Apple revealed its all-new MacBook Pros earlier this week. Running fresh Apple silicon and adding back the significantly missed physical ports is a no-brainer pickup for some techies, but it comes at a price. A really expensive price. In fact, the new MacBook Pros range from $1,999 all the way up to $6,099 for a fully popped 16-inch model.
That’s straight-up used car territory, and I’ll prove it to you. I’ve configured three versions of the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro across the price range, and it’s time to visit Facebook Marketplace to find 10 cars that you can buy instead of that shiny new laptop—something practical, a project to wrench on, and something less-than-sensible that somehow fits into the mix.
The 14-inch model is the most affordable computer emerging from Cupertino’s new lineup. Apple’s 8-core M1 processor with 14 cores dedicated to graphics processing, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of flash storage starts at $1,999. The 16-inch model gets similar specs, albeit a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU processor, plus a 1TB solid-state drive for $2,699. That’s pretty expensive for a computer, but not much money for a car, especially in today’s market. Still, I think we can make some good choices here.
The practical pick is a 2002 Toyota Corolla LE. This $2,000 daily driver has 119,000 miles and is pragmatically painted brown-on-brown, meaning it’s here to take care of business, so as long as that business is getting you from point A to point B.
As for a project, how about this 1994 Miata drift missile? It may not run, have a title, and be a bit rough around the edges, but it is caged (whether or not it will pass safety check is another question). For $1,500, someone can have a pretty fun track project.
Lastly, the hooptie of the bunch. The Miata almost won this category, but I instead gave it to a $500 Nissan Altima that has seen better days.
The mid-range MacBook Pro gives a bit more room to play with. For $3,299, buyers can have a 14-inch with Apple’s M1-powered laptop with 16 cores of GPU processing power, 32GB of memory, and a 2TB SSD. The 16-inch model gets a 24-core GPU processor, 32GB of memory, and quadruples its storage for $4,299—aka, a lot more car.
Instead of a new laptop, maybe consider this 2007 Toyota Prius. For $3,500, it’s priced slightly higher than the mid-range 14-inch model, but it does get better gas mileage. If you’re looking for a new project, maybe go in the opposite direction of a new computer with an older, more analog car. This 1925 Ford T-Bucket project needs quite a bit of TLC, but that’s the purpose of a project, right? Also, it’s priced identically to the Prius at $3,500.
It’s surprisingly hard to find unironically dilapidated rides up for sale in this price bracket. But fortunately, there’s always the sacrificial Chrysler PT Cruiser. This $4,000 example happens to be the GT-trim, which is a turbocharged 2.4-liter making north of 200 horsepower. So yeah, this is a prime example of a less desirable ride that you actually might want to buy, so as long as you can admit to your friends that you own one.
If you’re willing to spend enough money, you can score a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro. A completely maxed-out model with a 32-core GPU, 64GB of memory, and an 8TB SSD will run $5,899 as a 14-inch model, or $6,099 as a 16-inch.
At $6,200, this one is just a tad over budget (unless you factor in the cost of AppleCare+) but it’s worth it: a 2005 Honda Element with a manual transmission. Power everything and tons of cargo space make it a great practical pick, and 160,000 miles on the clock means that it has plenty of life left. And did I mention that it was a Honda Element?
The price of a high-end MacBook Pro also seems to be the sweet spot for a ton of interesting projects. From classic American muscle to Japanese tuner cars, there’s something for just about everyone. But one project that stood above the rest is this 1974 Volkswagen Beetle with a turbocharged EJ205 plucked from a Subaru WRX. The owner says it’s “80 percent” complete, so it definitely fits the definition of a project—and at just $5,500, there are some dollars left over to help finish it.
Here’s the expensive clunker you’ve been waiting for. A $5,500 check can buy you a 1978 Datsun 620 King Cab with “questionable” mileage. Its paint is more than faded, body rusting, and interior which descriptors are better left to the photos. That being said, the Datsun 620 is a truck I’ve always lusted after, but for the price, this example feels a jalopy when compared to several examples that sold on Bring a Trailer for similar amounts over the past few years.
And finally—since I promised you 10 cars—I saved my favorite for last: a 2001 Isuzu VehiCross. The trade-off for this lost ’90s off-roading icon is the high-end MacBook Pro, provided the truck’s $5,500 price tag, but I’d say this one is a given. I mean, it’s a VehiCross.
Deciding whether to pick up that fancy new Apple silicon or a freakin’ VehiCross can be a mind-boggler, I know. But at the end of the day, the choice is yours.
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