Hey Jalopnik: This Is A Donk

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

(Our friends at RIDES have responded to our Donk Guide. Here's their take, and our response. — Ed.)

Hip hop has always been misinterpreted by outsiders. Yet, even the most uninformed are socially conscious enough to distinguish between Kendrick Lamar and Chief Keef, or Jay-Z and Riff Raff. The distinction between an artist who admires his craft and a talent-less poser seeking stardom is obvious. Hip hop closely parallels big rim car culture, which many have erroneously labeled ‘Donks'.


Recently our pals over at Jalopnik dropped another ‘Donk' post and as usual, it's full of the typical side-poking rhetoric their readers are accustomed to, with the naïve oversights we'd expect. We do agree with Jalopnik on one thing: this genre (however mislabeled) is the most hated section of car culture. But instead of bitching about all the hate, we decided to help you out, Jalopnik reader guy.

First things first: the literal classification of a Donk is a ‘71-76 Chevy Impala or Caprice – regardless of how big the wheels are. Why the name Donk? Similar to hip hop vernacular, the definition's origin is up for debate and at this point it really doesn't matter. Admittedly, it could be our fault people make the flawed connection, though. Back in 2006, we put the word Donk on a magazine cover next to a '72 Caprice on big wheels. We assumed people would actually open the magazine to find the detailed glossary of terms instead of simply perusing the cover and creating the mindless ‘BIG WHEELS = DONK' assumption. Do we wish there was a word that properly encompassed the genre like Lowrider or Stance? Of course.


Every custom car genre has their outliers and extreme examples. The import tuner crowd, for example, clearly endured the ramifications from the ‘ricers' degrading the genre's overall perception with their double-decker spoilers, horsepower-adding vinyl and floppy fiberglass body kits. Other genres, like the Stance scene (Elvis from Stance Nation once corrected me that the more-accurate term is Aggressive Fitment) has some gorgeous rides — but when people start throwing hate, they use this as the example. You get where I'm going with this.

Pictured above is an excellent example of a true Donk. For all intents and purposes, this is the Jay-Z of the scene and that Spongebob-themed Crown Vic (not pictured) is the Riff Raff (also not pictured). This '73 Caprice has a computer-controlled, fuel-injected 632 big block, Baer big brake system and staggered 26" Forgiato wheels, and is built better than most of the numbers-matching Chevelles that are worshiped like deities. And maybe more importantly than what this convertible has is what it doesn't have: lifted suspension, goofy theme and some ignorant asshole behind the wheel perpetuating the stereotype. And that's the point-not all cars with wheels over 20″ are silly Donks…and this and this aren't remotely in the same game.


A Response


This is your friendly neighborhood white guy rap dude Raphael speaking. Okay RIDES, I see what you're trying to say and I agree. There are donks like this '73 Caprice that are amazing, classy custom cars. They have been made with great craft and they shouldn't be lumped together with half-assed lifted Crown Vics with toilets in them. I get that, and people should understand that there are tons of donks deserving respect.

I'm going to pause here, because that's an important point...

And now that I got that significantly more important point out of the way, let me get back in to defend myself, because with every respectable car culture, there is a problem of pedantic guys who use terminology to keep people out. Using carefully crafted lingo as code words is played out anyway. Nobody but kids in their mom's basement is posting on Urbandictionary anymore.


Think about what you're writing, man. Think about standing at a car show next to a slammed VW and saying, "oh no, it's not stance, it's aggressive fitment." Do you know how snooty that sounds? That's like telling your friend that ‘oh no, I only listen to the Beatles' 1966 records, never their '64 works. They're worlds apart."

Back in 2006, people might have been strict about calling '71-'76 full size Chevys "Donks," '77-'90 GM cars "Boxes," and ‘90s full-sizers "Bubbles," but that's just not relevant anymore. I used to point that shit out. I used to be that guy. But I've moved on. Now we live in a world with Nissan Muranos on 28s. Things have changed, as I'm sure you know. It's fine to talk about the donk/box/bubble distinction academically, but don't act like you don't know a donk when you see one.


That's just some bullshit that I have with any car subculture, or with any rabid pack of rap fans who "only listen to the classics" for that matter.

So thank you, seriously, for pointing out that there are Jay-Zs of the donk world and Riff Raffs, too, but don't act like you didn't like the beat on "Bird on a Wire".


Photo Credit: Andrew Link, Josh Koonce