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The owner of this Shelby Cobra used it to practice driving a manual transmission



The key to learning how to drive a manual transmission is to start on something cheap and low-powered, allowing you to get used to how a manual gearbox operates without feeling overwhelmed. However, jazz legend Herbie Hancock took a different approach when he decided to learn stick in one of the most powerful cars of the 1960s, a Shelby Cobra. Despite suggestions to buy a station wagon for touring, Hancock used his first big paycheck to purchase an original Cobra in New York City. He spent time practicing with the car, gradually getting comfortable with the clutch and mastering driving it. Hancock drove the Cobra daily for years, using it for both local gigs in New York and longer trips to cities like Chicago and Boston.

Even today, in his mid-80s, Herbie Hancock still owns the same Cobra he initially learned to drive in. This particular Cobra, chassis CSX2006, is the sixth one ever built and has the distinction of being the longest-owned original Shelby Cobra in the world. Unlike many early Cobras, this one retains its original 260 cubic-inch V-8 engine, believed to be a leftover from Ford’s Falcon Safari campaign. It also features unique components like a custom radiator and dual-barrel carburetor, giving it a special place in the history of the model. The car remains unrestored, with only minor parts like wiring replaced, and has accumulated about 130,000 miles over the years – a true testament to the joy Hancock has derived from driving it.

Learning to drive a manual transmission can be a rewarding experience, providing a greater connection to the car and enhancing the driving experience overall. Herbie Hancock’s decision to learn stick on a Shelby Cobra showcases the power of perseverance and dedication in mastering a new skill. The story of his early days with the Cobra, practicing late into the night in New York City and engaging in impromptu drag races with fellow jazz musician Miles Davis, highlights the passion and thrill of driving a manual sports car. Hancock’s decision to keep and maintain the same car over the decades speaks to the enduring bond he has formed with the Cobra, making it a unique and cherished piece of automotive history.

The Shelby Cobra driven by Herbie Hancock holds a special place in the world of classic cars, not only for its iconic status as one of the earliest models produced but also for its originality and well-preserved condition. With a unique history that includes being built by Carroll Shelby’s friend Ed Hughes and featuring custom components that set it apart from other early Cobras, this particular car is a rare gem in the automotive world. Its high mileage and long ownership by Hancock add to its allure, showcasing the love and dedication he has poured into the vehicle over the years. As a testament to the enduring appeal of classic cars and the thrill of driving a manual sports car, the Shelby Cobra driven by Herbie Hancock stands as a symbol of passion and perseverance in the automotive world.

In conclusion, the story of Herbie Hancock learning to drive a manual transmission on a Shelby Cobra is a testament to the joys and challenges of mastering a new skill. His decision to practice on one of the most powerful cars of its time, rather than starting with something simpler, showcases his determination and passion for driving. Hancock’s continued ownership of the same Cobra he learned to drive in demonstrates the lasting bond he has formed with the vehicle, making it a cherished piece of automotive history. The unique features and history of this particular Cobra make it a standout in the world of classic cars, highlighting the enduring appeal of vintage sports cars and the thrill of driving a manual transmission.

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