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PH 2019 | Brave Pill of the year

All our Pills are brave, but some are more courageous than others, here's 2019's top ten

By Mike Duff / Saturday, December 28, 2019

Eeh, 2019 - remember that? Barack Obama being sworn in, Farmville taking over Facebook and Avatar breaking box office records. No, wait, that was 2009. 2019 will be best recalled in years to come for the launch of Brave Pill, PH's weekly celebration of the most compelling automotive risks the classifieds can produce. Without further delay here are the 10 most popular of the year in terms of views, if not necessarily forum love.

V10 engines have featured disproportionately throughout Pill's short history, with two making our top ten. The BMW M6 is about as compelling a case in risk-versus-reward as you'll find, given the well-documented tendency of the mighty 5.0-litre S85 to ingest its rod bearings and the SMG transmission's ability to drop whale-choking bills. Our Pill was a good-looking and well maintained example, although many of you feared serious expense was lurking below the surface.

Our second top ten V10 was an even more courageous proposition, the 'C6' Audi RS6's twin-turbo 5.0-litre engine having been tuned from a standard 571hp to produce an entirely unnecessary - but also glorious - 735hp. Given Resale Silver paint and a bodykit that most would struggle to distinguish from the one fitted to a 2.0 TDI S-Line it was almost certainly the Q-est Q-Car of the year as well.

The existential debate as to whether any Nissan could ever be regarded as truly brave didn't distract too much from a celebration of just how cheap early versions of the R35 have become. Our largely standard Pill had been maintained fastidiously by an owner who even listed the exact grade for each type of lubricant in the advert, yet was still being offered for just over thirty grand. A bang per buck champion.

And now for something completely different. The oddball V12 TDI Q7 was an acquired taste when it was new - just 50 were sold in the UK over the four years it was offered - making it rarer than a well-driven Zafira. There doesn't seem to be a huge amount more love for it today to judge from the overwhelmingly negative comments it attracted. On the plus side, the fact I once saw Alexander Armstrong in one gave the chance to make some Pointless gags.

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. With the Sapphire RS bringing out a solid crop of Cosworth anecdotes - most of which involved the car's catnip attraction to thieves and TWOCers - the Saph scored the highest number of comments of any Brave Pill. The spectacular rise in values for both the two-door Sierra RS and the wing-tastic Escort has left the Sapphire as the only semi-affordable version, with many reckoning this non-immaculate £14K example actually represented decent value

While Pill's mission is normally to celebrate excess and entirely ridiculous numbers of cylinders - see below - it's (mildly) interesting to note that the only front-driven car we've featured this year makes the list of traffic-driven highlights. Our GTA was wearing 150,000 miles and had a colourful MOT history, mostly cautionary red, but it was also being offered for less than half the price of a low-mileage minter. For £6,495 it was also one of the year's cheapest Pills, and the only one under ten grand to make the top 10.

Pill has always acknowledged that there are different levels of bravery - from the ability to reach the end of The Green Mile without blubbing to the courage in combat that wins the kind of medals only senior members of the royal family are allowed to pin on. In car terms the Maybach 62 is about as far to the right of that scale as it possible to be, given the combination of expense and hard to find parts. Working out that our Pill had lost £8 a mile in depreciation gave an excuse for (nervous) laughter.

Only one Aston has made it into BP so far - something that will doubtless be remedied next year. This attractive looking early V8 Vantage manual wore a bargain price tag on the basis of having covered 117,000 miles; which earned it the sort of suspicion that the lower reaches of the market would usually reserve for a 350,000 miler wearing minicab company stickers. Fortunately PHers are more sensible than that, with much love for this well-used example of what remains one of the best-looking Astons of all time.

Here's one that surprised us. The MG SV was never a hit when it was new, especially not with sportscar buyers who were being asked to find Porsche 911 money for something with an interior that felt like it had been knocked up by a prison workshop class. Our Pill also had the extremely rare option of an automatic gearbox, something that nobody reckoned would add anything to the driving experience. Yet controversy obviously works, with Longbridge's lumpen coupe scoring the second highest number of views of the year...

Few would deny that the Rolls-Royce Phantom is a worthy winner of our Pill Popularity contest, scoring close to maximum under both risk and irrational "I want that now" appeal. While 150,000 miles is a sizeable odometer score, the Phantom seemed to have been well looked after and looked spectacular in a shade of purple deep enough to have recorded Smoke on the Water. We'll be doing well if there is anything as compelling at the top of next year's highlights reel. Oh, and this one is still for sale if you are looking for that perfect impulse Christmas buy...

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