Most of the used components hobbyists select for their vintage Pontiacs typically require at least a slight amount of refurbishing in order to provide reliable operation-and the ignition distributor is no exception.
The HEI was designed to require very little maintenance, and we learned-in the HPP July '07 issue-the factors that largely determine if a used unit is reusable, and how to prepare it for miles of trouble-free operation. There are, however, others who would rather purchase a new HEI, and if the latter describes you, then you'll find our one-stop buyer's guide highly beneficial.
We requested product details from several aftermarket HEI manufacturers that offer units that appear, install, and function just like an original. While properly calibrating the centrifugal and vacuum advance curves for maximum performance may be required in some instances, any of the featured units could be considered affordable alternatives to a used HEI when reliable performance is a concern.
Summit Racing Blueprinted HEI
Mail-order giant Summit Racing Equipment offers its own line of blueprinted HEI distributors for myriad GM applications. The Pontiac unit (PN SUM-850007) combines a black cap with brass terminals and a black plastic dust cover that encapsulates the 50,000-volt coil. A new cast-aluminum housing featuring a natural finish contains new bushings, mainshaft assembly, and a hardened steel gear.
Summit's HEI includes the company's high-output module, centrifugal advance components, and adjustable vacuum advance canister. According to Summit, each unit is "fully 'blueprinted' and 'phased' on a Synchrograph Distributor Dyno to ensure accurate timing, and dynamically tested to 7,500 rpm," while retailing for $150.
Summit Racing Equipment
1200 SE Ave.
Tallmadge, OH 44278
Performance Distributors D.U.I. HEI
Performance Distributors in Memphis, Tennessee, has long been recognized as an ignition system leader. The company has been calibrating HEIs since 1977, and it continues to offer a complete line of Davis Unified Ignitions (D.U.I.) for countless applications.
It produces custom-tuned HEI distributors for two distinct Pontiac applications. No. 51720 fits all traditional Pontiac V-8 applications (287ci to 455), and No. 55720 is for those with Super-Duty 455s (and R/A-V derivatives). Though equipped with a standard-sized driven gear, the latter unit has the proper diameter sleeve pressed on the housing for installation.
The company starts with a high-quality remanufactured HEI, hand assembles the unit to exact tolerances, and then adds its own "Dyna-module"-an electronic module claimed to increase dwell, allowing greater saturation of the company's 50,000-volt coil. A brass-terminal cap is available in a number of colors.
Unlike others, Performance Distributors requests specific inform-ation about your combination and then uses its custom-made, OEM-quality components to tailor the distributor's centrifugal and vacuum advance curves to achieve maximum performance from your application. D.U.I. No. 51270 for Pontiac V-8s retails for $305, as does PN 55270, and is available directly from the manufacturer.
2699 Barris Dr.
Memphis, TN 38132
Pertronix Flame Thrower HEI
Pertronix Performance Products is a name hobbyists quickly associate with electronic ignition components. The company's complete line of high-performance GM HEI distributors includes new cast-aluminum housings with bronze bushings and new mainshaft assemblies. Each distributor features Pertronix's exclusive Flame Thrower module and coil, which is said to operate without misfire through at least 7,500 rpm, as well as the company's centrifugal advance components and adjustable vacuum advance canister.
Carrying a limited one-year warranty, Pertronix HEIs include a cap in your choice of three colors. Part numbers for Street/Strip Pontiac applications are D1200 (black), D1201 (red), and D1202 (blue). They are available for roughly $229 each from your favorite mail-order supplier or nearest Pertronix distributor.
Pertronix Performance Products, Inc.
440 E. Arrow Hwy
San Dimas, CA 91773
Proform Street/Strip HEI
Not to be confused with a competitor whose name shares similar likeness, Proform is best known for its line of automotive tools designed to complete various tasks, and myriad components for a number of vehicles, but the company's line of Street/Strip HEI distributors is among the best value it offers to hobbyists. In addition to a new cast aluminum housing, bronze bushings, and mainshaft assembly, Proform's HEIs contain quality electronics that include a 50,000-volt coil and high intensity module, and a red cap with brass terminals.
The centrifugal advance consists of OEM-quality weights and center plate providing 22 to 24 degrees by 3,200 rpm, and an adjustable vacuum advance canister preset to 15 degrees. Available from your nearest Proform distributor or mail-order supplier, Pontiac V-8 HEI (No. 66953) retails for $190.
Proform/Specialty Auto Parts, Inc.
P.O. Box 306
Roseville, MI 48066
Past testing indicates that OEM-type weights and center plates, like those included with t
As the lower bushing of the housing wears, it oftentimes scores the mainshaft, ultimately
Adjusting the vacuum advance canister on some HEI's is as easy as inserting a hex-wrench i