By on September 21, 2011

While in California to check out Billetproof Nor-Cal last weekend, I had the chance to visit The Island That Rust Forgot. It didn’t take long to find this ’67 Barracuda convertible and today’s find.
Oakland, which is the mainland to Alameda’s island (separated by about 100 yards of estuary), has been Donk Headquarters for many years now. If you want to split hairs, a true donk must be a box Impala, but I guarantee that nobody on Foothill Boulevard would deny donk status to this machine.


At this point, let’s set the proper mood for contemplating this car by putting on some Too $hort.
Now, some Oldsmobile purists might try to say that a classic Cutlass convertible doesn’t look right with this treatment, but the definition of “purist” (as stated by my friend who enraged his purist Econoline Club peers by dropping a 460 in his low-mile, Canadian-market Mercury Econoline) is “someone who won’t piss in the shower.”
As a former Cutlass owner (purple ’69), I think this car looks good as it sits. First, it’s an ancient A-body convertible that still lives on the street. Second, it livens up a neighborhood full of minivans and Lexuses. Third, if a donk belongs on a race track, it certainly belongs on the street.

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47 Comments on “Down On the Alameda Street: 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible Donk...”


  • avatar

    Wonder if the owner modified the suspension to handle the extra weight of the wheels? Guess it’s possible.

    Mag wheels originally had the function of lightening unsprung weight for improved performance. That they looked cool was a bonus.

    Today it’s all about the bling and the style, and I’d bet dollars to donuts those rims are heavier than the steel wheels they replaced. Probably not an issue with this Olds as I’m sure it’s rarely if ever driven in circumstances where it becomes an issue.

    I get the style and can even appreciate it on this Cutlass. But when you start raising the center of gravity and adding unsprung weight…reminds me of the late-60′s and 70′s trend of jacking-up leaf sprung cars with shackles.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Although NOT a big fan of the wheels, I am a lover of expression.
    Let your freak flag fly…I say!

    The car is awesome!

    This style, the teardrop rear end, has always stolen my heart and made mesearch for this look in cars even these 30 years later.
    From the British sports cars of the fifties like the 58 Triumph TR3, or the early mustangs and camaros and firebirds…and then when the look grew into the larger car like this and even larger Pontiac and such large bodies cars.

    There is something about this look that makes a car look THAT look.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    That is just about the stupidest thing I have ever seen. I’m all for tasteful mods, but anything that reduces the usefulness of the vehicle is just a travesty. There are many things on that car that should be fixed before wasting good money on ridiculous rims and rubber band tires. Reminds me of a Yugo I saw in the 80′s with a car phone. This car is the automotive equivalent of saggy pants.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      There are many things on that car that should be fixed before wasting good money on ridiculous rims and rubber band tires

      Like what?

      I mean, I agree that Donking a car is a stupid waste of money – but it’s not my money, and plainly the owner disagrees.

      But I don’t see anything obviously in need of repair on that car.

      The body looks good; I don’t see any rust or obvious damage or even repaired wreck damage waves.

      The paint’s fine. The chrome’s good.

      That convertible top is plainly not original, because it’s in perfect condition, as near as I can tell.

      What do you think needs to be “fixed” in priority? Looks like he’s already restored the body, after all…

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Unless all’s he’s done is simply cosmetic stuff, the suspension may WELL need work to handle the tires/wheels.

        Don’t go by appearance as I’ve seen cars that looked great, but smoked something bad so a lot of these kinds of cars may NOT run all that well but they sure DO look nice though.

        That said, I’ve never seen the benefits of rubber band tires on very large wheels like these or those who actually raise the car’s center of gravity to ridiculousness and then it looks like they are fighting trying to keep the front wheels from wobbling back and forth and thus can’t drive the damned thing at any speed over 20mph or so, or so it appears anyway.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    I wonder what effect those big stupid hoops have on wheel bearings and brakes?

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      Not good things I can guarantee. A wheel is just a round lever, and the leverage increases as the diameter increases. If the car is still equipped with drum brakes (which it probably is, since the owner spent all their money on rims and tires) the braking distance is probably measured in miles. Isn’t it reassuring to know that you are driving around in traffic with these bozos that have no thought to the safety of themselves or others?

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Oldsmobile wanted to offer 17″ wheels on the Alero, but the Small Car Group had to turn them down. The car was not designed to support the increased wheel bearing and chassis loads and could not meet long term dependability requirements with the larger wheels. 16″ were the largest available. This 1968 Cutlass was originally equipped with 14″ wheels and probably drum brakes as well.

        On the other hand, typical driving doesn’t come close to the rigor of vehicle validation testing. The Cutlass would look better if the wheel houses and openings were radiused to match the bigger tires and the car lowered so the wheels are further out in the wheel house. The Cutlass has a sort of step down in diameter in the forms over the wheel openenings that begs to be “relieved” to make room for bigger tires.

      • 0 avatar

        doc,

        The tire, wheel and wheel arch are just about the first things most designers draw when creating a new car design. It’s a crucial relationship and that’s why so many cars look funny with the wrong size rims. I’ve noticed that the more round and circular the wheel well is, the less likely you can get away with really big rims and rubber band tires.

        In this case, though the Cutlass has round wheel openings, they are not full half circles and evoke a teardrop look, so you can get away with a larger rim. A true teardrop wheel arch, though, can tolerate an even larger wheel without looking bizarre.

        Non round wheel openings give you the most leeway when it comes to rim size. The mid ’80s GM intermediates, like the Cutlass for example, have square wheel arches and that’s why the car can look good with tiny 14″ spoke rims on a lowrider and 22″s on a donk.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Hey, stupid Cutlass owner: Ditch those moronic wheels! Nothing like messing up a once-beautiful ride that deserves much better.

    Educator Dan will have plenty to say on this, I’m sure.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    How many thousand watts of car audio in the trunk?

  • avatar
    LTDScott

    Actually, a donk cannot be a box. A donk is a pre-1977 Chevy full size. A box is a ’77-’90, and a bubble is a ’91+.

    The “box Impala” wasn’t made after 1985. In the end, the Impala was just the low end cop/taxi version of the Caprice.

  • avatar
    George B

    Don’t understand the appeal of the super sized wheels, but at least this bolt on modification is easily reversed. It’s a good thing that this beautiful car gets restored and driven.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      exactly.
      so people do silly things to express themselves…the car is the big picture.

      IMO…even on the extremely expensive cars, quad exhaust are just as silly!
      In fact, I wish exhaust were hidden completely. It’s like bragging about excrement!
      Ditto extreme exhaust sounds.
      It is all individual expression.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        My greatest failure on the project car to date has been its exhaust system. Even with additional resonators custom cut to fit into the few remaining cubic inches under the body, wide oval exhaust tips tucked high under the bumper and barely clearing the bodywork, and firing the exhaust down into the pavement to reduce its noise signature, we can’t hide the sound of its LS2 heart. There won’t be any nasty surprises in store for anyone who knows what to listen and look for; it draws too much attention to its attempts to not draw too much attention to itself.

        I’m still torn between going with a rechromed roof rack to visually tie the top of the car to the shiny aluminum wheels or leaving it off and sealing up the holes once we’re ready for paint. With black chrome in use everywhere else, I’m not sure including it in the final mix would be harmonious.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      .
      re George B comment…….fully agree….can’t believe how worked up people get over simply removable add-ons. This is just a young guy expressing himself in a 2011 environment, but saving the car for future collectors’ enjoyment.

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    Those wheels look dumb on full sized SUV’s and they look really dumb on a car. It looks like its on its tip-toes. That said, it’s not my car and the owner can do whatever trips his trigger. I still reserve the right to both think it looks dumb and to pee in the shower when the need arises.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Massive, boat anchor rims with low profile tires look espcially terrible on an SUV – doubly so when combined with a lift kit. Makes me wonder if these same people would put mud terrains on a Corvette? Although still tacky at least a muscle car (probably) won’t be driven off road.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Taste-free zone: beautiful car ruined by ugly wheels and stupid owner.

  • avatar

    t-t-t-t-t-too $hort!

    more Sir Too $hort will be appreciated – perhaps a comparo between all the cars on the cover of $hort Dog’s in the House?

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    I guess I’ve been in Oakland too long. It took until the comments to register that this was unusual to people somehow.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    And I’ve been in LA too long. This is par for the course here.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Don’t feel bad, we have these “wheel renters” in Cincinnati, too!

    • 0 avatar
      steeringwithmyknees

      I see these sort of cars on Chicago’s pot-holed jokes called streets. They tend to not be as common in the winter and it seems like overall, I dont see as many as I used to.

      Anyway, all you olds who dont like what someone else does to their ride should, as car enthusiasts, appreciate these for what they are: cars modified to personal taste and often restored by loving owners. I for one, think these are a hell of a lot better and more interesting than a Porsche SUV (no offense to anyone who has one – and if you do have one, really i guess i am jealous in a way).

      For those talking about the driving dynamics and safety as a result of wheels like this, often the suspension is modded as well. However, have you ever seen a donk weaving and cutting people off doing 50 in a crowded 25mph city street? If so, you have a valid complaint, but I’ve never seen that – they are always cruising at about 5 below the speed limit with plenty of space ahead to the next car (presumably driven by the owner who knows full well his car is cop bait).

      Live and let live??

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        Hear, hear.

        The saddest part of this article are most of the commenters’ attitudes. An enthusiast car sub-culture has a different set of priorities and taste for aesthetics, so let’s collective shit on them. Really? None of you guys have made functional sacrifices for the sake of style?

        I noticed that there weren’t nearly the rate of derogatory comments on the Murilee’s rat rod article. That’s a hipsters on wheels culture if ever there was one.

        At least these donks are being cleaned up and worked on by people who give something of two shits about the car instead of being on cinder blocks in a trailer park somewhere.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    Nice car STUPID Wheels

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Although I despise the stupid rims, the lengths these owners go to be somewhat original is really impressive. I bought an issue of “Donk, Box & Bubble”, 90% off at Borders WOOO!!!, and its amazing what some of these guys do. Built 455s, 492s, twin-turbo 468s, full custom interiors, intriguing paint colors, really nice stuff. Too bad they have to put 26-30″ rims on.

    And then there’s the women. OMFG. 36DD-27-42. Baby got back.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Yah , I’m no purist, But over sized wheels will raise cain with suspension that isnt engineered for them. (anything less than a 3/4 ton truck) IIRC, stock tires for a ’68 Cutlass were 800 X 14. The 68 Cutlass was a pretty car. If the guy loves the car, he will drive it with due consideration for it’s age.

  • avatar
    K5ING

    Ouch! My eyes!! Sorry, but I’m a big fan of the ’68-’69 body style. I’ve owned two ’69 Cutlass ‘S’ cars, both gold, one 2dr ht, and one convertible.

    http://caughtatthecurb.blogspot.com/2011/02/couple-of-cutlasss.html

    Sorry, Ms. Martin, but I think this ’68 stinks. I guess I wold consider myself a purist, but I still piss in the shower.

  • avatar
    CougarXR7

    On my ’72 Delta 88 conv. I briefly had a set of mint old polished Centerlines I bought off Craigslist for $400. They were classic size- 15X7 with 235/75R15 truck / SUV blackwalls.

    They looked nice and improved the car’s handling, but I soon decided I liked the stock look better and went back to the orignal steelies, hubcaps, and whitewalls.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    I like it. Mostly because it pisses people off.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      Heh. There’s something to that. I admit I cringe looking at these wheels, while fondly remembering my ’69 Cutlass “S”.

      At least wheels are easily reversible. The rest of the car is beautiful.

  • avatar

    I sold my Velocity wheels to a guy on Ebay from my first Chrysler 300 and he built this monstrosity:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/38614316@N00/6170694649/in/photostream

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, that Caddy looks not terrible. It kind of proves my point about non-round wheel arches and big wheels. Not my cup of tea and unless there are lower rate springs to make up for the higher spring rate of a large wheel / low aspect ration tire combination, it’s not going to have a Cadillac ride, but for a donk, it’s not a bad looking car.

    • 0 avatar
      eldo500

      Rest assured, those wheels would turn any car into a monstrosity.

      • 0 avatar

        My first 300 looked good with these wheels. EVERYONE COMMENTED ON THAT. I just got tired of getting flats all the time and wasting money.

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/38614316@N00/4992259792/in/photostream

        I’d never put 22′s on a car again – and my SRT8′s 20′s are so fun and sexy.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The best part of this silly massive over-sized rubber band wheel trend is that it is easily reversible. Yes a nice ride, thousands less in tire replacement costs, accurate speedometers, lighter weight wheels and less unsprung weight, much less stress on the brakes, suspension and wheel bearings and a sane look are a just a 4 rubber band swap out away


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