Back to Alaska: My 3600-mile DeLorean Road-Trip
Robert Prince, VIN #10381
My 3600-mile DeLorean road trip to Alaska is proof of how badly I wanted a DeLorean. I’d dreamed of owning the car for 17 years before I finally picked up VIN 10381 from DMC Midwest in July 2016. After spending a year in Michigan while on an academic sabbatical from my teaching job in Fairbanks, I started the eight-day drive back to Alaska with my friend Chris Carew driving the follow car and helping to film the trip for my “Back to Alaska: The DeLorean Road-Trip Movie” documentary
It’s impossible to capture the enormity of the experience in so few words, but suffice it to say it was like traveling with a beloved celebrity. I knew people would be excited to see the car, but I had no idea fans would flock to it at every gas station, restaurant, and parking lot.
We left Michigan on June 15 and by day three we crossed the Canadian border. I tried to declare my flux capacitor to a confused border agent who apparently hadn’t seen the movie. We were able to connect with another DeLorean owner in Fort St. John, B.C. Then we headed to Dawson Creek, BC and the official beginning of the famous Alaska Highway, or the “ALCAN” as it’s known. Built by the US Army during World War II to aid in the defense of Alaska, the ALCAN is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is remote, making it both a wonderful and unsettling place to drive a rare classic car. We actually hit a rare summer blizzard as we were passing through the Canadian Rockies. I had no idea how the DeLorean would handle the snow. After those ten harrowing minutes, I can now tell you now that it handles fine but I don’t recommend trying it.
The adrenaline rush of navigating the snowstorm had barely worn off before the DeLorean started losing power and died as I tried to climb a winding mountain road. Of all of the places for the car to break down, this was certainly one of the worst. The nearest glimmer of civilization was Toad River, BC, about a 20 minute drive away. The DeLorean’s gas gauge had been behaving erratically, so we had used the follow car’s gauge as a reference since both cars got roughly the same mileage. The follow car’s tank read about a quarter full, so I decided to try the simplest solution first and head to Toad River with our spare gas can. I spent the eternal 40-minute round-trip with a knot in my stomach before we could get back and put a few gallons in the tank. I’d never come up with a solid Plan B for this trip, so it felt like a miracle when I turned the key and the DeLorean leapt to life.
After a few more days on the Alcan, we hit the Alaska border. A few hundred miles later I was greeted by a crowd of friends and Fairbanks media as we pulled into town right on time. The DeLorean had performed like a champ. It didn’t even get a chip in the windshield.
While most people assume a DeLorean is not an ideal car for this type of trip, I’ve decided it’s the only way to travel. The more I drove the car, the more it seemed to come alive and the more I loved it.
For pictures, videos, and more information about the trip and Rob’s upcoming documentary, visit BacktoAlaska.com or Facebook.com/deloreanroadtrip.