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A rude car salesman did me a huge favor, says jazz icon Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock is one of the world's greatest musicians, and he happens to own one of the world's greatest — and most valuable — cars.

He bought the 1963 AC Shelby Cobra more than 40 years ago for $6,000. Today, he estimates it's worth about $2 million.

But he never would have bought it if a snooty salesman hadn't made him angry.

The musician says he should thank the dealer with a nasty attitude. The dealer pissed off Hancock so much that the musician decided to buy a car he didn't really know anything about.

Herbie Hancock tells Jay Leno that he bought his 1963 AC Shelby Cobra for $6,000 in 1963. It’s now worth an estimated $2,000,000.
Source: CNBC
Herbie Hancock tells Jay Leno that he bought his 1963 AC Shelby Cobra for $6,000 in 1963. It’s now worth an estimated $2,000,000.

On the latest episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," the jazz legend recalls the "Pretty Woman"-esque shopping experience.

In 1963, Hancock's roommate Donald Byrd told him there was an American car that was beating the Ferraris.

"I said, 'OK, I'll go down and look at it,'" Hancock remembers. "I just wanted to see what it looked like."

Herbie Hancock was 22 years old when he purchased this 1963 AC Shelby Cobra for $6,000.
Source: CNBC
Herbie Hancock was 22 years old when he purchased this 1963 AC Shelby Cobra for $6,000.

Dressed in jeans, Hancock walked into the Manhattan dealership and met an unwelcoming salesman. "I was 23. The salesman is there, with his white shirt on and a tie. He doesn't even look up at me."

"I'm getting a little hot under the collar," he says. "And I said, 'I'd like to buy the Cobra.' He finally looks up. He says, 'Do you know how much that car costs?'"

Hancock did, and the next day he returned to purchase it. This turned out to be a smart decision.

Fewer than 1,000 Shelby Cobras, designed by racer Carroll Shelby, were made between 1962 and 1965.
Source: CNBC
Fewer than 1,000 Shelby Cobras, designed by racer Carroll Shelby, were made between 1962 and 1965.

The 1963 AC Shelby Cobra is considered one of a kind. Under the hood, Hancock's Cobra has a 260 cubic-inch engine with a two-barrel carburetor. Only 75 Cobras with the 260 cubic-inch engine were made. And a 2007 Road & Track interview notes that Hancock's is "the only known Cobra ever equipped" with a two-barrel carburetor.

Hancock says he drove it as his daily car for years, before discovering how much it could be worth as a classic car. Looking back on his exchange with the salesman, he says: "He did me a great favor. He has no idea what a favor he did."

CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT.