Video: Mallory Reintroduces Classic Mallory Unilite Distributor


The Unilite comes with brass terminal inserts in the distributor cap. The cap and the matching rotor come in the world-famous Mallory red color. The cap hold-downs are chrome plated, and a grommet protects the three wires extending from the distributor.

What was once old is now new again. Mallory Ignition has recently reintroduced a ‘70s classic – the Mallory Unilite distributor. An excerpt from the 1976 NHRA Summernationals Souvenir Program states, “now, a complete breakerless ignition system…all inside the distributor, and…what a distributor.” The Unilite was described as a new design with a miniaturized amplifier and trigger module inside the housing. Everything was self-contained, so there was no need for drilling holes or separate parts to purchase. The Unilite was triggered with a tiny beam of infrared light that fired the engine flawlessly and smoothly and remained unaffected by wear, dirt, or moisture.

All the benefits from the 1970s are found in the re-released Unilite distributor. There are Unilite distributors designed for the Mopar small- and big-blocks (and many other manufacturers). Both distributors are an electronic ignition design with a one-piece self-contained optical pickup and module. There is a three-wire hookup that allows the distributor to operate with a stock or aftermarket coil. A Mallory Promaster Series coil and a Mallory HyFire Captive Discharge (CD) ignition box are a nice compliment to the Unilite. Each distributor comes with a quality rotor and cap with brass terminal inserts – both in the familiar Mallory red.

Above left: The popular 1970s Mallory Unilite distributor has made a triumphant return. Since its introduction several decades ago, the new Unilite has a few updated features. These features increase the reliability of the distributor. The Unilite is fully adjustable, allowing precise tuning of your engine to maximize performance and fuel economy. Above center: From the 1976 NHRA Summernationals Souvenir Program, this advertisement describes the original Mallory Unilite as a complete breakerless ignition system with all the electronics housed inside the distributor. The contemporary version of the Unilite is the same design as the 1970s unit. Above right: A change from the 1970s distributor is the treatment of the 0.500-inch diameter shaft. The Unilite’s shaft is Quench Polish Quench (QPQ) coated and supported by a series of ball-bearings that offer extended shaft life. QPQ is a specialized type of nitrocarburizing case hardening that increases corrosion resistance.

Mallory designed the distributor to fit into tight spaces. The Unilite’s compactness clears firewall-mounted wiper motors in Mopar A-bodies with a small-block and aftermarket AC compressors with a big-block. The distributor has a 0.500-inch diameter distributor shaft that is Quench Polish Quench (QPQ) coated and supported by a series of ball-bearings that offer extended shaft life. QPQ is a specialized type of nitrocarburizing case hardening that increases corrosion resistance. All these features come with the classic Mallory appearance and styling.

The Unilite arrives pre-set with a centrifugal advance rate that starts at 1500 rpm and is fully advanced by 4000 rpm. The distributor comes with additional advance springs (two heavy and two light), which provide six different advance rate combinations. Additionally, the distributor is set for 21° of total centrifugal advance. However, five supplementary advance bushings can fine-tune the total centrifugal advance from 18° to 28°. With the broad range of tuneability built into the Mallory distributor, the Unilite is a perfect fit for any Mopar.

To be up and running, the Unilite needs only three wires to be connected. Mallory has designed the Unilite to work with a stock or aftermarket coil. If additional performance is required, the Mallory Promaster Series coil and a Mallory HyFire Captive Discharge (CD) ignition box work well with the Unilite.

The Unilite has an emission rating of four, which means it is lawful for all pre-1966 California and pre-1968 Federally certified passenger cars. It is also applicable to non-emission-controlled trucks and vehicles competing in off-road sanctioned events. It is not intended for any emission-controlled vehicles operated on highways or roads unless otherwise noted.

Maybe, it is time for you to go Back to the Future to update your ignition. A Mallory Unilite distributor may be what you need. It will accomplish just enough of the cool retro look while providing the full adjustability you desire. Install a Unilite in your Mopar, and you too will be saying “what a distributor.”

Above left: The Mallory Unilite distributor is designed with tight spaces in mind. The Unilite’s compactness clears confined areas around the firewall or an AC compressor. Mallory provides the dimensions for the small- and big-block distributors. Above right: The Unilite is pre-set with a centrifugal advance rate that begins at 1500 rpm and achieves full advance at 4000 rpm. Additional springs can be swapped to adjust the advance rate. The distributor is set for 21° of total centrifugal advance. Five supplementary advance bushings can fine-tune the total centrifugal advance from 18° to 28°.

Share this post

Chris Holley

Chris Holley

Technical Contributor Chris has been a college professor for 20 years; the last 15 spent at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. During the day Chris instructs HVAC and electrical/electronic classes, and high-performance classes, which includes the usage of a chassis dyno, flow benches, and various machining equipment at night. Chris owns a '75 Dart, a '06 Charger, a '12 Cummins turbo diesel Ram, and he is a multi-time track champion (drag racing) with his '69 340 Dart, which he has owned almost 30 years.

No comments

Add yours

No Thanks