Mike Stenhouse skipped church service one Sunday to attend an auto fair.
"When I saw him afterward, he said, 'You're not going to believe what I just did,'" his wife, Pat, 62, said.
For a 55th birthday gift to himself, he bought a rare authorized reproduction of a 427 S/C Cobra that today is worth about $65,000.
"But that's OK," replied Mike, 67, a former rocket scientist for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. "Because she bought this house without asking me."
His car will be on display - along with dozens of other sports cars, muscle cars, vintage cars and hot rods - at the third annual Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Car Show benefit from 2-6 p.m. April 18 in the Habitat ReStore parking lot, 20414 N. Main St., Cornelius.
Only 3,000 were made at a factory in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where current Shelby Cobras are produced. He bought car No. 218 in 1997 from Bob Olthoff, the Cobra road race driver with the most wins in the world.
The exterior is visually accurate but underneath it has a modern chassis and drive train. Smaller and lighter than a Mazda Miata, Mike said it was designed to be quicker than original competition Cobras, but docile enough to be driven on the street. Under the hood is a 427-cubic-inch, 550-horsepower all aluminum Ford Racing engine built by Raceparts Distribution Inc. in Cornelius.
Proceeds from the car show will benefit Our Towns' Youth United, a group that has funded and built four area homes in the last eight years. The group's fourth home is scheduled to be completed in May. The group includes kids as young as 5, students from four area high schools, as well as college students and others up to age 25.
Our Towns Habitat, which serves Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mooresville, celebrated it 20th anniversary two years ago.
The Davidson couple has been a part of the nonprofit for the last six years. Mike, a volunteer, has worked as a crew leader for the Youth United group, supervising the volunteers and the construction process of each of its four homes.
"I've been enormously impressed by their hard work and their commitment and their willingness to make a contribution to their community," he said. "They're a great group of kids and they give me a great deal of hope for the future of our community and our country."
His wife, Pat, was Habitat's Youth United group advisor and volunteer coordinator, a paid staff position she retired from in Dec., 2009.
"Habitat is life-changing," Pat said. "You take families out of houses that are terrible, put them into a new home and all of a sudden, their kids are graduating and going into college. It's just amazing how it changes the family dynamics."
Kate Jetton, 23, is an AmeriCorps volunteer from Raleigh. She has been the assistant volunteer coordinator and Youth United coordinator for Our Towns Habitat since September.
Throughout the year, the groups connected to Youth United host about 10 fundraisers a year and the car show is one of the biggest.
"We're expecting to raise about $2,000," she said. "That's what we've done in the past, but hopefully we'll raise more."
Jetton has been equally impressed by Youth United's effort over the years.
"I think it's really inspiring what these youths are doing," Jetton said. "These fundraisers are organized by them, they're run by them and these homes are fully sponsored by them. They make a huge difference in our community."