We get to see some pretty cool builds both in our shop and through our readers. Quite often, the builds are much more than Detroit factored in when the cars came off the line some 40-odd years ago, and just about everything has been upgraded: wheels, brakes, engine, ignition, etc. But then there’s the crowd that wants to keep things simple, without all of the high performance parts promoting the musclecar look when the owner wants to maintain the factory look.
Take for instance, the 1966 Mustang that we came across at a friend’s shop. He told us, “The owner wants to keep this engine looking stock, but we need to upgrade the ignition. I hate messing with points.” “Not a problem,” we told him. “Pertronix has the perfect solution for you,” and he was all for it. The engine was built to stock specs, and he was getting ready to put it in the car that day, so we reached out to Pertronix for a distributor, coil, and spark plug wires to keep the ignition looking factory, but far superior to the old points-style setup.
The small-block Ford Flame-Thrower distributor is a “Stock Look” casting that mimics the original distributor on the outside, right down to the vacuum advance. But pop off the distributor cap and inside you won’t miss the old points that have been giving people headaches for decades. The points, most people will tell you, were always out of adjustment – even right after you had just made an adjustment.
Don Lindfors, at Pertronix, told us, “We offer the distributor with the Ignitor III module installed, as well as the original Ignitor module.” For those who opt for the original and want to upgrade to the Ignitor III, Lindfors tells us that an upgrade only takes about 10 minuted to do, and with this upgrade a rev limiter is added to the package.
Pertronix builds these distributors to the same specs as the original Ford distributor, and they install custom springs to provide a good, general performance curve. Lindfors said, “The mechanical advance starts to come in at approximately 1,500 RPM and is all in at 24 degrees by the time you hit about 3,200 RPM.” But he also tells us that if a customer wanted to change that, a curve kit is also available and swapping lighter or heavier springs can bring that total advance in quicker or slower, based on the preference and the build.
The vacuum advance can also be adjusted to provide between zero and 20 crank degrees of advance. “It will start at about five inches of mercury (hg) and all in at 19 inches. The vacuum advance locks out by increasing the adjustment to the point that it would take more vacuum to activate than the motor is going to produce,” Lindfors said.
The Ignitor module is far hotter than a brand new points set, by a minimum of double the voltage, according to Lindfors, and unlike points the Ignitor likes to see a full 12 volts in both cranking and running, so any need for a ballast resistor is eliminated with the Pertronix conversion.
“Points will begin to deteriorate from the first time they fire,” says Lindfors. “Because the break in the current is much faster and cleaner than points, the fall time is faster, which increases the coil output.” The Ignitor is also much more stable than points – especially as the RPM increases.
The Ignitor can also be used to trigger most aftermarket CD ignition boxes, so the limitations of a points-style distributor are also eliminated with the Ignitor. But keeping the stock look and having a better ignition system is the benefit to the stock look distributor.
Lindfors said, “The coils are designed with the proper internal resistance for each type of module and offer increased output capability, up to 45,000 volts in some cases. The Flame Thrower wires are low resistance, silicone jacketed wires with dual current paths that offer greater reliability and redundancy for the current flowing to the spark plugs.”
This is a combination that allows people, like the owner of this classic Mustang, the option to improve the entire ignition system without giving any of it away. The fact that they carry a lifetime warranty steps up that game for a win-win situation: stock looks and great performance. You can find out more about the line of ignition systems, coils, spark plug wires, and stock look distributors, as well as exhaust and other products. Visit the Pertronix website for more information, and keep up with Pertronix projects and builds through its Facebook page.