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What Is a Donk Car? Which Are the Best Cars to Donk?

  • Cars Explained
  • Renee Martin
  • 8 minutes

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For those on the outside, the world of custom cars might seem like a bit of a rabbit hole with various terms to describe their unique takes on automobile customizations. For instance, if you’ve seen a big-bodied, high-riding car with wheels like the chariots of yore, you’ve probably just seen a donk. “What on God’s good earth is a donk?” you wonder. We’ll explain all that we know.  

We’ve already introduced you to the concept of donk cars in our blog, What Is a Box Chevy? More About This Donk Car.

But now we’ll get into more details. In recent years, the wildly modified automobiles have become increasingly popular thanks to their appearances on television shows, various social media platforms, and racing events. The best of classic and modern custom cars are regularly showcased at these shows and never fail to wow. The term donk car is used rather frequently on these shows.  But you probably won’t know what it means unless you’re a die-hard motorhead

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So then, what exactly is a donk car? 

If you’re a purist, donk refers specifically to a modified Chevrolet Caprice or Impala from 1971 to 1976 that’s been given the high-riser treatment. This includes huge wheels (24-inches is the bare minimum), low-profile tires, and plenty of ground clearance. Unfortunately, nowadays, the term is loosely used for any customized vehicle with large tires.  

Chevy Donk Downtown Miami” by Phillip Pessar is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

Most real donks also sport personalized graphic and paint treatment, extra chrome plating, elaborate interiors, adjustable lighting, and powerful entertainment systems. In addition, the performance modification of donks is on the rise. In recent years, donks have been at major drag events like LS Fest. 

Traditionalists of the “donk” subculture sometimes use the term “high-rider” or “hi-rider” to refer to Chevrolet cars that aren’t full-size but have been modified in the same vein. Some of these are as elaborate and customized as the best lowriders. However, their owners choose to lift their vehicles rather than use hydraulics to lower them. 

 The hallmark of the donk is a set of massive wheels that must be custom-mounted on the car. In addition, the suspension, the body, and the drivetrain may need to be adjusted to fit and propel the massive rollers. Though the squatted truck trend, which raised automobiles unevenly front to back, appears to be fading, some drivers still prefer a higher front end. 

Which are the best cars to donk?

We’d go with the classics – Chevy Impala and the Caprice, also called Box Chevys. But the Buick LeSabre and the Cadillac Eldorado are also donk-able cars.  Nowadays, the cars like the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Crown Victoria, the Oldsmobile Cutlass, and many more are used for donking. While some may argue that any type of large and heavy automobile is worthy of donk-hood. But purists argue that only the Caprice and Impala deserve the label. 

Most popular donk cars 

You might not know what to look for in a donk if you’ve never been to Atlanta or Miami, both donk strongholds. Popular vehicles that are modified into “donks” include: 

Chevy Impala 

Everyone seems to have a soft spot in their heart for the Chevy Impala. They have ideal lines that appeal to lowriders, drag racers, classic vehicle fans, and even young children. Some purists may look askance at a spotless Impala that has been raised to the moon and back in the donk world, but it doesn’t stop the occasional outlier. 

Cadillac Fleetwood 

You won’t find a domestic sedan with a longer wheelbase than a Cadillac Fleetwood. They don’t really handle very well and are difficult to park. Their size, though, makes them attractive to customizers who want to make a big statement as they drive down the street. 

Ford Crown Victoria 

 Crown Vics are readily available and simple to repair. Hot rodders searching for an easy entry into the donk scene sometimes choose to modify these former police vehicles. 

Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme  

Even while Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes were formerly considered a “cool ride” among drag racers, their appeal has since faded in the donk scene. But some still like to drive elegant coupes that stand out in a sea of lifted sedans. 

This is not a comprehensive list, though. Cars as diverse as Camaros, Mustangs, Lexus Rx300s, and Mazda Miatas have all been donked.  

Some drivers don’t care about how their cars handle or make sense when they change them, which is why some people have called it “the most hated trend in cars.”  

Why is it called a donk? 

Nobody knows for sure where the phrase first appeared. Some Impala owners saw resemblances between the Impala insignia and a donkey, which may have inspired the name. After years of use, the word “donkey” was shortened to “donk,” and the term “donk car” came into existence. 

The history of donk cars 

There is no record of when the donk vehicle trend first started. But we know that it emerged in the early 1990s in southern Florida. It may very well have seemed like a passing fad at the time. But, this auto customization trend has gained followers throughout the country since it first appeared. 

South Beach Memorial Day Urban Weekend 2011 Chevy” by Phillip Pessar is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

It was in drag racing events that donks first gained widespread recognition. Cars with such a heavy focus on aesthetics and a high center of gravity look like they weren’t made for racing. But the inclusion of high-performance racing engines has made these cars a common sight at most amateur racing events. 

A donk vehicle is a common sight in modern society. There are already garages dedicated to making one-of-a-kind donks. Someone has even started a National Donk Racing Association! So it’s safe to assume that this car subculture will stick around for a fair bit.  

How fast are donk cars? 

You would be correct in thinking that some of these are impractical and difficult to drive. However, there are experts out there who can donks that are legit good to drive. In some parts of the United States, donk drag racing is extremely popular, drawing thousands of spectators and hundreds of high-powered vehicles to each event. Not every donk is made to drive fast, but some of them sure are. Some of them boast a thousand-plus horsepower and sub-10-second quarter-mile timings, even though the same engine would be quicker in a smaller, lighter vehicle with smaller wheels.

Why donk are cars risky 

All car mods have their own dangers, just like any other major customization. Unfortunately, risks for donks can rise almost to the level of their oil pans. It’s not uncommon for a donk car to have issues such as shattered wheel studs, broken lug nuts, blown suspension, burned transmissions, and crappy brakes.  

As if the cars’ mechanical issues weren’t bad enough, driving them can be a living hell. Too much speed going into a turn in a donk can lead to a sudden loss of traction and a spinout. Also, a sharp turn can cause the lug nuts to break off a donk, leaving the vehicle stuck.  

To make things worse, donks are also dubbed cop magnets due to the cops’ propensity to follow them. 

Many people will gawk at a donk when they see one. They stand out from the crowd and are sure to get attention with how loud and unusual they are. Are you thinking of entering the donk world? Then you must beef up your vehicle’s suspension, brakes, and tires before you hit the road for the first time. Putting 26-inch wheels on a car without any other modifications can be dangerous. 

How to find the best auto insurance for your donk car 

Whether you’ve just purchased an Impala or Caprice to alter it or already own a fully loaded donk car, you need a solid insurance policy to safeguard your investment. Thankfully, the Way.com app will handle the legwork of comparing auto insurance prices across providers, so you don’t have to. 

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The Way.com auto super app gets you competitive rates from 200 leading auto insurance providers. The app also eliminates the need to wait and bargain with a salesperson to gain access to these incredible savings. After doing the math, the average annual savings is $971, which just takes two minutes to calculate.   

Have auto coverage already? We have no issue with that at all. The Way.com app can help you save time and money by handling the tedious tasks of switching insurance providers and canceling your previous policy.

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