Penske Automotive Group has purchased Crevier BMW/Mini, one of Southern California’s premier car dealerships and a regular on the annual Ward’s Dealer 500 list of top car stores.

“These franchises represent an outstanding opportunity to grow our footprint in Orange County, CA,” George W. Brochick, a Penske vice president, says in a statement.

The Crevier store is in the Santa Ana auto mall, which also includes the company’s Audi and Volkswagen brands. The Crevier franchises cover 12 acres (4.8 ha), with nearly 100,000 sq. ft. (9,290 sq.-m) of facilities, 62 service bays and a 5-story parking structure.

Crevier BMW/Mini is No.7 on this year’s Ward’s Dealer 500, with vehicle sales of 5,236 and total revenues of $257 million.

“Crevier is one of the premier dealerships in the country,” says Shane Dever, managing director at Presidio, a firm that helped facilitate the sale.

Headed by Roger Penske, the Bloomfield Hills, MI-based Penske Automotive is No.2 on this year’s Ward’s Megadealer 100, a listing of the top dealership group in the nation. The firm’s 145 dealerships sold 337,670 vehicles and rang up revenues of $10.6 billion in 2010.

“For approximately 40 years, the Crevier family has grown this business by focusing on customer commitment, service, loyalty and dedication to the community,” Brochick says.

“We look forward to continuing these traditions while enhancing the customer experience and increasing the presence of the BMW and Mini brands in the Santa Ana location.”

Donnie Crevier, president of Crevier BMW/Mini, cites the importance of carrying on “the culture and legacy of the Crevier name.”

His father, Bob Crevier, founded the dealership back before BMW became such a powerhouse brand in general and in Southern California in particular.

The son of a South Dakota farmer, Bob Crevier took a bus to California in 1936, where he got a job at a donut shop. He started working at a dealership as a salesman in 1949. He was good at it. But a drinking problem got in the way.

He lost a job at a VW store and at age 50 moved in with son Don and his young family. At rock bottom, the elder Crevier joined Alcoholics Anonymous. It changed his life.

The VW store rehired him. Soon Bob Crevier was the general manager. He wanted to fulfill a dream of owning his own VW dealership. But he couldn’t afford it, as VW was the nation’s No.1 import brand at the time.

More within financial reach was a relatively low-cost franchise from another German auto maker, which, back then, was a mere niche player with modest sales but an avid customer base.

He opened Crevier BMW in 1971. Bob Crevier died at age 86 in 2004. Almost to the end, he “suited up” and went to work, his family and employees recall.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com