Electronic Ignition

Hi, I recently purchased a 1971 Cougar XR7 convertible 351C 4 speed (1 of 47) and I am doing some freshening up and need to change out the distributor. I was considering converting to electronic ignition. What are your recommendations? I do not want to spend a ton of $ on it just want a dependable cat. Thanks

Pertronix with your stock Ford distributor.

Stay with stock. If you go with pertronix stick a new set of points and condensor in the glove box. You may need them when you least suspect it. If you change out the whole dist put rebuild and set the stock one up and keep it in the trunk along with what ever you need to support it being swapped to the car. Have had two cars (didn’t learn the first time) were the Pertonix failed be.

Good luck with your choice

I converted my 1968 to Ford’s Dura spark system. I bought a conversion harness from NPD:

A duraspark distributer and ignition control module as well as a ballast resistor. I replaced the coil too because I needed one.

The harness was optional, most guys just snip and reroute wires. All the other parts are stock in other Ford cars and can be purchased at any chain auto parts store.

You can get the dura spark distributor with one of two different kind of gears, cast and hardened. Unless someone changed your cam yours should be cast

Here is a write up on how to do it: http://www.suddenlink.net/pages/jonknapek/fordv8/duraspark.html


I did the Ford dura spark years ago on my daughters 67 A code, it ran very well but it is a little more complicated than the Pertronix. I ran the Pertronix in my 67 A code for several years (did carry extra parts) and never had a problem. Currently running Pertronix in my 71 M code vert. Have had the same set in it for going on seven years. This last winter I converted it to the Holley EFI and it runs just absolutely fantastic! I still have the stock distributor and stock single port vacuum advance.

I have been running a Pertronix in my Cougar (351W) for many years with no issue. I had to source the red wire properly at first but since then it has worked properly.

Prior to that I used a Duraspark distributor controlled by a Chrysler brain box.

Petronix is going to be the easiest and cheapest solution. Works very well and simple to install

If you install the Pertronix you should always run a new 12 volt power wire that is hot during crank and run to the red wire of the Pertronix. Some people take a short cut and hook it to the coil positive post but that only supplies about 6 to 9 volts. If you do that be sure to keep a set of points in the glove box as it is very hard on the Pertronix. If you run full power they last a very long time.

I have to replace the stock distributor and the Duraspark takes 8-12 weeks to get. Considering the Pertronix. What do you think of the MSD ready to run unit?

What is wrong with the distributor you have now? Is the advance difficult to move? They are really not that hard to take apart and clean up and get them working again. Having the correct distributor is an important part of keep a rare car lake yours numbers matching.

Mechanic says issues with shaft, bearings/bushings. I do want to keep it stock looking but would like to upgrade to better technology. I do not want to install an MSD box.

That can be fixed. Whatever you decide make sure you keep the original.


I put a billet RTR from Summit on my 351W last year and it made a significant improvement to how smooth and responsive it runs. It has mechanical and vacuum advance and also allows for a wider plug gap. Super easy 1 wire install, just have to make sure you use the right spec coil.