The MGA With An Attitude
160,000 mile test report

Mallory distributor

At 08:27 AM 3/24/04 -0500, Benjamin Gaudio wrote:
>"Do you have an opinion on the Mallory dual point distributors?"

Sure. I've been running one since 1992, about 160,000 miles now. I have the Mallory dual points mechanical unit with no vacuum advance. It is built quite well. After all that time and mileage it is still rock solid in good working condition, and will likely run at least that much longer without any trouble. It seems to run okay for about 12K miles between points adjustments, and I generally install new points the second time at about 24K. No complaints at all about durability or service intervals.

In fact there are some servicing advantages when not having to fiddle with the vacuum line. Quicker to R&R the carbs, manifolds, head, and the dizzy itself. That can be a significant plus when you do as much service as I do around the engine. Fortunately, I seem to have learned to build the engine better so it doesn't need as much servicing in recent times, but the little conveniences are appreciated.

Since it runs so long between points adjustments, the little extra work with dual points is more than offset by the reduced number of service calls. I will pull the dizzy out for convenience when servicing the points. R&R of either distributor may take a few minutes. Dual points adjustment or installation takes two or three minutes longer than single points, but I only need to do it half as often.

There are a couple of minor negatives.

The mechanical advance comes up fairly quickly above idle, but not quite as quick as the original dizzy with vacuum unit. By about 1500 rpm its doing fine, but below 1500 it may be a little shy on torque and throttle response. That just takes a little getting used to, like the first dozen starts from a dead stop. I set the idle to about 1000 rpm for quicker response when I poke it, and give it a few hundred RPM extra before letting the clutch up, and it's off like a shot. I hardly ever dawdle around under 1500 rpm when it's moving anyway, so not much to be concerned about. I also use the MGB flywheel in the MGA, about 8 pounds lighter, which helps with quicker throttle response.

The other significant point is the cost of service parts. I bought the Mallory originally because it was nearly $100 cheaper than a new Lucas unit. But that difference can quickly be eaten up in the cost of tune up parts.

Lucas cap, rotor, condenser = $20 (replacement type)
Lucas points = $4 (replacement type)

Mallory cap, rotor, condenser = $40
Mallory points (2 sets) = $34

I buy cap, rotor and condenser only half as often as I buy points, but that difference in the cost of points is a killer. Not so bad if you only drive 6K per year and change them at 24K, but when I drive up to 24K miles in some years, the annual points change has me wondering if the Mallory was such a good idea. Over a couple of busy years and 48K, the totals come to: Lucas=$36, Mallory=$108. You can see where the cost is going if you add another zero to the mileage.

Bottom line is, I'm tickled pink with the reliability and reduced service of the Mallory unit, just suffering sticker shock every time I have to order tune up parts. This gives you a second to think about the value of the Mallory Unilite electronic distributor, where you think for a moment that you never have to buy points. But that thought lasts just long enough for you to realize that it costs an additional $245 up front, and who in their right mind wants to pay $500 for a distributor? If that electronic unit ever crapped out for any reason, no matter how many miles down the road, you might be kicking yourself forever. I have no idea what the replacement cost would be (other than buying another complete distributor).

Oh, for what it's worth, there will be no discernible advantage in power output or fuel economy with any unit. The fanciest or most expensive ignition systems will never be cost justified.

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