Bless the Hero Who Spent $580 on This Rare Saturn SL ‘Limited Edition’ Diecast
Let’s put it this way, you can buy a real, working Saturn for this kind of money.
If diecast car collectors and diehard Saturn owners have one thing in common, it's the ability to spend exorbitant sums on their respective hobbies. Model car collectors will justify any expense to expand their displays, and in the name of keeping their quaint cars on the road, Saturnists will do the same. One would assume overlap between these two groups is what fueled a recent eBay bidding war that resulted in a 1:18 scale 1998 Saturn SL2 die-cast model selling for nearly $600, which is more than you'd pay for a running, driving Saturn S-series.
According to the certificate of authenticity included with the model, this SL2 was one of 50,000 such die-casts produced. An archived eBay listing suggests they were initially handed out at the 1997 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan to promote the second-generation Saturn S-series, though a photo of an invoice implies they were later sold through Saturn dealers at $59.95 each, or approximately $87.61 today. That's a pretty penny to spend on a die-cast, especially one as unglamorous as a Saturn SL2. That being said, collectors did get a quality model for their money.
Being 1:18 scale models, these S-series came in at close to a foot in length, making them the perfect desk ornament for the Saturn enthusiast. Their bodies were painted in the same colors as their full-size brethren, and their hoods, trunks, and doors—skinned in plastic like the real deal—all opened to reveal detailed engine and interior castings. Even the SL2's underbody was recreated faithfully in "post-industrial, recycled polymer from Saturn cars," making this model just as much an oddity as the car that inspired it.
No matter how good a model this is though, it's tough to call it worthy of the 43-bid bidding war that drove its hammer price to $580 before shipping. That's in the same neighborhood as bigger, more detailed, more attractive models like a 1:12 scale Ferrari Formula 1 car, or even better, a real Saturn S-series. A simple search of used car classifieds can find you dozens of S-series for less than $500, most of them in rough shape, but a few in driving condition nonetheless. Between what amounts to a toy and a real set of wheels, we know which we'd rather have, though something tells us this car went to someone who already drives a Saturn and cherishes it more than some do.
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