Ignition Upgrade (Pertronix)

So, with the headers on, we knew the carb was possibly in need of adjustment but before we wanted to do that, we thought it made sense to tackle the ignition problem.  The carb seemed to be running rich, and there was a bit of a flat spot on acceleration at times, so better to get a hotter spark and then see how things were running.  It was a tough decision between: 1) Pertronix Ignitor/Ignitor II 2) Ford’s Duraspark 3) Davis United Ignition (D.U.I.).  The DUI, according to dyno tests I could find, nets the most horsepower but is the most expensive (with distributor and coil one piece system plus their wires, I was looking at close to $600).  Duraspark is cheaper and is the the electronic ignition Ford developed in the 1970s, but it is a bit of a mess to wire in and still not cheap at around half the DUI cost (unless I had time to devote to a wrecking yard search–and we didn’t).  The Pertronix, according to Classic Inlines, netted the least amount of extra horsepower but . . . that was on an older carb and distributor set up, with the “spark control valve”–a system that is clearly outdated and, well, doesn’t advance well enough to take full advantage of the Pertronix system.  We have a 200 with a later Autolite 1100 carburetor and a distributor with some mechanical advance.  Also, the total Pertronix package was going to run about $150, including shipping, and look completely stock (because the magnetic module fits right under the distributor cap).  For us, that was an important consideration.  What Micah and I are going for on this Comet is basically a late ’60s or early 70s restomod approach–how would this car look if rodded “back in the day.”  That made the Pertronix the natural choice.  So, we ordered the Pertronix module, coil, and plug wires:

Pertronix Ignition Set Up

We went with the ignitor rather than ignitor II for two reasons:  cost (the ignitor II is $30 more plus a $30 relay) and we just won’t be operating at high rmps that often (when the Ignitor II shows its advantage over the ignitor).  Plus, I had already installed an Ignitor in the 1972 Beetle years ago and it has run well ever since.  Why not stay with the tried and true?  Here is what we started with:


You can see the worn wires and the old (original) coil.  Here’s Micah reconnecting the ground to the battery and our finished look:

Reconnecting Battery


You can see the new wires and boots as well as the new coil.  It looks cleaner and nicer and yet stock.  So, how’d it work?  Well, it started up so quickly, Micah said, “it starts faster than the Subaru!”  The Subaru is mom’s 2014 Forester.  It definitely started faster and idled much more smoothly.  The improvement was immediately noticeable.  We drove it to Hornbacher’s for a grocery run and the hesitation was gone.  We didn’t regap the spark plugs, though I could add .005″ to it if we wished, and we haven’t tuned the carb yet but with how it’s running right now, it’s clear those would be a matter of fine tuning at this point.  The test drive did remind us that we have front end and brake work to do but one step at a time.  Up next is likely the headliner, so we can get rid of what’s left of the mouse nest smell.  Then, we will get into the brakes and suspension.