When I was a kid, I remember driving through Atlanta with my family on our way to Florida. It was dark and the lights on the side of the highway illuminated a car pulling up on our left. The lights played over the bright green paint and I lifted my head from the window sill to look up at a Chevy Caprice. It wasn't too long before we saw another one and another one and another one. All brightly-colored and riding on impossibly big rims. It's hard to forget the first time you see a donk.
Born in the Miami, the term donk came from the Impala's logo which someone, somewhere at some time thought looked surprisingly like a donkey. The term stuck, but it also means other cars that are not Impalas from a certain period of time are not donks (If would like to know the other classifications of hi-risers, check out this link). A hi-riser is any car large, American sedan or coupe that has been modified with large rims and a lifted body. They are usually brightly colored, and occasionally themed. It's claimed that they are the most hated car culture, but I think there's room for everyone who loves cars.
Juan Capo owns a donk, and a pretty unique one at that. His lifted Camaro is a new twist on donks, and he took a little time to answer some of my questions about donks and why everything I just said in the last two sentences is wrong:
TheSupremeLou: I'm going to start with the obvious question: How big are your rims?
Juan Capo: My wheels are 32'' Starr wheels 32 x10.
TSL: How much is the car lifted to fit those?!
JC: The car is lifted 12'' total 4'' body lift & 8'' suspension lift.
TSL: What else have you done to your car? Is it all for show or are there some performance parts under the hood?
JC: Well to put 32s on such a small coupe took a lot more than just a lift. I had to upgrade the steering, transmission, gears, drive shaft, bearings and install an upgraded tuner chip for extra HP. My car also has a 6,000-watt music system which consist of 2 15'' kicker solobaric l7s as well as all upgraded mids, high speakers and tweeters. It also has chrome halo projector lights, a custom white upper and lower grill and HID Lighting.
TSL: What first attracted you to donks and the car scene?
JC: I was first attracted to the donk and the car scene when I was about 6 years old. Living in Little Havana, I used to be playing outside my grandmother's house with my friends, and used to see these outrageously painted cars with big wheels and loud music always driving by. It was then when I decided I would build the biggest, baddest one as soon as I was of age to drive.
TSL: Are there any unforeseen problems with your car being lifted so much? Have you ever run into a low overhang at a drive thru window or something along those lines?
JC: No unforeseen problems with being so high because my car is a coupe and even lifted as high as it is, it's still not as tall as most trucks. Good things about being so high are easy oil changes, and you don't have to worry about floods or running something over lol.
TSL: It seems most people who have donks tend to go for older American cars to modify, but you've got a new Camaro. What made you decide to go with a new model instead of something classic like a Caprice?
JC: Everybody chooses old school classic cars when it comes to building a donk. Miami is the originator of these donks and classic cars lifted on big wheels. You can drive through South Beach and see these things back to back every color, every size and style wheel possible. So when I had the chance to build a car like no one has ever seen I chose a new style body. It's a new age and, although the Donks will always be a part of our culture, I wanted to raise the bar when it came to the game. It's much less costly to buy a 1971 Chevy impala for $5,000 and put new paint, wheels, interior, and music into it than it is to buy a new car alone with no mods. Being that Donks are Chevy's I went and built what in my eyes would be a more modern day Donk. You can drive down any hood in Miami and see these classic Donks all over the place. But there is only 1 of my car roaming the streets of Miami.
TSL: What type of reactions do you usually get when people see your car?
JC: The reactions are crazy; Everyone wants a picture of it or with it. I had to put all limo tint on it because every time I take it out people just don't stop taking pictures of it and try to talk to me about it. I once had a little kid no older than 6 or 7 say, "God daaaaam" when I drove past him lol his mom didn't like the comment too much and gave him a bop in the mouth, but he stayed with a smile on his face the whole time.
TSL: If you don't mind me asking, do you know how much you've spent modifying your car?
JC: Just in mods and man hours of work I have over $20k into it and Around $50k into it including the car.
TSL: All I can say is: God damn. How does your girlfriend feel about you spending so much money on a car?
JC: No girlfriend No problem.
TSL: Any big plans for the future?
JC: My current project and plans for the future are the same concept except a 2014 Camaro convertible on 32'' wheels as well. It's in the making right now and will probably be released at the beginning of the new year.
TSL: What would be your advice to anyone who feels like their rims just aren't big enough, even if they're scraping the wheel well?
**JC: **My advice to anyone who feels that their rims aren't big enough even though they scrape the wheel well is lift it go higher and go bigger. I always used to feel like my wheels weren't big enough so I just went higher and put the biggest size sold to this date. I no longer have the feeling that my wheels are not of size.
You can find more of Juan's ride on his Instagram page @ibeenpaid_on32s