Cohort Sighting: The Other-Worldly Skylark


A goodly number of spleens have been vented on donks here, on more than one occasion. I try to see them in the same light as all customization trends since that concept was invented in the 1910s or so: the desire by (mostly) young men to stand out from the crowd and be noticed, as that demographic is so typically wont to do. And that almost inevitably means doing things that the older generations will likely scorn; that is largely the whole idea, right?  Well, maybe not always, but think Rat Fink, Barris Kustoms, and most of the other ludicrous customization fads of the late 50s and 60s.

Although I try to be non-judgmental about donks and other customizations, and appreciate that it may well be keeping a lot of old cars alive on the streets, I don’t always like looking at them, except for their sheer audaciousness (when they actually deliver that). But this Skylark, posted by Eric Clem, grabbed me in a way just about no other donked car quite ever has before. I quite like it.


For starters (obviously) the chrome-on-black theme is unified on the whole car, and the chrome spokes are not too overpowering. For that matter, the wheels are actually not absurdly large, given the sidewall-less tires (are they really pneumatic, or just solid rubber?).  The stance of the Skylark is only modestly changed from stock, unlike some out there. Donk-understatement.

The spokes evoke the elemental wheel. And the design and shape of the automotive wheel has of course evolved since the wagon wheel days; during the sixties, it was about as small as it ever got, with proportionately the “tallest” tires on them. Since then, the wheels have gotten bigger again, the tires “shorter”. These wheels take that evolution all the way back to the point of the beginning. OK; all that’s rather obvious. What’s the point, already?

As I look at this car, I imagine the reverse course of evolution: that wheels started out small with big, puffy tires, and peaked in the mid-sixties with this. With that mindset, it doesn’t really look that strange, does it? In fact, these wheels look like they really could have been stock. It just means we have to throw out out the deeply-held conception of what the “right” wheels for this car are, or were, in its time.  If you had never seen the cars of this era before, and someone showed you this car, do the wheels really look all that garish or inappropriate? I happen to think not. Maybe my imagination is a bit more limber than yours, but I find that these wheels work rather well with this car, at least visually. I’m not so sure about the ride quality, but then this is strictly a visual exercise.

So is this accidental or on purpose? If the latter; I applaud the owner for their good taste in imagining a Skylark from an alternate universe, where wheel-evolution rolled in reverse. Now try to imagine a current car with 13 inchers…