Corvair Electronic Ignition installation.

I get enough questions about installing electronic ignition (on Corvairs, classic Chevys, and other makes) to add a page on the subject. Also, see Ray Sedman's excellent Electronic Ignitions 101. One big advantage of any system that replaces the points with a non-mechanical switch is distributor wear is minimized. Further, without any stress on the distributor shaft, as long as there isn't too much wear to start with these systems usually offer much more stable timing.

Crane (was Allison) XR700 Electronic Ignition Install.

Rick Stansbury posted to the FastVair list in reply to "What wire goes where?":

The red wire goes to the + (pos) side of the coil, yellow goes to the - (neg) side of the coil, black goes to ground and the grey wire has three wires inside that go to the photo optics inside the distributor. You will need the plug for the gray wires because the photo optic unit is sealed, so you can't see where they go. Warning: be sure you have a good ground before putting power to it. The Crane units don't like no ground.

Rick Stansbury

If you need further info, check the Crane website, they purchased Allison and still support this unit.

Pertronix Ignitor.

First, understand that the Ignitor isn't really an electronic ignition, it's simply a non-wearing replacement for points. You won't really see much change to your engine - except for the fact that you'll no longer have points wearing and causing dwell and timing changes. If you had trouble getting good dwell because of some wear, this may improve the performance. Also, realize that all the electronics are inside the little unit that goes in the distributor. This can lead to overheating the unit on an engine that runs at full throttle for extended periods (like, say, a road race engine). For street and autocross use, they are ideal because of the simple installation.

Installation is fairly simple, you'll need to file a notch in the distributor cap for the wires, but otherwise this is a bolt in operation. One thing that causes confusion is the stock coil expects voltage that's been reduced, but the Ignitor is looking for a full twelve volts.

The reason for the confusion is that a Corvair is unusual in that instead of a ballast resistor there is a resistor wire embedded in the harness. On other installations, either the coil runs at twelve volts, or there is a separate physical ballast resistor which is available as a place to tap into twelve volts for the Ignitor. On the Corvair you can hook this up one of two ways:

In either case the Ignitor's black lead goes to the negative post of the coil.

Mopar Pickup + Electronic Ignition Box.

Converting a distributor to a Mopar electronic ignition reluctor (the "star" wheel) and pickup is an almost bolt on operation, and it can then drive your choice of Mopar, GM HEI, or MSD ignition boxes. Below are a couple of posts on how to do it. One added note from Jack Frost - you can machine the inside of the reluctor so it fits over the stock Corvair point cam if you prefer.

Seth Emerson writes:

You can go down to your local FLAPS and pick up a replacement reluctor and pickup for a late 70s Chrysler 6-cylinder (225" slant six). Grind down the Corvair distributor cam (not by hand - on a precision grinder) to make a press fit for the reluctor (with loctite). I removed the rotating point plate and mounted the pick-up down to the lower plate, running the wires out the stock location. Open the slot up to keep from cracking the cap.

I did at least a dozen of these for Corvair racers in the 1980s. Supposedly you can mount the pick-up on the pivoting plate. A kit was offered to do that. I was eliminating the vacuum advance anyway. The two wires from the mag pulse plugged into a Chrysler box or into an MSD 6A or 6AL. That (The MSD-6) is the exact set-up I had in the Lola when I sold it. Buy the best brass terminal cap you can find. The Standard DR-438X Blue Streak Cap is a good one.

- Seth Emerson


John Roberts writes:

Mid 70s Mopar mag pickup and reluctor. Machine down the cam lobes so the Mopar reluctor is a snug fit. Redrill breaker plate to mount Mopar mag pickup. Put reluctor on shaft, put rotor on shaft, and align points on reluctor so it's pointing to the mag pickup when the rotor is pointing to one of the spark plug towers. Secure reluctor with epoxy. Gap reluctor to 0.012 inches, as per Mopar specs.

Connect mag pickup to HEI module (4 pin AC DELCO D1906). Connect HEI module to HEI coil from a car where the coil isn't in the cap. Follow factory wiring:

Mount HEI module to something that can act as a heat sink. I've mounted them to the underside of the distributor base, directly across from the hold down clamp to avoid interference.

Set this up on a bench with a 12v battery. The polarity of the pickup matters! Make sure the thing sparks when the reluctor is moving AWAY from the magnetic pickup. Get rid of or bypass the ballast resistor wire, install, and away you go!

Absolutely eliminated high boost misfires on my turbo Corvairs.


For further reference, see this article detailing an HEI conversion on, including this handy wiring diagram.



As on other pages, some collected Corvair ignition notes:


For more information on the above electronic ignition systems, see the following sites:

If you are trying to trobleshoot an old Delta Mark Ten unit, you can find a copy of the installation instructions here.