I don't think one can say anything certain about HDD reliability unless they have tested large samples of the same model with known data of its power-on hours, which is the unit used by manufacturers to specify the HDD life expectancy.
In particular, for old drives that do not support SMART there is no way of knowing about the past usage of an HDD, so when you get a pre-owned drive it may be on its last legs due to running 24/7 for several years, or some drive from a grandma's house that only saw a few hours of use in its lifetime. And usually there's no way to know about that.
This is one of the reasons old SCSI drives seem to fail more often than IDE drives, but it's not surprising considering most SCSI drives have probably been running non-stop for several years on harsh server/workstation environments.
So, I don't think the drive brand/model is going to tell you much about how reliable they are (unless we're talking about known problematic models, such as the early 00's Deskstars). In my experience with old HDD pulls, I have only had one WD drive fail (2.1GB) while several Seagate and Maxtor drives from the same era were dead or near dead with faulty sectors. But again, I don't think that means anything really because I don't know the past history of these drives.