LIVERMORE -- A buck may not go far these days, but 10 bucks could get you a vintage car and the chance to make a difference in the world.
That's exactly what Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Livermore is offering. A $10 donation buys one entry into a drawing for a fully restored 1959 Rambler American. All the money raised -- the church is shooting for $100,000 -- will be donated to Shepherd's Gate, a group that helps battered and homeless women and children get back on their feet.
"It's pretty much a project of love and hope and help for other people," said church member Barry Becker, who helped restore the car. "That's basically what it's all about. It's just a tool to bring awareness to people about how many homeless and battered women are out there who don't have any direction."
The hot rod project came about as the church's men's ministry looked for a special way to support the Livermore-based Shepherd's Gate, which has a long-standing partnership with the church. The men hit on the idea of restoring a car. The plan languished until a church member donated a 1959 Rambler he had started to restore, but eventually abandoned.
"I was looking for a car that would be fairly easy to do and would be desirable," said Rev. Bob Ferro, the church's pastor, chuckling at the mention of the project being fairly easy. The initial plan was to take a year, two at most, to restore the Rambler. In reality, the men are finally wrapping up the restoration
"I've restored cars and been into cars for years and years," Ferro said, adding that most of the men who helped are true car buffs. "We did know what we were doing. We just didn't know how long it would take. But that's OK. It's been a labor of love."
Becker said he was eager to jump on board when he heard about the project.
"I got excited because I had an itch to build a car," he said. "What really put me on board is what it's for -- to benefit battered women and their children and get them off the street. I told myself I'd dedicate myself to this, no matter how hard it got."
The sporty two-door Rambler is better than new. It has a 5.0-liter fuel-injected Ford engine, air conditioning and power windows, none of which was standard. The exterior is a classy white-gray body accented by a dark gray top and gray interior.
"The car is totally customized," Becker said. "It's all modern. It rides really nice on the freeway. I was amazed at how well it runs. It sounds and looks kind of like a muscle car, but it's just a cruiser. I could go cross-country in it right now."
Based on the reaction the car gets when displayed to sell tickets, plenty of folks would like to take it on a cross-country cruise.
"I get pretty good reactions from everybody," Becker said. "They've never seen a car like that before. They think it's amazing."
A core group of eight church members started the work, Ferro said, but the group dwindled to a few hard-core volunteers as the years marched on.
"We were staying true to the purpose and the vision," Ferro said. "It really was a vision to help out Shepherd's Gate, and to hold on to that vision took tenacity, perseverance and dedication.
"A lot of people see these shows on television where guys can build these cars in seven days," he added. "The seven days you see on television are 30 skilled workers working eight to 10 hours a day. It's not reality. Reality is that it takes a long time to do one of these cars and do it right."
The guys have, indeed, done it right. The sporty and compact Rambler has been appraised at an impressive $28,000.
While the men provided the bulk of the elbow grease, they relied on the generosity of 18 local car-related businesses to donate parts and services.
The $10 raffle tickets -- 11 for $100 -- can be bought online. The drawing for the car will be held July 14 at the church's annual Rimz & Ribz car show and outdoor barbecue. There's no fee to attend the show or enter a car, but barbecue meals and T-shirts are $10 each. Last year's show featured 250 vehicles, everything from tractors to Rolls Royces.
It's fitting that Cornerstone took a beat-up, rusty Rambler and turned it into a gem to benefit Shepherd's Gate, said Jen Harp, the shelter's marketing director.
"Shepherd's Gate deals with women and kids who come to us when they're broken, so it really has quite a nice parallel for us," she said. "We were overwhelmed to know how much work went into this. To have it go to our organization is a blessing."
The nonprofit Shepherd's Gate ministry relies on the goodness of community support and volunteer efforts to stay in business, Harp noted.
"All of it is important because we are a community-funded and -supported organization, whether it's two hours of volunteering or the hundreds of hours that have gone into this car," Harp said. "We are very, very grateful for Cornerstone and for every single man who's put time or money into that car."
What: Rimz & Ribz car show, BBQ and 1959 Rambler raffle
When: 10 a.m.
to 2 p.m. July 14
Fellowship Church, 348 N. Canyons Parkway, Livermore
Cost: Free car show
admission, $10 raffle
tickets, $10 barbecue
Details: Read all about
the Rambler's restoration and buy tickets at