Tech Throwback: Upgrading Ignitions With Performance Distributors

Back in early 2018, we decided to take a strong look at Performance Distributor’s specialty applications. Our coverage included areas where certain automotive applications could be improved, how modern technology could be paired with older architecture, and what new products could reach these markets.

We started by looking at Performance Distributors’ core ignition, the Davis Unified Ignition – or D.U.I. Based on the GM HEI system, “The DUI is a one-piece, one-wire ignition system. The DUI Coil is mounted inside the distributor cap and the Dyna-Module is in the distributor,” Steve Davis told us. Davis is the owner/operator of Performance Distributors.

The Dyna Mod is the brain of the operation, which provides an extra two to three degrees of dwell time on each contact.

Compact And Universal

We went on to explain how the compact D.U.I. unit fits just about anywhere a standard distributor fits and has all of its electronics – the distributor, coil, and control module – integrated into a single unit. This makes the D.U.I. ignition a simple plug-and-play unit with modern technology.

Modern technology comes in the form of the Dyna-Module, which is the brain of the D.U.I. ignition. “The Dyna-Module has two to three degrees of additional dwell time-calibrated into it, compared to stock modules, throughout the RPM range,” Davis added. “The extra dwell time allows whatever coil you run to saturate longer, intensifying the spark that winds up at your spark plugs.”

The vacuum advance curve is machine calibrated on each unit before it goes out, in order to provide the smoothest idle and acceleration possible.

Our coverage went on to explain the modern features of the upgraded distributor cap and D.U.I. coil. Davis explained how these combined to “fire well into high-RPM, while the stock coils are bad about dropping off in the mid-range,” said Davis. The D.U.I. comes with the high-voltage coil built into the distributor cap. This not only makes for a simple one-wire hookup but also a nice compact fitment.

Specific Applications

The article finished by looking at some vintage ignition systems and their weak areas that could be helped with a D.U.I. system. The Buick Nailhead’s breaker points style ignition and the Flathead Ford’s common shortcomings were discussed. For good measure, we also covered the Volkswagen Type 1 Air-Cooled ignition system because the engine was so prolific.

The Buick Nailhead D.U.I. came about after a customer approached Davis at a tradeshow requesting it. He built the one setup and ended up adding it to his catalog.

The Flathead Ford still enjoys a healthy aftermarket. The Performance Distributors D.U.I. offers a significant power increase over the stock points-style ignition.

The VW Type 1 air-cooled engine application is unique, in that the Type 1 engine finds itself in such a wide variety of applications and ranges of performance, that it comes in both street/strip and race versions.

Modern technology has improved the performance of engines exponentially over the decades. Not only is it awesome to see a company applying that modern technology to legacy platforms and increasing their performance, reliability, and drivability, but doing so in a visually-unobtrusive and simple-to-install package such as the Performance Distributors Davis Unified Ignition system. The full article can be viewed by clicking here.

 

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About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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