A Vintage Sun Distributor Tester Finds A Fitting Home At Pertronix


Sun distributor testers have become one of the ultimate centerpieces for any vintage shop equipment collector’s horde. Designed with a distinctive 1950s feel, their traditional red and hammertone blue paint scheme is an instant eye-catcher. Complimented by contrasting off-white bubble lettering, they’re nothing short of beautifully-brilliant with rounded edges and a real steel construction that’s become synonymous with the era.

A stop by the PerTronix Performance Brands headquarters in San Dimas, CA would delight any greasy gear collector with a greeting from their very own Sun 500. Manufactured in the 1960s, the 500 model was and still is capable of dialing in almost any old single or dual point distributor.

One big benefit was that the advance curve could be set on the bench rather than in the restrictive environment under hood. A full compliment of gauges included readouts for RPM, dwell, vacuum, and condenser condition. RPM would be used to set the curve, dwell would be used to set the point contacts, vacuum would verify functionality of a vacuum advance canister, and capacitance was the main indicator for condenser fitness.

When spun up to maximum whirl, red arrows pointing outward from center would denote event degrees in a spectacle fit for the local Christmas light competition. This particular model is lucky to have found a home with the ignition experts at PerTronix and, although it might be relegated to show duty these days, it’s still got a thing or two that it could teach us.

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Kent Will

News Editor Kent grew up in the shop with his old man and his '70 Charger R/T. His first car was a 1969 Super Bee project when Kent was fourteen. That restoration experience lead to pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a career in manufacturing. Since then, the garage has expanded to include a '67 Satellite, a '72 Scamp, and a 2010 Mopar '10 Challenger.

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