Re: Thinking about a Mini Cooper
For fun/cool factor, I think that the earlier supercharged cars trump the later turbocharged cars. If you want more power, an under-driven crank pulley for the supercharger ups the boost.
Avoid the 1st gen non-supercharged cars. (Cooper as opposed to Cooper S.) They had what is known as the Midland gearbox (5 speed), which seems to be made of cheese.
On the supercharged cars, the coolant reservoir is prone to leaks, the dipstick gives up and the harmonic balancer (crankshaft pulley) quits. The power steering cooling fan quits and, if not detected, takes the power steering pump with it.
With the direct injection turbocharged cars, watch out for carbon build up on the engine valves.
Parts are only expensive if you buy them from the stealership.