Future Classic Cars
Could these 10 performance models be tomorrow's collectibles? We think so.
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?
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.
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2011 BMW 1-Series M
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.
2008-2012 BMW M3
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.
2010-2012 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.
2010-2012 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.
2010-2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
Ford has offered SVT-bred performance pickups since the 1990s, but those vehicles performed only in a straight line. The current SVT, the Raptor, has plenty of grunt, with a 411-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine, but it also offers off-road capability along the lines of the trucks used to scout out courses before off-road races. The off-road bona fides include Fox Racing Shocks, 35-inch all-terrain tires, an electronic locking rear differential, and 11.2 inches of suspension travel up front and 13.4 inches in the rear. Buy one, don't beat it too harshly and you'll have a collectible years from now.
The Mustang is a common collectible, with 1960s performance models going for big bucks on the auction circuit. Ford has upped the ante on performance in recent years with Bullitt, Shelby GT500 and now Boss 302 models. While the Shelby models have more power, the 440-horsepower Boss 302, priced at $40,310, is the best Mustang ever, and the $6,995 Laguna Seca package makes it an even better performer. Meant for track use, the Laguna Seca features increased body stiffness, a firmer chassis setup and a race-bred aerodynamics package. Both Bosses should be collectible, but the lower production Laguna Seca will be the model that collectors will covet.
2011-2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
One of the most prized collector cars of all time is the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, known affectionately as the Gullwing for its upward-opening doors. It can command more than $1 million at auction. For the 2011 model year, Mercedes introduced a modern Gullwing, the SLS AMG. With 563 pavement-searing horses under the hood, an aluminum space frame and a superbly balanced front midengine design (with the engine placed behind the front wheels), the SLS AMG is a race car for the street, but it is also happy to toddle along in traffic, menacing the lesser cars. With a price tag of $183,000, it's no wonder only 928 have been sold since its release last year. That just makes this ultracool 2-seater even rarer.
2009-2012 Nissan GT-R
The insectlike GT-R, a legend in Japan but virtually unknown on these shores, immediately announced itself with authority when Nissan finally brought it to the United States for the 2009 model year. With its twin-turbocharged 450-horsepower engine, it put up performance numbers rivaling a supercar. Horsepower has since been boosted to 530 and the initial price of $76,840 has risen to $89,950, but it's still a performance bargain. Try these figures on for size: zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, an 11.1-second quarter-mile and a top speed of 197 mph. Only the Corvette ZR1 delivers comparable numbers for a similar price. With only 5,136 cars sold through August 2011, it's awfully rare, too.
2010-2012 Porsche Boxster Spyder
A higher performance, lightweight version of Porsche's midengine roadster, the Boxster Spyder is incredibly rewarding to drive, but its unique drop-top limits its everyday appeal and therefore sales. The top doesn't really shut out the elements, and it takes at least a couple of minutes to put it on or take it off. However, with an extra 10 horsepower, for a total of 330, and tighter suspension settings than the standard Boxster, the Boxster Spyder is a car you'd want to own for a long time or buy when you can afford one. It is a toy, seriously. The best way to own this car is to take off the top, keep it in the garage and enjoy it on a sunny day every chance you get.
The fifth-generation of the 911, code 997, is set to be replaced next year. When historians look back at the 997, they'll view the GT3 RS 4.0 as the best of the breed. Limited to 600 examples, each for a tidy $185,000, this model gets the lightweight treatment of other GT3 RSs, plus carbon-fiber body panels, along with front air deflectors and a double rear wing to create loads of down force. Under the hood, it features the most powerful, naturally aspirated 911 engine ever, a 4.0-liter flat-six that cranks out 500 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque. Buy one now, keep the mileage low, and you'll have a retirement nest egg in 25 years.
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
The Volkswagen R32 was offered in two runs of 5,000 vehicles in 2004 and 2008, and both caught on as prized collectibles. The 2012 VW Golf R is the next in this line of hot hatches. With the next generation of the Golf due in 2012, the Golf R is likely a one-and-done proposition; production is again limited to 5,000. Expected to sell for just under $35,000, the U.S. version will be a deal compared with the European car, which sells in the mid-$50,000 range. The Golf R's combination of 260 horsepower and razor-sharp handling makes it a sure bet for a good automotive investment.
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.
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Anyone who loves classic cars will look at this list and just shake their head. Classic muscle cars are classic because of the culture associated with them. They were the cars people could afford in their early 20's, and cars people could fall in love with. All the cars on this list are cars people buy because they have a lot of money to burn one one, so why not go out and buy a limited production Mustang that probably cost DOUBLE the price of the GT. These cares aren't thoroughbread hot-rods. They're just stable ponies, coveted by people who buy cars for the status, not the passion.
I'm not saying all these cars need to be good 'ol American Muscle either. Cars like the Honda CRX and Nissan 280z (Datsun Z) are considered iconic, cutting edge, and grounbreaking for their time. In the right circle, these cars are classic. They're cars that, in retrospec, many people may have taken for granted just how great of a car it was, until the realise that the newer models are somehow lacking.
I have a 1951 Buick Roadmaster with Dynaflo transmission and a straight 8 engine. People come to me with tears in their eyes and talk about their father or grandfather having one. They look inside to see if the original radio is there with the push buttons that spell B-U-I-C-K. They remember how to tell a Roadmaster by the number of portholes. Memories are what makes a car a classic. . .