'57 Pertronix

Has anyone pulled the points and installed a Pertronix Ignitor in the Y-block 312?

Any tips or gotchas?

Several years ago I put a module on both my 57 T-Bird 312 and my 66 Mustang 289. Very simple to do. I bypassed the ballast resistor on the 57 but left the resistor wire in the 66. Kept my stock coils. Very easy job. Both engines ran better. Timing stayed the same, had to reduce the idle setting.

Only one point of caution. The instructions for the modules say to use resistor (NOT solid core ) spark plug wires. This is a must, the magnetic field from the solid core wires will damage the module. I spoke directly with their tech support person to verify that the resistor wires were absolutely necessary and he assured me they were.

Hope this helps,
You mean the one mounted on the fender?
Sorry... my PC locked up as I was replying, I'm surprised it posted. I was asking for clarification on where the spark box was on my '57. The image has an arrow pointing right to what I believe is the spark box.
The is no spark box originally supplied on a 57 , or earlier T-Bird. I believe a spark box is a part of some after market ignition systems as mentioned in the above post. All of the Pertronix systems I have seen just have the small module that fits inside of the distributor.
Make sure you get a solid 12 volts to the Petronix. The Positive lead on the coil will not work.
I installed this system on my 73 mustang and figured out a incorrectly professionally installed system on my 1966 Thunderbird.
To keep things clear, easy and reversible I use a relay for the 12v to the petronix. It keeps everything under the hood and I don't need to do any work under the dash.
Has anyone pulled the points and installed a Pertronix Ignitor in the Y-block 312?

Any tips or gotchas?


Just bought a Pertrnoix I ignitor and flame thrower coil for my 56. The instructions are clear enough until you see the note about Fords. My 56 has a coil resistor mounted next to the coil. Pertroinx Support says there is no "resistor wire" but a ceramic ballast resistor mounted on the fire wall. Checked no ballast resistor. So what to I do with the coil resistor ?
With points soon to replaced , was told I need the full 12 volts for the Ignitor.
Phil in Tenn
I converted my 312 Y-block and 289 Mustang to a Pertronics 11 over 15 years ago. Simple plug and play, follow the instructions. In all of the research I have done, you do not need a spark box unless you have a racing engine. The Ignitor 111 was designed for racing engines. The idle on both of my engines increased significantly with just the addition of the ignitor module. I kept the stock coils. I bypassed the ballast resistor on the 312, but kept the ignition resistor wire on the 289. Both have run great. BTW, I just had the Mustang dyno tuned, the ignition was fine, but they did find an additional 16 HP (and eliminated the slight spark know I experienced under load) by increasing the size of the primary and secondary jets in the Autolite carburetor.

The one caution; the instructions state that you need to use resistor ignition (spark plug) wires. I talked with the Pertronics tech support - they are serious about that recommendation. The solid core wires will cause electromagnetic radiation that will damage the ignitor module.

Hope this helps.
the pertronics and high output coil is the first thing i do with every classic bird i buy. next on the list is electric fuel pump and 1 wire alternator for cars with generators. boosts reliability considerably.
Hi 57tbird57. I’ve heard of one wire alternators but must admit I don’t know what the advantage is and how to connect them. Doug
Hi 57tbird57. I’ve heard of one wire alternators but must admit I don’t know what the advantage is and how to connect them. Doug
larry's thunderbird has the complete kit with instructions for sale. there are probably other suppliers as well.
Has anyone pulled the points and installed a Pertronix Ignitor in the Y-block 312?

Any tips or gotchas?

The original/basic Pertronix l unit is all that is needed in any street engine and is a straight swap for the points and condensor, requiring very litle time and no special coil, ignition wires, etc. It retains the original resistor (which steps down the voltage from 12 to 8) and orignal coil, etc. (the resistor is there to extend the life of the points and the Pertonix unit will work fine with it). It's essentially the same process as replacing the points and condensor. This unit simply eliminates the worry of burned out points and is very reliable, with no worries about gapping it (it will operate fine with virtually any gap). I

f you go to a Pertronix ll it will provide higher voltage and will also control dwell however, you will then also need a 45,000 volt coil (Pertronix sells them) which are internally regulated. That, in turn, will mean that you will need to swap the stock ignition wires because the stock type wires will eventually break down and will arc with a Pertonix ll, causing missfire and fouled spark plugs - trust me on this. Hill's sells two types of ignition wires: regular and premium, for that reason (both look the same in appearance). You will also need to bypass the stock resistor because the Pertornix ll and the requisite higher voltage coil want all 12 available volts.

Don't even think about a Pertronix lll - there is simply no reason for it in a street car. In, fact, I seriously doubt that anyone with an essentially stock '50's T-Bird would notice any diffrence between performance using a Pertornix l or ll so, no need to spend the time or money on a ll.

Again, the original Pertronix will deliver excellent performance and reliability for reasonable cost and very little installation time/effort - and you will never need to worry about points again. I have had the original Pertronix unit in 6 of my 7 vintage ('50's through early '70's) Fords since it appeared on the market and have never had a problem or failure. I recently decided to try a Pertronix ll in my '57 Bird (with Pertonix 45,000 volt coil) and am now having to replace the ignition wires after about 500 miles because the higher voltage is causing them to fail and arc, and as a result the engine is missing, fouling plugs and is running poorly after that amount of usage (I hve ordered the premium wire set (with brackets) from Hill's). Admittedly, I did not replace the ignition wires when I installed the Pertonix ll and high output coil but I have been advised that the problem will occur in time even with new wires unless they are "premium" and designed to withstand higher voltage (I have not replaced ignition wires with any of my Pertronix l installations and have never had a related problem).

With the original Pertronix l unit the recommended factory stock spark plug gap (c.35K ) should be retained. With the Pertronix ll I have heard that plug gaps can be opened up to 40K and even 45K but I stayed just under 40K. Again, I doubt that anyone will notice more power in these engines from a Pertronix ll than a l - I think the best you can hope for - in addition to better reliabilty, of course - is somewhat better fuel economy due to improved efficiency. You may be able to advance ignition timing a bit as well to further increase economy but that in turn will necessitate better fuel with higher octane ratings.
It's true that the Pertonix II can work with the ballast resitor in place but they reccomend it be removed for best performance. It is not necessary to replace the coil with the Pertonix II, (or the I) the original coil will work fine as long as its resistance is within spec (minimum of 1.5 ohms). (I have a II and original coil on my car). The voltage at which the plugs actually fire isn't determined by the coil, it's determined by the plug gap and engine compression, etc. The higher performance coils are *capable* of delivering higher voltage but they only deliver what the plugs demand, which is usually about 12K in a normal car. If you have a high-performance coil that allows you to run a wider points gap, which then makes the plug fire at a high voltage.
I put one in my 66 Mustang 20+ years ago and haven't touched it since .
I put 2 of them in my 57 tbird. If the underhood temp gets too high, it seems to fry the petronics unit. Works fine in my 61 Galaxie and 66 mustang
The petronix II in my 57 survived phx summer heat of 119 with the AC running and water temp up at 210 on hottest days. I had a petronix I in my 64 with AC and never had a problem on hot days.
I have one in my 57 D code. It has been there for years, and has been problem free here in Las Vegas where is does get a bit tepid for several months a year. I carry a spare, plus a set of points and condenser "just in case." All still in their boxes. Heat gun shows engine can get upwards of 200-210 in the summer at the upper radiator inlet, and it has been flawless. I doubt I'd go back to points and condenser, especially with some of the problems I have been told related to recently made condensers from our good friends in the R.O.C.😁
I have put Petronix on my 57, 59 and 60 Tbirds and ‘66 Mustang and in each case I removed the resistor and installed the matching Petronix coil and distributor cap. These all look like the originals so few would know that you’ve upgraded your ignition system. I’ve never had a problem with the spark plug wires or changed the spark plug gaps. The cars start quickly and run great! It’s one of the first things anyone with a points car should do to ensure its reliability and have piece of mind!