Curbside Capsule: 2015 Dodge Challenger & 1991 Ford Mustang GT – Forced Perspective

A forced perspective picture with “Monument To Joe Louis” in the background. Detroit, Michigan. Sunday, March 18, 2018.


Merriam-Webster defines “forced perspective (n.)” as “the use of any of various techniques (as in photography or architecture) to create the optical illusion that objects or people are smaller, larger, closer, or farther away than they really are”.  It’s a really fun concept to play with when taking pictures.  It’s a technique I have explored when photographing scale models, miniatures, or even a willing photo subject who I had posed and captured to give the “Monument To Joe Louis” a fist-bump while in Detroit a couple of years ago.

Close to a quarter-century separate this c. 2015 Dodge Challenger and the c. 1991 Ford Mustang GT behind it.  Both (mostly) follow the same “ponycar” formula and are true to the RWD / (available-)V8 combination. In terms of size, styling and execution, they couldn’t appear more different on a superficial level.  I can’t vouch for the exact model year of either car, due to minor external changes within a few model years of each example (both before and after 1991 for the Mustang, and since 2015 for the Challenger).  For the sake of comparison, though, let’s move forward with my premise: Is their apparent difference in size really as vast as it appears above, or is a lot of it due mostly to my camera angle?  After snapping a few shots, my curiosity led me to research the respective dimensions of both cars.

The Challenger is at least a 2015 model, as evidenced by its front grille (which I understand is slightly obscured above in the dim, morning light) and rear panel and taillamps.  This is an evolution of the same, basic design that went into production in April of 2008 for that same model year.  This Chally stretches 197.7″ from front-to-rear, is 75.7″ wide, and is anywhere from 55.7″to 57.5″ tall, depending on whether it has the 18″ or the 20″ rims (which I can’t tell from these photographs).  I am by no means “up” on these new Challengers, but if this model is an R/T model from 2015, it likely has a 375-horse 5.7L Hemi V8 under the hood and is capable of 0-60 mph times of just over five seconds.  This is for a car that weighs (literally) just over two tons.

This latter-day Fox-platform Mustang GT hatchback does actually have much more modest exterior dimensions than the Dodge, measuring in at 179.6″ long from bumper-to-bumper (over a foot and a half shorter), 68.3″ wide (7.4″ narrower), and just 52.1″ tall on its 16-inch “Pony” rims.  I remember having lamented how tall my ’88 Mustang LX had looked next to a similar-generation Chevrolet Camaro, which was only between 50.2″ and 50.4″ tall.  (Times have changed, as this Challenger has almost truck-like height in comparison to the ‘Stang.)  This was all on a wheelbase of 100.5″.  Its 4.9L V8 (called a “5.0”) was rated at 225 horsepower, and the GT hatchback had a base curb weight of 3,190 pounds (almost 25% less than the base Challenger).  According to one test, it was capable of going from 0-60 mph in only 7.3 seconds when equipped with the five-speed manual.

The shot I had wanted of both cars, directly front-to-back in full-on side profile, was impossible to get on this narrow-ish, neighborhood side-street.  When one looks at the numbers, however, they really aren’t that surprising, considering the age gap between the two cars and also the fact that the Challenger is classified as a midsizer, while this generation of Mustang was based on Ford’s clean-sheet, rear-wheel-drive compact platform from the late-’70s.  Still, seeing these two cars together brought back a lot of memories of my teenage years, when the Mustang “5.0” went head to head with GM’s F-Body Chevrolet Camaro / Pontiac Firebird fraternal twins for ponycar performance dominance, and when Dodge’s turbocharged, FWD Daytona hatchback was the closest that the Pentastar organization got at that time to entering the ring.

Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, February 18, 2020.