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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

The great ignition debate: Points vs. Pertronix | Hagerty Media

It's become a debate for the ages. Ford versus Chevy. Coke versus Pepsi. And now, points versus Pertronix. For nearly 70 years, just about every car had a points-based ignition system. This venerable design was invented by Charles F. Kettering, first appeared on the 1910 Cadillac, and was used on most cars through the mid-1970s.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/ignition-debate-points-vs-pertronix/
12 REPLIES 12
richnj
New Driver

I never thought i would have to go back to points & condenser - after over 30 yrs of using Pertronix - which still worked!! - but my distrib was worn out on a '68 chevy with 250 strait 6. Got a rebuilt Cardone distrib & the Pertronix plastic wheel with magnets fit too loosely over the center distrib shaft!!, rendering the Pertronix useless. Luckily i dont drive the car much anymore & pts/condenser are adequate.
Not sure if this would happen on other sample distributors from cardone or with other distrib rebuilders or even with new distrubutors for this motor, let alone on those for other motors. I confirmed with pertronix tech support that current overseas distrib shafts are not necessarily built to spec - but the adjustability of points can compensate for this, unlike with Pertronix.
Bobalouie
New Driver

Most often if there’s problems it’s because they were not put in correctly.
hyperv6
Racer

Agree as most failures of many parts are do to poor installation.  

 

As for aftermarket parts they can vary based on MFG from any country. Often the lower the price the less in spec the parts may be 

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

The articles title suggested a debate. Read more like a commercial endorsement. 🤔

TG
Gearhead

I have one car that still has points and have never had trouble with it. My '79 boat had one engine with electronic ignition and one engine with points. The points engine was giving me problems, and against my better judgment folks convinced me to replace the distributor with electronic. The problem ended up being a 40 year old leaking intake manifold gasket. I still kick myself for replacing that distributor. There is nothing wrong with points, and when they do go bad they are far easier to diagnose than electronic ignition

hyperv6
Racer

 LT so much an endorsement but a product that sells itself. 

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

Pertronix may be a good system, I don’t know…yet.  But apparently it’s not selling itself enough. 
Maintaining points, especially in something no longer daily’d, isn’t expensive or hard to do. And suspect most of us are pretty willing to be hands-on or we wouldn’t have the car. In my experience he used a pretty rare occurrence of his friend to give a reason to abandon them. 
I’m not FOR or AGAINST,  just thought it was more of an endorsement than debate. 

CitroenFan
New Driver

Points are fine, but many replacements are now of dubious quality. I've never had a problem with Pertronix or 123 ignitions, so now I switch over to electronic by default and forget about it.

 

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

Understand. But replacement  quality probably depends on the vehicle and age. No count, but I think I have at least a couple sets of NOS points and condensers for my 50’s Chevrolet. I think I’ve also hoarded a spare coil and voltage regulator.
But those will probably only last another 40 years at the current rate of wear and failure. 

Rob1
Instructor

 I have used pertronics in the past on I/O boats with great success simple effective and just makes a old motor run smooth that said i picked up a couple years back a mid seventys Starcraft basically a boat house find been in the family since new had seen some use but the ole fella that owned had passed and the family went a different direction with late model bowriders and water craft so it sat for 30 some odd years inside and dry it had a inline GM 6 holer I bought it and set too getting it in order after much cleaning and lube in and lubes changed it fired up ran like a swiss watch.I opted to buy a Pertronics as I just didnt want to deal with points since it was all mail order here twice I was sent a kit that was either incomplete or damaged so head down bought new points/cond/coil/rotor/cap/wires plugs dusted off the cobwebs in my brain and did the tune up set dwell timing and air screws and walah runs like new nothing wrong with points tossed the old set in a small tool box in the boat if I have trouble out on the lake i have backup if a electronic failure get out the paddle.R

exfarmer
New Driver

When false statements are made in describing the technical aspects of a conventional ignition system--points and condenser--then the factual basis of the entire article can be questioned. I agree with ". . .This makes the point gap smaller, which in turn increases the “dwell” . . .", but the next part of the sentence is false. An increase in dwell INCREASES the amount of time that the coil has to charge up before generating the next spark since the dwell angle is the number of degrees of distributor rotation when the points are CLOSED, thereby sending current to the coil for a longer period of time. The spark is generated when the points OPEN--at the end of the dwell period--and an increase in dwell angle also has the undesirable effect of retarding the spark timing. Of course the points and condenser system is an old system, but with well-made components, it can provide reliable service. Unfortunately, both the points and condensers and electronic components these days are not uniformly of good quality, including some of Pertronix parts based on recent reviews. I can never remember having a condenser fail "back in the day", but recently I have been towed twice because a nearly new condenser failed shortly after installation. Ditto (twice) for an electronic ready-to-run distributor in my '64 Pontiac. I am currently back to points and condenser and looking for reliable condensers from various sources.
cadillackid
New Driver

pertronix is a great update from points if you want something easy and driveable.. in my opinion unless you are going for something 100% original looking under the hood then its worth getting the Pertronix II (which solves the Key On Engine Off failures).. go for a 40kv coil, bypass the resistor and enjoy a really great spark.. you now essentially have HEI but still maintain some of that vintage look(you can paint your new coil to match the OEM if you like).. like anything ignition I always keep a spare coil and spare "module" in the car.. with HEI I always kept a spare Echlin module with me .. with pertronix I keep an Ignitor II with me.. it really is easily swappable on the side of the road..