Miles Cook
March 31, 2006
The Crane XR-i ignition system (PN 750-1700) module replaces conventional breaker points on just about any Ford V-8 engine with a single-point distributor. The unit uses a Hall-effect sensor to detect the lobes of the distributor points cam. The module itself is shown at right with the adapter plates and all the other included pieces of small hardware needed for installation in an otherwise stock-appearing Ford distributor.

Electronically-triggered distributors are nothing new in the automotive world. So much so that these days we're still surprised at the number of older Mustangs using points and a condenser as a means of getting the spark to an engine's spark plugs.

When it comes to vintage Mustangs, upgrading to an electronic ignition within the confines of a stock-appearing distributor has been an option for enthusiasts for well over a decade. So if you haven't installed a Crane XR-i points-conversion ignition or something similar in a car that's driven on a semi-regular basis, our only question is what are you waiting for?

We can see the reasoning for keeping the older-than-dirt points and condenser in the distributor of a show car that's only driven in and out of an enclosed trailer, but you should put this sort of upgrade on the short list of the first two or three things to do to an otherwise unmodified vintage Mustang.

The Crane XR-i is among the numerous options available to get a distributor out of the stone age. After installing one in a 351W's stock distributor in a little over an hour, we can report it's worth the effort.

Several notable features are contained within this matchbook-sized module, which fits any single-points Ford distributor built between 1957 and 1974. Of course, the biggest advantage with the XR-i is its maintenance-free nature. Other advantages include the unit's urethane seal to protect it from oil, dirt, moisture, vibration, and heat, and its relatively easy installation, both physically and electrically since its two wires simply connect directly to the ignition coil.

Finally, as an added feature for more radical engines, the XR-i's built-in rev-limiter with a 4,000-8,000-rpm range provides a bit of extra engine protection in the event of a missed shift.