Barn Find Hunter Explores the AC Cobra Herbie Hancock Has Owned Since New

by Brandan Gillogly
7 June 2024 2 min read
<em>Barn Find Hunter</em> Explores the AC Cobra Herbie Hancock Has Owned Since New

Hagerty’s Tom Cotter made a stop by an old friend’s garage in Los Angeles for the latest installment of Barn Find Hunter. Cotter introduces us to Steve Beck, who owns some very cool cars of his own, but is also the caretaker for one of the earliest AC Cobras, which jazz legend Herbie Hancock purchased new and still owns.

Cotter, who has had the opportunity to meet Hancock and talk about their shared love of the powerful roadsters, tells the story of how the car was originally sold to Hancock when he was a young musician in New York City. Just the sixth Cobra ever built, its single-owner status means that Hancock has owned a Cobra longer than anyone else. Besides its famous owner and all of the great stories involving Hancock and other jazz legends, its early production status makes for a Cobra that is interesting on its own. 

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“This car is so early in production that it’s still very British,” says Beck. It was so early that it was built with a 260-cubic-inch Ford V8, rather than a 289 as you might expect. The early Windsor engine, equipped with a solid-lifter cam, could be a leftover from the Mercury Comet’s overseas exploits in the 1964 East African Safari. The roadster’s amalgamation of American V8 and British chassis is apparent when Beck pops the hood. The car’s brake and clutch master cylinder aren’t what you’d expect, and neither is the generator. Like its AC counterparts, this Cobra is positive ground and uses a Lucas generator.

Cotter and Beck look over some of the car’s early-production oddities and some of the accessories that have miraculously survived its long ownership. One of our favourite aspects of the car is its odometer, showing just over 30,000 miles. Rest assured, though, that this car served as Hancock’s daily driver for years, and that odometer has rolled over once. Hancock plans on that number to go up, as the car is destined to go to his grandson, keeping this Cobra and its interesting history in the family for years to come.

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