Ignition Recommendation Needed - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Ignition Recommendation Needed

I have a 1968 GTO with a 400cid and 4 speed that is basically stock, including the points/condenser/coil ignition system. It's a driver, mostly used to tool around town and go to the golf club but thanks to a recent Hegarty article I got to thinking about reliability, specifically the ignition system. I'm considering switching over to an electronic ignition system of some sort, not to improve performance (I am an old guy and I drive her like one) but for the increased reliability of a breakerless sytem. I'm confused about which approach to take. There are kits out there for about $150 that would convert my breaker system to breakerless using the stock distributor. That would seem to achieve my objective, but there are also full distributor replacements with all sorts of technology built into them for about twice that much. Given that my desire is improved reliability and not improved performance, if cost is not part of the equation which is the simplest, easiest route to take? What would you do, or what have you done? All recommendations, including brand names are welcome! Thanks!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 09:50 PM
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Any ignition system can fail at any time. But, if cost is not a factor, I'd switch to to a DUI brand, self contained HEI, with vac advance.


But, if you wanna keep the stock look, you can go with a Pertronics Ignitor 3 elec conversion for your points dist. There have been some failures, but they get mostly good reviews.


If you go with the HEI, you'll have to eliminate the resister wire, required for the points type system. The HEI requires a full 12 volts, without a resistor.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-08-2017, 08:26 AM
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[QUOTE=Wilma;786401] ...but for the increased reliability of a breakerless sy(s)tem... /QUOTE]

Consider this. Breakerless systems are NOT more reliable. When they fail, they fail without warning, completely, and you're just dead in the water stranded. The dead-nuts simplicity of the original points system is such that there's very little that can go wrong with one that will strand you like that. I guess a set of points can physically come apart, or a condenser can short out (in which case you can still just disconnect it and limp the car home), or a coil can fail (but that can happen with an electronic system too).

Also consider that on a street engine that spends 99% of its life somewhere below 5000 rpm, tests have shown that there is no advantage to having an electronic ignition system in terms of power, performance, or economy over the factory points system.

True, points systems are going to need a little more attention to maintain them in top condition, but that's something you can plan for and carry out on your own terms and on your own timetable ---- not having to sit stranded on the side of the road.

Just a thought...


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-08-2017, 10:25 AM
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I converted my GTO back to the original dist. and I have a Mallory dist, coil, wires etc. FS if you want to go that route.
Points will last 15K miles and I carry a spare set along with a condenser.
If they take a powder you just install the new set, top of the lobe then 1 turn when the points crack open and you are back on the road.
With electronic you have to replace the resistor wire or use a relay.
When I bought my new harness I pulled all of that stuff and went back to original.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-08-2017, 11:38 AM
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All my race & street cars had points, back in the old days. They worked just fine. For racing, I used a big Accel Super coil, which I probably didn't need. And I used the Accel points with the stronger spring, which I also probably didn't need either, since we never went past 6000 rpm.

I only got one bad set of Accel points. They looked perfect in every way. I tried 'em in several different dist. No fire at all. I had others look at 'em. Nobody ever saw anything wrong with 'em. But they just would not fire. Til this day, I have absolutely no idea what was wrong with 'em. I kept that set for a long time, just because.

I also discovered that it was a waste of $$ to change out the condenser, every time I changed points. After I quit changing condensers, I never had or saw one single condenser failure.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-08-2017, 02:52 PM
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been quite a while, but have used several of the original Pertronix conversions, had no problems with one crapping out, but all were in Pontiacs I ended up selling. In one case, i converted the car back to rebuilt factory hood tach which needed the lower voltage signal & i sold off the pertronix conversion installed in a correct '69 GTO distrib which I installed in a locals '69 GTO. For my own needs, have just found it easier to stick with points on my own early 70 model keepers, have a selection of nos GM points & condensers. Picked up several Mallory 102X point sets out of an old parts stock that came out of a Green Light store, hard to beat the 102X's, but totally a waste in a putt-a-round engine that never sees 5500rpm.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-08-2017, 06:50 PM
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Another vote to leave it alone. Points will last about 15,000 miles between changes. A simple and pleasant task to perform when doing the 15k tune up these engines require anyway. I've run stock points in all my old cars for decades and 100's of thousands of miles without failure. When I was working in the auto industry as an engine/tune up guy, I had many vehicles come in on a hook that had electronic ignition failure: bad pick-up coils, modules, etc. I had maybe 3 total points cars that came in with points failure: two had the original points at about 60,000 miles and simply wore the rubbing block off, and one had the resistor wire removed and fried the points with charging system voltage (it was a '67 AMC Ambassador and the year was 1985) The reason I remember is because it was such a rare occurrence. I run the original 250,000 mile points distributor in my '67 GTO and drive the car all over the place---1000 mile weekends in the summer are not uncommon. Never a hiccup. Been driving this particular car for 34 years now.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-09-2017, 07:15 PM
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My points distributor was long gone when I bought my GTO. Assuming I came across a distributor in really good shape, my question would be where would I find decent points and condensers for it? My brother (Chevelle guy) likes to use original distributors w/ points but has never had a contemporary set of points go 15K miles, more like 3-5000 miles on this chinese junk from the local parts store. Also, who manufactures a decent advance weights/springs kit to modify the advance curve? My brother continues to struggle finding quality parts for his Chevelle distributors; consequently for now I will continue to use my MSD rtr distributor with the spare ignition module in my tool box. Brother says finding OEM Delco points and condensers are like finding a winning PowerBall ticket. Any thoughts on this?? Thanks!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-10-2017, 07:29 PM
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I have a 69 GTO and put in the Pertronics electronic system into my original distributor along with a flame thrower coil. It was the original version that didn't have all the additional bells and whistles you can add now with the newer models. That was at least 8 years ago and it is still in there working fine. It cost under $150 for both parts and took about a half hour to put both in just following the directions. I would not go back to points since I have done this but if for some reason you wanted to switch it back to points you could just take out the Pertronics parts and put the points back in the distributer. I think it is more reliable than the points and I don't miss adjusting/changing the points at all. Also, I know you said you didn't care about the performance but I found that the engine revs quicker, smoother , and higher than the points ever did. The only thing to watch for is leaving the key in the "on" position without the engine running. You can overheat the system that way. I never had it happen but did leave the key on once and then touched that area and it was very hot but still worked fine.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 02:51 PM
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The only ignition failures I've had have always been with aftermarket ignitions. In fact, with my points ignition in my '67, I recently had an Accel coil fail. I replaced it with AC Delco.

I guess you know my vote... Leave it stock.

When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
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