Mercedes-Benz SLS (© Mercedes-Benz USA)

Mercedes-Benz SLS

You've probably heard that the value of a new car depreciates 50 percent as soon as it's driven off the dealer's lot. That's not entirely true. If it were, it wouldn't make any financial sense to buy a new car. However, the value of a new car does, in fact, depreciate the moment you leave the dealership. But by how much? That varies by automobile, but the average is about 9 percent, and after a year, a new car's value will decrease by about 20 percent.

What if you could buy a car that wouldn't lose its value, or might even appreciate over time?

Bing: New Collectible Cars

We're at a unique point in automotive history, one that might create more demand and value for collector cars in the future. The horsepower race has escalated to where V6 pony cars and family sedans develop 300 horsepower, tuned sport sedans top 500 and some sports cars exceed 600.

But a couple of new wrinkles could quickly scuttle that progress. Government regulations call for the average fuel efficiency of automakers' fleets to reach 34.1 mpg by 2016 and an amazing 54.5 mpg by 2025. That could spell the end for many of today's powerful but thirsty beasts, meaning we've reached the zenith of the pursuit of horsepower. If that's the case, many of today's powerful and attractive cars could become highly sought-after collectibles in 10, 15 or 20 years.

Here we speculate on 10 current cars that could become tomorrow's classics. The list was chosen on four basic criteria: power, performance, looks and rarity. There's no guarantee that any one of these cars will appreciate, but if you buy one you're sure to have a fun time finding out if it does.

Looking for a new or used car? Try MSN Autos' powerful new Decision Guide.

2011 BMW 1-Series M

Click to enlarge pictureBMW 1-Series M Coupe (© BMW Group)

BMW 1-Series M Coupe

Start with an excellent chassis and suspension, add a powerful twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine and a host of menacing if excessive aerodynamic add-ons, and you have one hot little performance machine. That engine is a 335-horsepower version of BMW's N54 3.0-liter inline-six. Due to emissions considerations, the N54 is not scheduled to return next year, making the 1-Series M a one-hit wonder. That will limit sales to only 800 to 1,000 cars, which is the perfect formula for a true collectible.

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2008-2012 BMW M3

Click to enlarge picture2011 BMW M3 Coupe (© BMW North America)

2011 BMW M3 Coupe

BMW has announced that the next generation of the M3 will feature turbocharged 6-cylinder power. That means the high-tech, high-revving 414-horsepower 4.0-liter V8 engine in the current M3 will be history, making the V8 M3s almost certain collectibles. The M3 is offered as a coupe, sedan and convertible with prices that start at $55,900, but the most collectible body style should be the sleek coupe. Of that group, the $79,650 Frozen Black coupe, with its menacing flat-black paint, will be the rarest, as it is limited to a run of just 20 cars.

Compare: BMW M3 vs. Audi S5 vs. Lexus IS F

2010-2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Click to enlarge pictureCadillac CTS-V Coupe (© General Motors)

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Ten years ago, nobody thought Cadillac could build a car to compete with BMW. Not only is Cadillac now doing just that, it's trumping the legendary M3 by 142 horsepower with the CTS-V, which is offered in sedan, wagon and coupe form. The most appealing of the group is the sleek and sexy coupe, which starts at $62,215. Performance is phenomenal: zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 12.6 seconds and a top speed of 191 mph. But the CTS-V wraps those iron-fist numbers in the silk glove of Cadillac refinement and luxury. This vehicle has the perfect mix of power, performance and good looks.

Watch Video:  2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

2010-2012 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

Click to enlarge pictureChevrolet Corvette ZR-1 (© Chevrolet)

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

The history of the Corvette is peppered with legendary high-performance models: The Z06, L88 and the original ZR1 of 1990 to 1995 come to mind. But the king of them all is the 2010 to 2012 ZR1. A supercharged 6.2-liter push-rod V8 engine puts out an earth-shaking 638 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph whizzes by in 3.3 seconds, the quarter-mile takes just 11.2 seconds and top speed is 200 mph. The ZR1 is a supercar with the everyday reliability of a Chevrolet. The price may be steep at $110,300, but it should hold up over time, because it costs less than half that of a comparable Ferrari or Lamborghini.

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