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Some of today's cars will be winners in decades to come.

Think ahead: how would you like to own a classic car in 30 or 40 years? The best way to do it would be to buy the vehicle right now brand-new, then keep it in fantastic order for future enjoyment. How cool would it be to say you've owned your classic from new?

However, exactly which 2012-model cars are destined to achieve classic status is anybody's guess. Right now, they're my guess, because I've picked five models that I reckon will be worth keeping.

My thinking - and it is my thinking, so write the cheques at your own risk - is that cars we'll be talking about in decades to come are those that represent watershed moments for their makers. Perhaps the start of something big, or the end of a line. Surprise successes, terrible mistakes. Special cars.


Obvious this one, and yet impossible to ignore. The $56,990 Spirit R special edition marks the end of the RX-8 after nine years. It's a bolt-on package to be sure: Recaro seats, special wheels, Bilstein suspension. But it revives the Spirit R badge of the last-ever RX-7 a decade ago and it might also mark the end of Mazda's rotary-powered models as we've known them.

True, Mazda is pretty attached to the whole rotary concept.

It's rumoured to be working on a SkyActiv version of the technology that will address its considerable thirst and high emissions.

The light, compact nature of the rotary also gives it potential as a generator for extended-range electric vehicles.

Either of the above might be used in a new-generation RX-7 or RX-8.

But I think the wild, thirsty days of the rotary as we have known and loved it will end with the Spirit R. Although I might have said that back in 2002 as well.

There's an all-new, extremely fuel-efficient and very sensible Impreza in town. But there's no high-performance version as yet, which is why the previous-shape WRX continues alongside the latest model.

In fact, the current Impreza WRX is the last of its kind. It's been a legend since 1992 and has symbolised the brand through everything from World Rally success to the image woes of boy-racerhood.

Subaru is putting all of that behind it now. The next-generation WRX, due in late-2013, will not wear an Impreza badge and will not look anything like its sedan and hatchback siblings. Subaru is keen to establish "WRX" as a brand in its own right, which means the end of a hot-hatch/super-sedan icon. And the signal to grab one now.

The all-Australian Falcon's death warrant has already been signed. The next Falcon, due in 2016, will be based on a global platform. So the just-launched 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost model is not just a bold new initiative, it might also be remembered as a desperate measure by Ford Australia to make the old girl competitive with more modern machinery.

Falcon EcoBoost is a significant vehicle for so many reasons. It's a four-cylinder Falcon for a start, which is history-making in itself. EcoBoost is a global Ford engine, expected to power 90 per cent of the brand's nameplates by 2013. Falcon is the first rear-drive application of the technology. More history-making.

Whatever the relative success or failure of the Falcon EcoBoost in the years to come, by all accounts it's also a great car to drive. So not only is it significant on paper, it'll also be remembered fondly. Future-classic stuff.

BMW's M-cars are legendary for their no-compromise performance and virtuoso driving dynamics. I think the X6 M will be remembered as the moment where it so nearly all went wrong. The engineering is typically thorough, but a heavy, high-riding crossover is a wildly inappropriate base for a properly credentialled M-car.

BMW has tacitly admitted the error of its ways with its new M Performance brand in Europe, which offers significantly enhanced versions of the X6/5 without having to give them full M-status. Which might just leave the current X6 M as a future-classic orphan.

But here's something they'll never take away: the X6 M lays claim to many firsts for the M-brand. It's the first with a V8 engine, the first to be available exclusively with automatic transmission, the first with all-wheel drive.

Actually, I reckon the true future classics might be the cars that are most familiar to most people. They're vehicles that we all connect with every day, and they're also the ones that are least likely to survive because nobody thinks to care for them while they toil away from A-to-B.

So I give you the Corolla - the default car for Kiwi fleets and families. Think about how wonderful it would be to own a pristine 1970s or 1980s Corolla right now. Then rush out and buy a brand-new 2012 model to put in the cupboard.

Which modern car do you think is going to be a future classic? Let us know at nzherald.co.nz/driven