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May 14, 2001 - Well, folks, a sad story, but true. I installed the Pertronix Ignitor in my Matador Coupe, and initially everything went great. I do have a ballast resistor, and the installation was strictly by the book. I drove 180 miles to my parents house with no problems. While driving around town there, however, the car suddenly died at a stop light. Since the AC was on, I figured the curb idle wasn't high enough. It restarted and ran for about 3 seconds and died. I headed for a parking lot and restarted again, and it only sputtered for a second or two and then quit. I was off the street by now, and could smell something burning. I cautiously opened the hood, and smoke was pouring from underneath my distributor cap!
I removed the cap and rotor, and removed the charred remains of my Pertronix unit. The casing was actually split, and the red wire was totally melted away from the unit. Fortunately I was able to call my Dad, and we reinstalled the points and condensor and away I went.
Does anyone have any ideas on what happened? I can't imagine that I did anything wrong. I checked the air gap closely, followed all the wiring directions, and even reread the instructions to be sure it was done right. I am baffled. Needless to say, I will be in touch with Pertronix, but I wanted some other opinions as well.
May 11, 2001 - Well, it has been a long, hard winter, and I did not get much done to the car. In the past few weeks, however, I have been able to catch up a bit. I will have pictures of these upgrades soon. First, I replaced the 76 grille with a 1974 grille. I like the look of the round turn signal lights better than the rectangular ones, and the earlier grilles are much sturdier. The front wheel bearings were making some noise, so I replaced them, and I also replaced the wheel studs on the front with slightly longer ones since I am using a wheel spacer to allow clearance between the wide tires and the tie rod ends.
The best upgrade I made was to put in the Pertronix Ignitor kit - part #1181. It replaces the points and condenser, giving you a solid state ignition, without replacing the cap, rotor or distributor. It took an hour to do, and was very simple. The car starts up quicker, and seems to run better. I haven't driven it much, but will be taking a 6 hour round trip this weekend, so I should get an idea if it has a "seat of the pants" improvement.
I will hopefully be making some cosmetic improvements to the car this summer as well. There are a few spots where nicks and scratches have a bit of surface rust, and some touch-up repairs on the drivers side are looking kind of poor. Don't know if I will be able to swing a full repaint, but I will be paying some attention to the paint.