Southern Californian Dan Cowdrey purchased the 500,000th Mini made since BMW took over production in 2001. California is one of Mini's largest markets with 18% of worldwide sales, more than many European nations.

Mini production and sales are about two years sales ahead of schedule because of consumer demand. Last year, about 174,000 units were sold worldwide. More than 111,000 were sold in the first seven months of this year.

Cowdrey, a resident of Westlake Village, purchased his from Long Beach Mini. He was flown to England for a special ceremony marking the half-million milestone.

An auto enthusiast since boyhood, Cowdrey does "a ton of driving" as well as road racing. He received the royal treatment at Long Beach Mini. A red carpet and a row of red Minis greeted him as he took delivery of his car.