A model for studying polar-pi interactions between arenes spaced at van der Waals distances is developed on the basis of peri-diarylbiphenylenes. A set of 1,8-diarylbiphenylenes is synthesized comprising two Hammett series, one with reference to mesityl ring interactions and the other with reference to pentafluorophenyl ring interactions. X-Ray crystal structures of several derivatives are determined. Barriers to rotation of the probe aryl ring are derived from dynamic NMR data and show a trend for the mesityl reference series (DeltaG(not equal) vs. sigma(0)). The model is also used as a test for comparison of modern density functional methods, including B3LYP, M06-2X and BMK functionals; dispersive effects are seen to be an important factor in the proper theoretical treatment of arene interactions.