MACKINAW CITY – Robert Prince is originally from East Lansing. After earning his masters from Michigan State University, he moved to Fairbanks, Alaska to teach video production. In 2017 Prince had the chance to take a sabbatical from teaching and decided to return to Michigan with his wife and daughter for two important reasons: to spend time with family, and to buy a DeLorean.
Now, Prince is road-tripping back to Fairbanks in his new car and making a documentary about his trip with his friend Chris Carew.
Prince has always liked the DeLorean. For him, riding in a DeLorean is like reentering his youth and the 1980s. The car is the “ultimate memento of the 80s,” said Prince.
Despite the car’s popularity, only about 9,200 DeLoreans were made between 1981 and 1982. There is not an exact count of how many of these iconic cars are still in existence today, but many estimates suggest there are about 7,000 DeLoreans worldwide. Because seeing a DeLorean is so rare and many people associate it with the movie "Back to the Future," Prince has spent a lot of time during the road trip talking with complete strangers about the car while Carew captured the conversations on camera.
Prince and Carew started the road trip and documentary in Grand Fork on Thursday, June 15. At almost every gas station and restaurant, people took pictures of the car and spoke to Prince about his trip. Prince and Carew stopped in Mackinaw City to buy fudge and meet family. Within five minutes of their arrival, one man walked up and asked if he could get a picture in the car.
“'Back to the Future' is my favorite movie, I swear,” said the man as he sat in the driver’s seat and posed for a picture. About two hours later, Prince had a small circle of DeLorean fans surrounding the car and taking pictures of it, with it, and in it. Even those who did not stop to talk with Prince were excited to see the DeLorean.
“We saw a DeLorean in Mackinaw City today,” someone from Indian River exclaimed.
Though each stop is longer than Prince and Carew originally planned when they decided to make a documentary about the trip, Prince enjoys being able to share his new car with anyone and everyone. According to Prince, many DeLorean owners don’t drive their car or only drive them on special occasions. Prince’s DeLorean had less than 20,000 miles when he bought it. Prince, however, wants to use it as a normal car when he returns to Fairbanks.
“I like being able to share it with people,” he said.
While the car looks very unique, Prince says it runs well. The air conditioning stops and starts every once in a while, but the biggest problem Prince has had on the trip is making sure all of his cameras are on when they need to be filming and changing their batteries when they die.
Prince has even gone 88 miles per hour without traveling back in time.