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Performance Distributors

Performance Distributors
High Performance Ignition Systems

By Jack Brinks

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For almost 30 years now, Performance Distributors has been building ignition systems.  Founded by racer and ignition specialist, Kelly Davis, the company is now run by his son, Steve, who has literally grown up in the business.  Located behind a relatively non-descript façade, Performance Distributors continues to research and develop new products for today’s changing automotive market.

Performancd Distributors
Performancd Distributors

Although their product line has expanded to include high output alternators, ignition components, and specialty batteries, their mainstay continues to be the H.E.I. based performance Davis Unified Ignition (D.U.I.) distributor, and the popular high quality ignition wires known as “LiveWires”.

Performancd Distributors
Performancd Distributors

Performance Distributors was the first to develop a performance H.E.I. distributor, which is now available for numerous applications, including Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler/Dodge, AMC, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, and Toyota Land Cruisers.  They ship anywhere in the world, In fact, while I was visiting their facility in Memphis, TN, they were building a D.U.I. distributor for a customer in Denmark!   

What are the advantages of a D.U.I. distributor?  Well, based on Performance Distributors marketing, there a quite a few, but let’s start with the obvious.  There’s only one wire to hook up.  You can throw away your old ignition module and coil. They’re history! 

Your engine compartment is less cluttered.  The distributor housing and shaft are supported by upper and lower bushings for durability. 

The main advantages are improved performance (increased torque & horsepower), improved throttle response and better fuel economy.  The internal 50,000 volt coil and Dyna-Module allow you to run wider spark plug gaps, up to .055”.  The Dyna-Module has more dwell built into it, allowing greater coil saturation time and increasing spark intensity.  This hotter spark results in a more consistent burn of the fuel mixture in the combustion chamber, meaning easier starting and smoother acceleration, as well.     

Here you can see a few of the distributor housings, caps, shafts, and drive gears built to Performance Distributor’s specifications to fit various engines.  Shop Foreman, Scott Sowards, is at work cleaning up a housing on a  lathe prior to assembly, not only to improve its appearance, but to insure proper clearances. 

Performancd Distributors Performancd Distributors

Since each distributor is built specifically for the customer’s engine, they are not pre-assembled.  When the order comes in, the crew at Performance Distributors goes to work assembling the distributor shaft into the housing, adding the drive gear and installing the Dyna-Module high performance ignition module.  The timing advance centrifugal weights and springs are then custom-fitted based upon the engine specs, weight of the vehicle, weight of vehicle towed, type of transmission, type of fuel, etc..  Each one of the factors has an effect on engine timing and a direct effect on vehicle performance and fuel economy. 

Performancd Distributors
Performancd Distributors

Once assembled to this point, each distributor is “chucked up” in a distributor machine to verify the timing advance is dead on.  With few exceptions, Scott custom tunes each distributor.  Once exact, both springs and weights are marked in red to allow for proper reassembly, should it ever be needed.  Also, an ID number and specs are marked on the bottom of the distributor housing for future reference in case you make modifications to your engine later on.  If so, simply pick up the phone and give them a call.   Based on your proposed or actual changes, Performance Distributors can tell you if you’ll need to change your advance curve accordingly, and exactly how to do it.  Or, you can send your distributor to them for modification. Easy!  

Performancd Distributors
Performancd Distributors

Once completely assembled, the distributor is placed in another distributor machine designed to verify that everything is working like it’s supposed to.  After initial testing, Scott ran this one up to over 7,000 RPM, well over the normal operating RPM this specific distributor was intended for, with no problems! 

One little trick used to reduce the possibility of spark scatter inside the distributor cap is nylon rotor hold down screws instead of the factory metal screws.  Arcing across a rotor screw and spark plug terminal will not only cause poor performance, it can lead to costly engine damage!

Performancd Distributors
Performancd Distributors

If you need even more RPM’s out of your engine, Performance Distributors can build you a Racing D.U.I. that’ll go up to 9,000+ RPM, with the optional and revolutionary “Instant Timing Knob” that will allow fine tuning of the engine timing without having to loosen and turn the distributor!

Performancd DistributorsThere’s no doubt that Performance Distributors can build you a D.U.I. distributor that will improve your engine’s performance and fuel economy.  The most difficult thing you may have to decide on is which color you want, or whether you want to go with the newest LiveWires option, Camo!  Go check out all of the options at www.performancedistributors.com.

Other products from Performance Distributors include the “Mr. Amp” alternator that puts out 65 amps at idle, has a 130 amp maximum output and a one-wire hook up and the “DYNA-BATT” 12-volt dry cell battery that weighs in at a measly 13.5 pounds!  They also sell many individual ignition components such as billet aluminum wire looms, high performance coils, self-powered timing lights, and a rev-limiter for street, racing and marine D.U.I. distributors.

When you’re in the market for high performance ignition components, check with Performance Distributors first.  They may not be the cheapest, but there’s no question of their quality.  You’ve heard it before, “You get what you pay for!”

STAY TUNED…coming soon…we install a Performance Distributors D.U.I. Distributor, LiveWires and Billet Aluminum Wire Looms on the AMC 401 in our Déjà vu CJ-7. Until then, keep the shiny side up!




Performance Distributors
2699 Barris Drive
Memphis, TN 38132
(901) 396-5782


Jack Brinks

Jack Brinks is an avid four-wheeler and a contributor here at ROCKCRAWLER.com. Jack's a Texan and frequents many events in the Southwest.

Contact Jack at jb77cj7@rockcrawler.com





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