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Technical Mallory vs. MSD Distributors

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 34Larry, May 19, 2020.

  1. 34Larry
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 1,649


    I'm buying a new distributor for my 331 HEMI. I buy most of my needs from Hot Heads.
    They show two they handle, the Mallory @ $365.00 and the MSD @ $473.00.
    I'm looking for advise on these two, one vs. the other or even advise on another brand. The price is no deterrent, I just want the best out there. Thanks for help you can offer from your own experience's.
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 50,282


    from hot heads:

    Mallory Unilite Distributor $ 365.00
    331/354 MSD Pro Billet Distributor
    $ 473.00

    now we know what you're asking about.

    If those are the only choices...the MSD would be my choice. But there might be something else out there.
  3. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 2,552

    oldiron 440

    My Ford W motor now gets a MSD billit distributor, it replaced a Mallory dullepiont. It just comes down to parts and technology.
    On my RB mopar I went from a modified factory electronic distributor to MSD pro billit.
    On both I went from kicking myself to moving forward.
    I use a MSD box somewhere in the car without fail.....
    One more thing: MSD offers distributor caps in black....
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
  4. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 8,167

    Bandit Billy

    I actually put my money where my fingertips are and purchased the MSD plug and play from Hot Heads for my Desoto hemi. Works muy perfecto!
    Doug Kennedy likes this.

  5. badvolvo
    Joined: Jul 25, 2011
    Posts: 472


    Just an FYI, MSD and Mallory are owned by Holley. I went with MSD on the last few builds.
  6. Unless the QC on the Mallory Unilite has improved over the last few years, the MSD is a far superior product.
    Doug Kennedy and Atwater Mike like this.
  7. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 725

    from so cal

    I’m going retro on my blown 331 with a Mallory Chevy style on a Hot Heads adapter.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  8. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,728

    Atwater Mike

    My 354 Chrysler hemi has a newly reman. Scintilla Vertex mag by Roger Gleason at Joe Hunt Magnetos.
    Original mag was off Von Franco's Olds in his '34 pickup...I traded him my Jackson Roto-Faze to go on his now famous Kookie Kar klone...
    Roger reversed the spinning mechanism, refinished the case, and replaced magnets and coil. Nice.
    BUT: If I didn't have my Vertex mag, I'd buy the MSD. Dependable hot spark.
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  9. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 8,167

    Bandit Billy

    And I will add that if my engine was exposed (it will have a hood) and if the distributor wasn't buried in the back of the engine (desoto) I would have been more concerned with how the distributor looks. You cant see it so I went with runs good and no fuss.

    I would also like to compliment everyone on going most of the page without using the term di_ _ y. :rolleyes:
    das858, egads, dan griffin and 2 others like this.
  10. hotrodjack33
    Joined: Aug 19, 2019
    Posts: 3,070


    Ran a Mallory Unilite on the 302 in my old '32 sedan Deliv. for 12 years. Changed the module, cap and rotor once...only because I lost my nerve. Kept the old parts for spares...never needed them.
  11. the msd is the best. its a ball bearing design compared to a bushing design. the timing has less fluctuation. it comes with various springs to set the advance. it also has several bushings to control how much advance it gets. there is a chart that's supplied with all the different combinations so you don't have to guess. its real easy to get it perfect. the msd also allows the advance to be locked out for efi use or in a blower application. I ran one on my hemi with no issues. I also have one in my 66 chevelle and my sons 69 super bee. they work.
    loudbang likes this.
  12. Yeah, the red caps are a deal-breaker for me too. The downside to most of these is they use a proprietary cap/rotor that may not be easy to find just anywhere if you need one in a hurry. Not very traditional looking either.

    Mallory design/quality has been uneven at best for years, I've never had any issues with MSD.
    loudbang likes this.
  13. 34Larry
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 1,649


    So far it's (7):cool: to (2) MSD:p), sooooooooooo...…..………. leaning that way to be sure. Special thanks to racer x, and squirrel (Jim), for advice from the racing boys.:D

    BTW I kind of worded this like I'd like advice from just Hemi guys but meant advise from all users of these two brands.
  14. 392
    Joined: Feb 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,206


    MSD for me. Not one issue in years. Like racer-x said easy and versatile.
    loudbang likes this.
  15. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 7,386


    My experience with Mallory Unilite is that the modules burn out
    and are $100+ to replace. Does Pertronix make a kit for MOPAR distributors?
    They are durable units.
  16. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,866

    from kansas

    If its possible on those to run the newer mopar (late 60's- 70's) style electronic distributor I'd run one of those with the gm hei module instead of the mopar brain box in a heart beat. It's a well proven combo across the board on the street, off road and racing.

    In fact my 31 ford will run that setup in the 440.
  17. I'm a hard core mopar guy so to say the mopar dist is crap compared to a msd says alot. I swear if you pull out the mopar distributor and put in the msd you will hear the difference as soon as you start it up. The mopar is a brushed unit with alot of slop. The timing light doesn't lie.
    egads and loudbang like this.
  18. 34Larry
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 1,649


    post deleted. Asked about pertronix for 331 could not find on line. They do not make one. On the phone now to them waiting to find out if any other one they make will work. Will post if they do.

    I waited in que until it timed me out. I've heard bad things about this brand anyway, but Jim says he's put them in the last (3) cars he's built with no issues cropping up. Not going to go this way any so why bother caring?
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
  19. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,480


    The LA can be run by extending the dist. shaft or (better) get an extended intermediate shaft. If you're going to run a non OEM oil pump then you need a different Int. shaft anyway.
  20. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,666


    In one of your other posts about this annoying miss your automotive guru had written the firing order wrong. He had it as 1-8-4-3-6-7-5-2. Was that a typo on your part, or did he actually have the firing order wrong?
  21. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,911


    I have a Mallory "flattop" in the hemi in my race car (Avatar), and I put in a set of quick change gears for each track that will limit the RPM to 5500 (usually) on the backstretch. Works great, and it has points.
  22. 34Larry
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 1,649


    Sorry a typo on my part. 1 8 4 3 6 5 7 2 is correct and the way I have it set.
  23. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,192


    I'd just bone up for the MSD and be done with it. Proven to work, no issue with finding parts or info and you aren't mixing and matching parts and pieces.
    Even if they make one you don't just throw in a Pertronix kit and go, you switch to everything that they specify to make it work/last or you have issues. How may dozens of "I put a Pertronix in mid distributor and now it doesn't run after a few days threads do we have on here? Great if you buy the whole package, not so great if you try to use some of your existing pieces.
    LA Mopar distributors aren't the most accurate things around according to my Mopar buddies. Even then you would have to hunt down the right shaft or find someone who can make one up.
    Mallory: Work great if everything is perfect with the system but again tend to blow modules if things aren't.
    I'd think that when the drags open up at PIR so you could actually walk the pits a bit and see what guys use 75% of the guys racing in anything besides dragsters and funny cars are using MSD. That from a guy who really isn't an MSD fan for street cars because a lot of them I see locally don't really need all the race hardware on the street with no more motor than they have.
    bchctybob likes this.
    Joined: Jun 15, 2006
    Posts: 3,400


    And I would buy the MSD ( forgive me ) especially for the HEMI ...As a ignition dude i would say " Buy the MSD like the others ....
    bchctybob likes this.
  25. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,094

    from Oregon

    That's easily avoided if you put the protection ahead of them. Mallory sells one for $35 that clips alternator spikes. But I've usually just put a ceramic factory resistor ahead of them and never had one burn out.
  26. I don’t know what kind of MSD crap I get to see???
    Granted if it’s running fine I probably won’t see it,,, But when I do see the Might Suddenly Die Ignition system it isn’t playing ball.

    I don’t give a shit what color the cap is Because there’s like 229,000 different colors of spray paint.
  27. I just modified the original distributor with factory HEI pickup and reluctor, mounted a GM module on the cowl. Works well. I don't see how one of the subject distributors, at about three times the cost, could be better.

    My 2 cents

  28. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,911


    The factory distributors in these engines were dual point units already, and if not all worn out are perfectly adequate. Put in a couple sets of quality points and a good condenser and use Packard 440 wires, and you have a completely adequate setup for all but all-out racing.

    I know, because I ran one in my race car before I found the Mallory. But the "flattop" sure looks cooler than a stocker!:cool:
  29. the small block mopar and sbc caps are the same part number. they make a black cap. the 331 and 354 use the same distributor. if it was my hemi i wouldnt hack a stock gm ignition into my build. if i felt that was my only option i would at least upgrade to the accel hotter ignition pieces. i tried that route on a sbc and it didnt work well on my hopped up engine. i put the accel parts on with only a slight improvement. as far as what is the advantage read my previous posts. you get what you pay for. the ignition system is not the place to cheap out on.
    31Vicky with a hemi likes this.
  30. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 3,635

    from illinois

    I think its OBSCENE that a distributor costs nearly $500 !
    Pitbullgoingpostal likes this.

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