The mini is a classic vehicle and has to be respected in this vein.
You cannot comparea mini with todays modern hi-tech products that are made to do relatively high mileage before they are designed to be recycled.
The modern three generations ahead vehicle has fuel Injection, computer systems, 5 and 6 speed gearboxes, 4 and 5 speed autos, etc and most minis have none of these features that do increase driveability and reliability.
In our opinion the mini has two areas of weakness that are inherent in design, and do
affect long term running costs and reliability.
1. The fact that the engine and gearbox share the same oil supply. This creates hotter and
dirtier oil and if you do not change oil regularly then the whole process is
"A recycling garbage system". So regular oil changes are a bonus in the history
of the vehicle you are potentially buying.. low or dirty oil on the dipstick is not a good look.
This area is basically impossible to change
2. Mini that have drum brakes if driven hard or have 1275 engines fitted are generally
expensive to maintain as brake cylinders leak, brakes pull, need regular adjusting, and replacement\
of cylinders and linings. The disc brake system is brilliant, but is usually expensive to buy
but has the bonus of working and not requiring much maintenance.
You can buy new Cooper S disc brakes from minisplus in kit form for around $1500 (these take 10" dia wheels or larger) or
buy used or recondioned 8.4" discs from Rover minis or UK imports for less money. (these take 12" wheels or larger)
Most other areas can be fixed relatively inexpensively, although a mini is a labour intensive vehicle.
A Classic vehicle is often plagued by rust, and a mini is no exception. "RUST FREE" is a real bonus, but those terms are over used. The first signs of rust in a mini is battery box, boot floor, front floors, below lower door hinge on front panel. More than this and the car has to be carefully considered .
Engine and gearbox is a combination, and if either area has failed, then the other half has to be suspect. A professional recondition of an engine and gearbox and diff and clutch and cooling system will generally empty your pocket of $5000 - $9000.00. and this is good value if you consider the parts, labour and machining involved to get it right. Correctly reconditioned engines are often better than when they left the factory with modern clearances and updates to take full advantage of the fuels and oils available today. Used engines in good condition are few and far between these days.
Oil leaks... minis leak oil and are hard to stop permanently. Registration authorites do not like oil leaks, so this can cost a fair amount if you have to meet RWC tests.