Bear destroys roof of Shelby-signed Cobra in search of cookies

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The original roof of Tom Cotter's 1965 289 Shelby Cobra stood no chance against a hungry grizzly. | Hagerty photo
The original roof of Tom Cotter's 1965 289 Shelby Cobra stood no chance against a hungry grizzly. | Hagerty photo

When a bear senses something to eat, there’s little that can stop it, including the original roof of a 1965 289 Shelby Cobra signed by Carroll Shelby. 

Hagerty’s Tom Cotter, who hosts the Barn Find Hunter video series, learned that the hard way during a multi-day trip across Alaska.

The insurance company said Cotter stayed overnight in Girdwood, Alaska, and accidentally left a pack of Newtons — which were called Fig Newtons prior to a name change a few years back — behind the seat.

Enter the bear — literally. Cotter received a call in the morning that he should come to the parking lot immediately. When he arrived, he found the convertible top of the Cobra opened up, some dents in the fender and a few muddy pawprints identifying the culprit.

“The car’s top had survived 53 years unscathed, but couldn’t make it 11 days in Alaska,” he told Hagerty.

Cotter typically leaves the top down on the roadster. However, workers in Whittier asked him to put it up to drive through an active railway tunnel because rocks sometimes fall from the ceiling.

“The workers halted train traffic to let us through, but when they saw we were all driving convertibles, they insisted we put up our tops,” Cotter said. “We usually just put on our tonneau covers, because no matter the weather, the tops are sort of frowned upon.”

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Cotter continued his drive across Alaska but ran into another snag: His clutch hydraulics went out. He’s working to repair them.

The thieving bear had yet to be caught. It was believed it was heading for Jellystone in the company of another, nicknamed Boo-Boo. Keep an eye on your picnic baskets.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

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