Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
November 4, 2010

Time is money, as the saying goes, but more importantly, time doesn't stand still. Not for you and certainly not for me. It seems like as the days go by, we all try to pack more into our day than we can humanly handle. Some of this is work related, but even in our personal lives, we find ourselves always running from one errand to the next and having little time to relax. So when it comes to the weekend and those precious two days off (and some of us only have one day off), do you really want to spend it maintaining your rides?

Sure, we all want to bolt on those shiny new gauges or that sweet set of wheels you've been saving up for, but I'm talking about the mundane chores like changing the oil, tune-ups, and that sort of thing. Well, if you agree, then you should consider looking into ditching your points-based ignition and stock coil and wires for a complete ignition upgrade like this one from Pertronix. It'll keep you out of your garage, and give you more time to do the things you really want to do, like driving your classic Ford.

We've all read about the Pertronix Ignitor over the years, and we've been big fans of them for over a decade. Pertronix has been around for a long time, and is a leader in ignition points conversion kits. The company has expanded its product line to include ignition coils, performance plug wires, and even drop-in billet distributors (great for those crate engines we're all buying).

We've had a Pertronix Ignitor II in our '66 Mustang for the last eight years and it has run Singer sewing machine perfect. But there's always room for improvement. We've been running our Ignitor II with a stock set of reproduction plug wires and a reproduction yellow-top coil as well-all in the name of keeping the underhood real estate looking showroom fresh. Well, once we heard about Pertronix's new Ignitor III module, we knew it was time for an upgrade.

The Ignitor III, for lack of a better description, is like an aftermarket ignition box right underneath your distributor cap. The Ignitor III features a multi-strike output through the entire rpm range, more spark energy than points or even other under-cap systems, and most importantly of all, a built-in rev limiter.

Now you can improve your classic Ford's ignition performance while protecting your engine, all while keeping the underhood looking stock (or at least near stock). We opted to partner our Ignitor III with a new Flame Thrower III 45K volt coil and a fresh set of Pertronix's black 7mm stock-look plug wires to round out our upgrade.

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On The Dyno
We strapped our '66 Mustang down to our new Dynojet dyno that resides in our Tampa tech center and let it rip. Our baseline run gave us a peak power figure of 162.41 hp at 4,900 rpm and peak torque came in at 190.13 at 4,200 rpm. Once we installed the gaggle of Pertronix gear and warmed the engine to the same test temperatures as the baseline, we came away with 155.82 hp at 5,000 rpm and 177.52 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. That's a loss of 6.59 hp and 12.61 lb-ft of torque. We were a little confused why we would lose power and torque over the Ignitor II, which is a similar product, until we spoke to one of Pertronix's engineers.

While we were trying to perform an apple-to-apple test by not touching the timing of the engine, we were in fact reducing the ignition timing due to the way the Ignitor III works. The Ignitor II uses a magnetic wheel adapter over the distributor shaft, whereas the Ignitor III reads firing position directly off of the distributor shaft's lobes. It's the difference in the way it reads the distributor's position that lowered our timing. If we had actually put a timing light on the engine and verified timing and adjusted it to match our baseline test, we were assured that our numbers would have at the least matched the old Ignitor II if not surpassed it.

Another area of concern for the Pertronix folks was the fact that we were powering our Ignitor III through the stock resistance wire. While we did this for the original Ignitor II as well (not wanting to cut into our perfectly good dash wiring to bypass the resistor wire), we were told by Pertronix that because of the power demands, the Ignitor III really needs to see full battery voltage. As such, Pertronix has developed a power relay kit that easily wires up under the hood between the Ignitor power input and your battery to give it full voltage. We've got one coming and hope to report back on what the relay and more timing will do for our upgrade.