Piston Slap: Where have all the high quality points gone?

AC Delco

Stewart writes:

Where can I get points for a good ol’ fashion distributor that aren’t crap?

Sajeev answers:

I just love it when we great straight to the heart of the matter! And very few topics do this quite as fast as aftermarket parts made of hot garbage.

But this isn’t necessarily about the components’ place of birth, as we have all been burned by cheap parts from multiple countries of origin. And we’ve all bought good stuff from the same country that sold us the crap, right? No matter, the fact remains that ignition points of acceptable quality are difficult to find.

Even Pertronix, the knee-jerk aftermarket upgrade in this regard, has mixed reviews on some corners of the Internet. So if you want to stick with points, you might find there is no magic bullet. My advice is to acquire a new-old stock set of points from a vendor like Partsamerican. If they don’t have a NOS part for your application available, message or call them for alternatives. Also contact multiple vendors of used and NOS parts for your particular make or model: someone out there still has NOS points for your vehicle sitting on a shelf, somewhere.

GM Performance

If not, this might be a good time to bite the bullet and do one of the aforementioned conversions. If you can convert your vehicle to a GM HEI setup, that would be my first choice; HEI parts from quality vendors are easily available and affordable. It’s a tough pill to swallow for a Ford fanatic like myself, but I’d even do it to a small-block Ford V-8.

Well, certain small-block Ford V-8s, but the fact remains that if you can’t buy a quality set of points, either keep spares in your glovebox or upgrade to a more modern setup. What say you, Hagerty Community?

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, give us as much detail as possible so we can help! Keep in mind this is a weekly column, so if you need an expedited answer, please say so in your email.

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    Sajeev has pretty much nailed the sad facts: NOS is the best bet. I have not found one single supplier of new parts that has consistently reliable-quality points. My one last points engine (283 Chevy with a ’60s Delco-Remy Corvette dual-point distributer) has one more set of OEMs in boxes on the shelf, but when those are gone, they are gone. I’ll probably be faced with changing to an HEI system and relegating the dual-point sparker to a wall-hanger display piece. Not a bash on the newer systems, just sad to see what was once “state-of-the-art” get totally phased out.
    However, since one day, I’ll be obsolete and phased out also, it won’t matter, now will it?! 🙄

    Luckily for your SBC, an HEI conversion looks right at home because its all GM parts…and everyone knows why you had to make the switch. 🙂

    Yeah, but I’m an old-fashioned geezer, and even though everyone will understand, my sensitivities will be injured when that dual-point isn’t back there behind that carb. I’ve run that thing in probably 15 cars in the last 55 years or so! Darned near sold it twice, but just couldn’t part with it. My car will likely run better, but I’ll be sad to see it go! 😥

    I understand nostalgia but thinking back to my sore back playing with feelers… Back in the day I couldn’t wait until they were gone and now, I’m glad they passed.

    I don’t have too many running points these days (my ’74 Vette is the last one), but I have never changed a set of points. Hit them with a little sandpaper every now and then, but never replace. It’s not like I’m putting 20,000 miles a year on these cars

    Another option is to use the Ford TFI (Thin Film Igntion) module, triggered off your points distributor. The TFI unit can be hidden under the dash for a stock engine appearance, and with the points only triggering the TFI and not carrying all of the ignition load, they should last a lot longer.

    standard/blue streak are the only company that make quality points anymore. Ive been working with vintage cars for 30+ yrs professionally and have contributed to “redline rebuild” in the past.

    I’ve seen more problems with condensers rather than points. Bad “new” condensers will burn up the points pretty fast. Save your old condensers for sure.
    There are some better alternative ignition modules than a TFI or an HEI that you can remote mount if you do some research.

    Back in my misspent “yout”, before knowing that different parts could be analyzed and tested, condensers and points were replaced out of hand, just as much as preventative as if they were actually faulty. Sometimes you could buy a “tune-up kit” that had them, along with plugs, cap and rotor all in a box. It was easy to flip such a cheap part into the trash bin when replacing. When purchasing “grab bags” at swap meets, I found that some people actually saved them instead of tossing. In my later years, I started putting such items into a coffee can instead of the garbage can. It’s paid off more than once to have a small hoard of stuff that wasn’t bad in the first place – just got replaced with new because it was the thing to do.

    The market value of points, condensers, and any old school distributor has dropped to the point that a good useable core distributor for my Sprite at the swap meet is $15-20. I just bought a points and condenser set for about $3 dollars. At those prices just buy up 2 or 3 distributors build them up and keep a spare on hand with a 1/2” end wrench and you can run till the cows come home. Some people get a charge out of being the fastest, the rugged-est, or the smoothest, my joy comes from driving the cheapest, and old British iron can knock it out of the park in this regard, just keep it dead stock.
    Just think points and condenser for $3 about the cost of a mediocre cup of coffee. I had to buy a couple manifold nuts for a Toyota pickup last week and was told they were $8 each!!
    Just budget a bit more for grease and oil!

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