Head-to-Head Comparison: 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang vs. 2008 Challenger SRT8

Performance Mustang vs. Performance Challenger - A Genuine Muscle Car Showdown

GT500 vs. SRT8. Photos © Ford Motor Company and Chrysler

What do you get when you pit a 5.4L Shelby Mustang against a 6.1L performance Challenger? Aside from the smoke and burning rubber, you’ve got yourself a genuine muscle car showdown.

In this article we’ll compare the 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang and the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8. In a previous comparison we pitted the Mustang GT against the Challenger SRT8. The goal was to see if the basic GT Mustang could hold its own against the performance Challenger.

In the end, the lighter 4.6L Mustang was able to keep up with the heavier SRT8 Challenger in the numbers game. What about the Shelby GT500? Now that we’ve got an apples-to-apples comparison, who will drive away the victor?

 

Powertrain: The Shelby Puts Out More Power, and Possibly Better Track Times

First things first, let’s take a look at Dodge’s performance Challenger (MSRP $40,095). The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 features a 6.1L SRT HEMI engine which Dodge says can produce 425 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. This 6.1L engine is designed to give the SRT8 power. Truth be told, it also weighs the car down. The end result is a curb weight of 4,140 lbs for the Challenger SRT8.

The Challenger’s power reaches the pavement with help from 20-inch alloy wheels featuring size 245/45 all-season tires. The car comes to a stop courtesy of 14-inch Brembo brakes fitted with four-piston calipers.

Now enter the 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang Coupe (MSRP $42,170).

For starters the name Shelby conjures up power and performance. In fact some might instantly think this car can really get up and go. You know what? They’re right. With its 5.4L V8 engine, the car is capable of outputting an estimated 500 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque. Although the Shelby GT500 Mustang is heavier than the GT we previously reviewed, it’s still lighter than the Challenger SRT8.

The Shelby GT500 coupe weighs in with a curb weight 3,920 lbs. Put away the calculator. The Shelby Mustang is 220 lbs. lighter than the performance Challenger. It also produces 75 more hp than Dodge’s performance car.

The Shelby GT500 Mustang rides on 18 x 9.5-inch machined aluminum wheels with SVT center caps. It features P255/45Z18 front tires and P285/40ZR18 rear tires. Braking is achieved with the help of Brembo 14-inch vented discs fitted with four-piston aluminum calipers in the front and 11.8-inch diameter vented discs fitted with two-piston calipers in the back.

While the 2008 Challenger SRT8 is only available with an automatic transmission, the Shelby GT500 is only available with a Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual transmission. Let’s be honest. Most performance vehicles are equipped with a standard transmission. Is this a weak point for the Challenger SRT8? You be the judge.

 

 

POWERTRAIN

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

 

  • 6.1-Liter SRT HEMI V8 Engine
  • 5-Speed Automatic Transmission
  • 425 hp and 420 lb.-ft of torque

 

2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang

  • 5.4L V8 Engine
  • Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual transmission
  • 500 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque

Okay, we know that the Challenger SRT8 is heavier than the Shelby GT500.

Will this impact its performance figures on the track? Let’s take a look.

According to a Car and Driver magazine test, the Challenger SRT8 can achieve 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds with a quarter mile in 13.3 seconds. No doubt about it, the performance Challenger is fast. What about the Shelby Mustang?

According to a road test in the July 2006 issue of Car and Driver magazine, the boys from Ann Arbor clocked their Shelby GT500 at 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds with the quarter-mile at 12.9 seconds. Although the Challenger SRT8 is quick, it does appear as though the Shelby GT500 is the faster of the two.

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

  • Vehicle Curb Weight: 4,140 lbs.
  • 0 to 60 mph: 4.8 sec (Car and Driver Test Results)
  • 1/4 Mile Time: 13.3 sec (Car and Driver Test Results)

2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang

  • Vehicle Curb Weight: 3,920 lbs.
  • 0 to 60 mph: 4.5 seconds (Car and Driver Test Results)
  • 1/4 Mile Time: 12.9 seconds (Car and Driver Test Results)

 

Pricing and Efficiency: Closely Matched But The Mustang Gets Better Mileage

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; nothing in life is free. If you want a car that can outperform the competition, be prepared to pay the price. Fortunately, buyers looking for the better deal will find the 2008 Shelby GT500 and 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 similarly priced.

The 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang coupe has a retail price of around $42,170 and a base invoice price of $38,101.

Ford’s destination fee for this pony car is $745. Shelby GT500 owners can expect to get 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway with an EPA estimated fuel cost of $3,009 based on 15,000 miles a year. The EPA says it costs $5.35 to drive the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 25 miles, while the cost to drive the Shelby GT500 25 miles is $5.02.

The 2008 Challenger SRT8 has an MSPR of $40,095 and a destination charge of $675. As for gas mileage, owners can expect to get 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway. The EPA estimates an annual gasoline cost of $3,212 for the Challenger, which is based on 15,000 miles a year. There is a $2,100 gas-guzzler tax associated with a Challenger SRT8 purchase. The Shelby GT500 comes with $1,300 gas-guzzler tax.

Although the Shelby GT500 is $2,075 more expensive than the Challenger, the gas-guzzler tax for each will make the Challenger a better deal by only $1,275 when all is said and done.

This, of course, is based on MSRP. The chances of purchasing either of these vehicles and paying sticker is unlikely due to the demand for each. Prepare, instead, to pay “fair market value”.

PRICE AND EFFICIENCY

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
  • Base Invoice Price: $34,803/Retail Price: $40,095
  • Destination Charge: $675
  • 13 mpg city/18 mpg
  • $3,212 EPA Estimated Yearly Fuel Cost
  • EPA Estimates $5.35 cost per 25 miles driven

2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang

  • Base Invoice Price: $38,101/Retail Price: $42,170
  • Destination Charge: $745
  • 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
  • $3,009 EPA Estimated Yearly Fuel Cost
  • EPA Estimates $5.02 cost per 25 miles driven

Interior: Challenger Offers More Standard Features

In the early days, performance vehicles didn’t need spectacular interiors. Their job was to provide exceptional performance. Things have changed. In a world where automotive manufacturers will do almost anything to move inventory, interior features are as important as the number of horses under the hood. There’s nothing wrong with that. As such, both the Challenger SRT8 and the Shelby GT500 Mustang are both well equipped.

For instance, the 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang features leather sport bucket seats with Snake logos embossed in the seatbacks and comes with full power accessories. It also includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a Shaker 500 AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD/MP3 capable player and eight speakers. Don’t forget its unique shift knob with leather shift boot and parking brake handle. An ambient lighting option is also available for those looking to change the color of their Shelby interior at night.

For an additional price buyers can move up to the GT500 Premium Interior Trim Package which includes wrapped and stitched instrument panel brow and center condole with upgraded door armrest, electrochromic rearview mirror, and aluminum pedal covers. Other optional features include Sirius satellite radio and a 1000 watt audio system with AM/FM stereo, in-dash six-disc CD/MP3 player, and 10 speakers.

The Challenger SRT8, on the other hand, comes standard with heated leather front-sport seats, full power accessories, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. As for audio, buyers get a 13-speaker Kicker High Performance audio system which features a 322-watt amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer, and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. A MyGIG infotainment system with navigation, as well as a sunroof, is available for an additional cost.

Overall, the Challenger offers up more standard interior features than the Mustang does. This should come as no surprise to the many Mustang owners who have told me the Ford Mustang’s interior needs to be reworked. If Ford were to include the GT500 Premium Interior Trim Package as standard equipment, the two would be more closely matched. The Mustang does offer a more powerful sound system with the 500-watt Shaker 500 setup. Unfortunately, heated seats are an additional cost, while heated-side mirrors are not an option at all. The 2008 Shelby GT500 does not come with a sunroof option. Shelby buyers can purchase a convertible GT500 instead.

INTERIOR FEATURES AND STANDARD EQUIPMENT

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
  • Standard: 13-speaker Kicker High Performance audio system (w/322-watt amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer)
  • Standard: Heated leather front-sport seats
  • Standard: Full Power Accessories
  • Standard: Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Optional: Sunroof

2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang

  • Standard: 8-speaker Shaker 500 AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD/MP3 capable player
  • Standard: Leather front-sport seats
  • Standard: Full Power Accessories
  • Optional: Shaker 1000 premium audio system
  • Optional: GT500 Premium Interior Trim Package
  • Optional: Heated seats

The Final Word: Performance Car or Performance PR?

When all is said and done, it’s easy to see there are obvious differences between the 2008 Challenger SRT8 and the Shelby GT500. Yes, the Challenger SRT8 is a performance vehicle, but why did Dodge decide to only offer it up with an automatic transmission? Being able to determine your own shift points is important when driving a performance car. Die-hard performance enthusiasts will most likely see this as an apparent weakness. Fortunately for Dodge, the 2009 SRT8 will feature a 6-speed manual transmission. This was revealed at the New York International Auto Show in March of 2008.

Another observation is that of power and performance times. With a 6.1L SRT HEMI V8 engine, one would think the Challenger would be a beast of a machine. It’s fast, I’ll give Dodge that, but as recent road tests confirm, the SRT8 Challenger is a slightly slower ride than the Shelby GT500. It's a close match up, less than a second off the lead of the GT500 in the 0-60 and 1/4 mile time trials. But the Shelby still wins out in the end. A Motor Trend comparison test further proved that the Shelby GT500 is quicker than the Challenger.

In its current form, the Challenger comes off as a performance car designed for wealthy commuters and daily drivers; not a performance car designed for performance drivers. With a few minor tweaks here and there, the car is a solid performer.

For now, my money’s on the Shelby GT500. It’s got “True American Sports car” written all over it, inside and out.

Complete Side-By-Side Comparison

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 (Automatic) / 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang Coupe (Standard 6-speed)
  • PRICE

  • Retail: $40,095/$42,170
  • Destination Charge: $675/$745
  • Base: $34,803/$38,101

    PERFORMANCE DATA

  • Base Number of Cylinders: 8/8
  • Base Engine Size: 6.1 liters/ 5.4 liters
  • Base Engine Type: V8/ V8
  • Transmission: 5-speed Automatic/Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual
  • Horsepower: 425 hp/500 hp
  • Max Horsepower: 6200 rpm/ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 420 ft-lbs./ 480 lb.-ft.
  • Max Torque: 4800 rpm/ 4,500 rpm
  • 0-60 MPH: 4.8 seconds/ 4.5 seconds
  • ¼ Mile:13.3/ 12.9 seconds
  • Drive Type: RWD/ RWD
  • Turning Circle: 38.9 ft./ 37 ft.

    FUEL

  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 19 gal./ 16 gal.
  • EPA Mileage Estimates: 13 mpg -18 mpg/ 14 mpg – 20 mpg

    WHEELS AND TIRES

  • Standard: 20-inch wheels with 245/45 all-season tires/18-inch wheels with P255/45Z18 front tires and P285/40ZR18 rear tires
  • Optional: 20-inch wheels with 245/45 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires front and 255-45 rear

    EXTERIOR

  • Length: 197.7 in./188.0 in.
  • Width: 75.7 in./ 73.9 in.
  • Height: 57 in./54.5 in.
  • Wheel Base: 116 in./ 107.1 in.
  • Curb Weight: 4,140 lbs./3,920 lbs.

    INTERIOR

  • Front Head Room: 39.5 in./ 38.6 in.
  • Front Hip Room: 54.7 in./ 53.6 in.
  • Front Shoulder Room: 58.2 in./ 55.4 in.
  • Rear Head Room: 37.4 in./ 35.0 in.
  • Rear Shoulder Room: 53.9 in./53.3 in.
  • Rear Hip Room: 51.4 in./46.7 in.
  • Front Leg Room: 42 in./ 42.7 in.
  • Rear Leg Room: 32.6 in./31.0 in.
  • Maximum Cargo Capacity: 16 cu. ft./12.3 cu. ft.
  • Maximum Seating: 5/4