Stock vs HEI vs MSD performance/cost

Discussion in ''Da Nailhead' started by OlySezHey, Feb 5, 2010.


cost vs performance: Is the upgrade worth it?

  1. keep it stock

    10 vote(s)
  2. HEI

    16 vote(s)
  3. MSD

    20 vote(s)
  1. OlySezHey

    OlySezHey Lord willing...

    I was wondering how much bang for my buck I could get upgrading the ignition on a 401 nailhead. How much does HEI improve performance and does it cost? How much would MSD improve performance and does it cost? Is there already a thread on here I missed?
    Thanx :)
  2. StageTwo

    StageTwo It's a Beauty Too.

    I'm not expert, but would think the stock ignition, timed correctly, is all you'll need for street-driven 401. If you don't like changing the points all the time (especially with the distributor in the back of the engine), then convert the stock points with a magnetic pickup or other aftermarket upgrade.

    I don't think HEI or any aftermarket distributor is going to give you a big seat-of-the-pants return on your dollar.
  3. 71skylark3504v

    71skylark3504v Goin' Fast In Luxury!

    I have yet to wear a set of points out. They are VERY reliable because they are so simple!
  4. DaWildcat

    DaWildcat Platinum Level Contributor

    I'd just leave it stock unless you're going to be adding lots of other go-fast goodies.

  5. 68riviera430

    68riviera430 BRRRRAAAAP!

    Maybe it was just my car, but I had tons of problems with the points all the time.
    Went to electronic conversion kit (pertronix), even worse.
    Just put in an HEI...amazing. Car starts up faster than most new cars, sounds great.
    Just my situation though...
  6. TABuickMike

    TABuickMike Michael Tomaszewski Jr

    Substitute Mallory for MSD then ask the question :TU: Cason has somethin to say about MSD along with hundreds of thousands of other people.
  7. BadBrad

    BadBrad Got 4-speed?

    Keeping it stock means accepting the fact that as points wear the dwell and timing changes to the point that maximum performance is no longer available. The wear (and degrading performance) occurs slowly over time. It's like putting a frog in a pot of water and bringing the water slowly to a boil. Poor Kermit really doesn't notice the incremental changes until things get really bad.

    I fire an MSD system triggered by points that do nothing more than signal the MSD to juice the plugs. They are a simple low power relay that, in this application, will probably never wear out. Once in a while I might put a little lube on the distributer cam. There is no condenser; barely any juice. Where I once pulled the dwell meter and timing light out every few months (or even weeks) to ensure everything was optimum (and the stock system was always falling off) today I never get the tune up equipment out.
  8. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly post whore

    i got a hei but i paid like 80 bucks for it
  9. 66larkgs

    66larkgs paul 66gs turbo nailhead

    i have ran points, and they were very reliable, i ran pertronics and never had a issue, i went to a msd 6btm box and a msd dist because of the turbo setup i am running, i had to have a setup that on the fly i can pull out timing and add timing depending on a boost. The advantage with the msd is a abilty to tune according to your setup, its also nice that if i choose to even run efi i dont have to buy another ignition system.

    turbo nailhead
  10. Fox's Den

    Fox's Den 22 years of racing the same 355 Buick motor

    I have ran all 3 systems, Points, HEI, MSD. You use to be able to buy points that were separate from the condenser. The ones that were on the plate in one piece were junk. There was a time when you could get a performance set of points, those worked good. Those had a separate point block and a separate condenser. Wait until the condenser fails and you can't figure that out.

    When I switched to an HEI system this solved all the little things that came up with points like always having to adjust the dwell to keep the ignition at optinum working range. Remember, when the dwell changes the timing changes. Plus the points would start to pit and this would change things also, what a hassle. With the HEI the engine would start within a 1/2 turn of the engine. The coil was on top of the HEI and all you needed to hook it up was a straight 12 volt wire to it. The only problem I had heard with a HEI was that they would advance too far so you did have to work on this part to keep the total advance down. You could run a plug with a larger gap also.

    When I rebuilt the engine I bought an MSD distributor and the 6-AL box. With this you could change the total advance on this with interchangeable advance stop bushings. I chose to get one without the vacuum advance since I use a higher stall convertor and have a high rear gear and also I have all the advance in by 2200 rpm. You may want one With a vacuum advance for your motor. I bought my MSD back in 1994 and the only trouble I had with it was the coil went out on it. The MSD may have been made better back then so that might be why I am having no trouble with it.

    Today Mallory might be the best way to go. Every one will tell you that their system is the best and is the best way to go but there was a reason that points were eliminated back in 1974. Electronic ignition just works better and there is more voltage to the plug as compared to points systems. With points you must rely on the points to stay closed long enough to get the coil saturated with enough electric to fire the plug. Electronic systems don't need this they fire at 40,000 volts every time. Electronic systems will work year after year without even looking at it. You wont be doing this with a points system. Any kind of system that eliminates the points is the way to go and I really can't see why there is any argument against this. It's Pointless.
  11. 71skylark3504v

    71skylark3504v Goin' Fast In Luxury!

    I got a damn good argument against all MSD products. To sum it up, it's all cheap crap!

    I've had two separate breakdowns because of MSD products. First because of MSD's distributor rotor came loose while the engine was running and caused the distributor to lock up and eject the motor.:af::af::af:

    Second. MSD 6A box all of the sudden crapped out. UNEXCUSEABLE!! Had to convert back to points in a college dorm parking garage.:af:

    Until you've have an experience like this I can fully understand why you like electronic ignition, but it's not a question of IF it will happen, it's WHEN.:TU:
  12. DaWildcat

    DaWildcat Platinum Level Contributor

    I'm also in the "they must not make them like they used to" crowd regarding MSD. My 6-AL box and coil will turn 18 in June. :beer

  13. Fox's Den

    Fox's Den 22 years of racing the same 355 Buick motor

    Whew! I said Mallory is probably they way to go. It isn't my fault the rotor wasn't tight enough. :grin:
  14. Jim Weise

    Jim Weise 1000+HP


    Yup, your correct.. I wish I would not have let go of my mid-90's vintage 6AL here a while back.

    Had many failures of the new boxes on customer cars.. very frustrating.

    Switched to Mallory 6 series and no more issues.

  15. DaWildcat

    DaWildcat Platinum Level Contributor

    Based on what I've read in the last few years, I'll likely make the same move when it's necessary.

    My MSD 6AL was a wedding present from my car buds and outlasted that marriage.

  16. hudrod

    hudrod Well-Known Member

    My fenderless and hoodless roadster has been ran about four years and over 30000 miles with MSD.Doesnt matter what kind of wheather is.And few times ive been ran with in the middle of winter.Works everytime and everywhere.
    Haha,car looks really stupid with those winter spike tires and mopar wheels :laugh:

    Attached Files:

  17. doc

    doc Well-Known Member

    I think the question was about performance gain.... probably none if your point system was in good shape.... reliability is a whole nother thing.... get rid of the points.....Fox is right on.... electronic is more reliable than the old points system...also listen to JW.....about which brand to buy....dont buy anything that has a history of unreliability.....
  18. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    :gp: What Doc said. Although at almost three years, I have had absolutely no trouble with my MSD setup. The only reason that I bought the MSD setup was that the cam and distributor gears on my 425 were trashed. MSD was available, and I had the setup the next day from my local speed shop.
  19. greenmachine20

    greenmachine20 4 door wh0re

    i guess i should be happy i kept my old 6al when i junked my old ford..... good info on here
  20. 66larkgs

    66larkgs paul 66gs turbo nailhead

    i have never had a issue with any msd product i have had. maybe just good luck. dont know.
    turbo nailhead

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