Tom Cotter with his bear-bashed 1965 Shelby Cobra. Picture: Rachel D'Oro / AP

Anchorage, Alaska - A North Carolina man plans to leave the dents in his rare vintage car for a while to relish the Alaska vacation story behind it. It's not every day that a pricey collector's treasure is damaged by a bear breaking into it to steal cookies.

"It's bar room talk," Tom Cotter of Davidson, North Carolina, said on Monday shortly before he was scheduled to fly home from Anchorage after he toured the state for two weeks in his red 1965 289 Shelby Cobra with several other car collectors.

Cotter's car sustained major rips to the vinyl roof and dents on the body when the bear broke into it last week at Alyeska Ski Resort, 61km south of Anchorage. He learned about the break-in when one of his friends texted him a photo of the damaged car the morning it was discovered.

"This car will forever be known as the bear Cobra," said Cotter, 64, an author who writes about finding rare vintage cars. He also has a YouTube channel called The Barn Find Hunter.

Fig Newtons

Fellow traveler, Woody Woodruff of Charlotte, North Carolina, had left a package of Fig Newtons behind the driver's seat, and the cookies were missing after the break-in.

"I felt kind of bad, but Tom's taking it well," Woodruff said.

Cotter has aspired to own a Shelby Cobra since he was 10 years old, and has owned this car for nearly two decades. But he shrugs off the damages, even though the classic convertible is valued between $900 000 and $1 million (R12-R13 million).

'Everything can be fixed'

He expects the damages to be paid for by his insurance company, which covers everything that could happen to collectors' cars. Even bear attacks?

"Well, we'll see," he said.

The bruin burglary did not sour him on his Alaska experience, he said. He had the car shipped to Alaska, where he put in nearly 1,900 miles exploring the state, before having it shipped back home.

"Best vacation of my life," he said. "I only wish my wife had come."

AP