Ben Parker
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“The O.C.” Stars Reveal Cast Was Offered Luxury Car Leases

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White 2005 Cadillac Escalade parked in a driveway
The 2005 Escalade measured 77 inches high, more than a foot taller than “The O.C.” star Rachel Bilson
Photo: Bejara70 via CC

In the latest episode of “Welcome to the OC, Bitches!” podcast with The O.C. stars Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke, the pair of hosts discussed the variety of swag they received while on the show. About halfway through episode four, it was revealed that the actors were often given free clothing, shoes, phones, bags, and — yes — even cars.

Swag-a-licious gifts

Early on in the episode, Melinda Clarke brought up the concept of swag (which she thought was an acronym for “shit which are given”). But one specific gift that actually blew her mind was the offer of a six-month car lease for a Lexus convertible. It turns out that Tate Donovan, who played her husband Jimmy Cooper on the show, was the only cast member to take the deal. Considering the timeframe, my guess is that it was a Lexus SC 430 — the hot car of the early 2000s.

White Lexus SC 430 parked in a driveway
The Lexus SC 430 was marketed as the “jewel of Lexus”
Photo: IFCAR via Public Domain

Bilson went on to reveal that she was given a Cadillac Escalade for a weekend, but that it caused some problems when she actually drove it. The 5’2” actress said she was pulled over by the cops because they had assumed the vehicle was stolen. Clarke jokingly said they probably thought the gigantic SUV was being driven by an invisible person due to Bilson’s small stature.  

New fame = new cars

Later on in the podcast episode, Clarke once again mentioned cars and brought up the vehicles that the cast bought after their newfound fame. Ben McKenzie had purchased “a sports car” per Clarke, which turned out to be an Infiniti G35 and not a Nissan, as she had originally thought. (So close!) Adam Brody had gotten a Mercedes-Benz sedan — likely an E-Class. Bilson went on to gush about her three-row Volvo SUV (probably an XC90), which made it the perfect vehicle for hauling her friends to Halloween Horror Nights at Knott’s Berry Farm. Hopefully, it went better than the core four’s trip to Tijuana in episode seven of the show.

Clarke revealed that Peter Gallagher, everyone’s favorite TV dad, was an early Prius adopter. She mentioned that she ended up also switching to a Prius after having a Mercedes-Benz CLK for a few months, and Bilson chimed in saying that pretty much everyone ended up getting a Prius eventually.

For me, it’s always interesting to learn about celebrities, the cars they have, and what drove them (heh) to choose those vehicles. The O.C. featured many memorable car moments throughout the series, both good and bad, so I’m hoping Bilson and Clarke continue to discuss them in their podcast, which airs new episodes every Tuesday morning.