were sold, compared with 6,624 in 2008, when the marque was launched to replace the Chairman H.
The Chairman H had debuted in 1997. In its heyday in 2005, 15,124 units were sold.
The spokesman says Chairman W sales dropped because the product was aging, and there was growing competition from foreign luxury marques, including the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Audi A8.
It is rumored the Kaiser may be displayed at the Busan International Motor Show in June.
No production or sales launch date has been disclosed.