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Ignition Box Comparison - Ignition Box Comparo

By Miles Cook, Photography by Miles Cook

Who makes it? MSD
What's it called? 6AL
PN: 6420
Ease of Installation: The MSD box is average sized so placement is not a big problem. The universal nature of the 6A boxes are augmented by several harnesses for late-model applications so the units can plug in without cutting or splicing wires.
Dimensions: 8x4x2 1/4 inches
Weight: 3 pounds
Maximum Operating RPM: 15,000
Claimed Voltage Output: 460-480
Claimed Spark Energy Output: 105-115 millijoules
Features: The 6AL is one of the most venerable capacitive discharge boxes on the market. MSD says that the 6T version is a mainstay in NASCAR racing. Unlike the base 6A box, the 6AL includes a Soft-Touch rev control that protects from the usual blunders like missed shifts and broken drivetrain parts. While the plug-in modules work fine for setting the rev limit, they're a bit antiquated compared to the built-in rotary switches found in some other ignitions. The Soft Touch's rev-limiting action is smooth and precise with no backfires or roughness. The box comes with 3,000-, 6,000-, 7,000-, and 8,000-rpm modules; a full range of rev chips from 3,000 to 13,900 rpm are available in 200-rpm increments. Three available late-model GM harnesses and a Ford TFI harness eliminate cutting and splicing for 6AL installations. The 6AL is 50-state legal on any pre-'96, pre-OBD II vehicle under CARB EO #D-40-14.
Typical street or mail-order price range: $155-$175.

Race Who makes it? Crane
What's it called? Fireball HI-7
PN: 7000-7220
Dimensions: 7 1/2x7x2 1/2 inches
Weight: 4 pounds
Maximum Operating RPM: 12,000
Claimed Voltage Output: 475
Claimed Spark Energy Output: 340 millijoules at 10,000 rpm
Features: Combined with the PS92 coil (PN 730-0092) the HI-7 cranks out enough beans for basically anything short of a Top Fuel car. As is typical for many hard-core racing boxes, the HI-7 has a clamp-style terminal block for signal connections. The PS92 coil is specifically designed to transfer the high primary energy of the HI-7 to the plug gap. With similar basic features as with the HI-6, the 7 has added safety updates because of the extreme spark-gap current produced. There are no exposed high-voltage points, and special insulating connectors are used on both ends of the coil harness. The HI-7 can be triggered by GM HEI, Ford, Mopar, and aftermarket distributors, as well as crank triggers. The unit will work with OE late-model electronic systems, as well as aftermarket engine-management systems that provide an industry standard 12-volt square wave points/module trigger signal. The HI-7 will work with power supplies as low as 8 volts.
Typical street or mail-order price range: $385-$400

Who makes it? Holley
What's it called? Strip Annihilator
PN: 800-200
Dimensions: Strip Annihilator box: 6.60x- 4.20x2.55 inches; Quickshot programmer: 4.60x2.75x0.90 inches.
Weight: Strip Annihilator: 4.55 pounds; Quickshot programmer: 3/4 pound
Maximum Operating RPM: 16,000
Claimed Voltage Output: 525
Claimed Spark Energy Output: 135 millijoules
Features: With several more features than the standard HP Annihilator unit, the Strip Annihilator is a serious race box, compatible with any brand and type of distributor-be it points, an HEI, or a magnetic pickup. This box has three rev limiters that can be random or sequential; each is adjustable in 100-rpm increments to any rpm. One is always active, while two are actuated by external switches such as a Line-Loc solenoid, trans brake, or delay box. Unlike the other boxes shown here, Holley's Quickshot programmer allows all the settings of the system to be adjusted through a handheld detachable unit. The two-digit LED readout, soft-touch keypad, and 5-foot cable make it easy to read while sitting in the car. Once programmed, the programmer can be removed and stored or left connected for its built-in digital tach. As with the HP, the Strip will run on as little as 10 volts, but shuts off at 7 volts.
Typical street or mail-order price range: $290-$310

Who makes it? Jacobs Electronics
What's it called? Pro 10
PN: 370605 (Ford EEC-IV application, shown)
Dimensions: 9x4 1/2x2 1/2 inches
Weight: 6 pounds
Maximum Operating RPM: 12,000
Claimed Voltage Output: 550
Claimed Spark Energy Output: 50-1,400 millijoules
Features: The Pro 10 is the top dog of the Jacobs boxes. The Mileage Master and Pro Street (the box highlighted above in the Ultra Team) are the two models below the 10. Available separately or in its own version of the Ultra Team, the Pro 10 is a full race box for drag, road, and roundy-round action, or even for a racing boat. Compatible with alcohol, methanol, and other race fuels, the box has a built-in rev limiter. While a Ford setup is shown (both Duraspark and TFI applications are offered), the Pro 10 is also available with connectors for all sorts of GM HEI internal- and external-coil applications, as well as several Mopar setups. Input and output LEDs on the unit help verify proper operation at a glance. Factory suggested retail price: $389

Who makes it? MSD
What's it called? 7AL-3
Dimensions: 8x3 3/4x5 3/4 inches
Weight: 4 3/4 pounds
Maximum Operating RPM: 14,000
Claimed Voltage Output: 550
Claimed Spark Energy Output: 160 millijoules
Features: The 7AL-3 is based off the long-proven 7AL-2, but provides 20 percent more primary voltage than the 2's 480 volts. It also cranks out 35 percent more spark energy. While it's the most expensive box here, it's loaded with trick stuff. The unit's three-step rev control provides three limits controlled with plug-in chips-the first is for burnouts, and the second is for when the car leaves the line. The top-end race limit is the insurance you need for missed shifts or parts breakage. The supplied modules are 3,000, 7,000, 8,000, and 9,000 rpm. There's also a multistep timing retard with four modules that can be activated at different times by a variety of things such as a micro-switch on the shifter or a nitrous solenoid. For example, in multistage nitrous setups, a different retard amount can be introduced as each stage is activated. When shifting into top gear, a top-end retard could be activated for more mph. Unique to the 7AL-3 is a start retard that's beneficial to race engines with crank triggers or locked-out distributors. During cranking, the feature retards timing 25 degrees so the engine will turn over easier. When the engine starts, the timing goes back to the mechanical setting, thereby saving wear on the starter and the motor. The final option is an rpm-activated switch that will trigger a solenoid or shift light at a preset engine speed.
Typical street or mail-order price range: $510-$550

Who makes it? Mallory
What's it called? HyFire VII
PN: 667
Dimensions: 9x5x4 1/4 inches (height includes rubber shock mounts)
Weight: 4 pounds, 10 ounces
Maximum Operating RPM: 12,000
Claimed Voltage Output: 500
Claimed Spark Energy Output: 125 millijoules
Features: While the HyFire VII is a stout race piece in good company with this group of high-end systems, it's also 50-state legal under CARB EO #D-70-6. A unique part of this unit is its Toroidal inductor increasing spark duration throughout the rpm range. Also in the box is a proportional rpm-limiting circuit that has a numeric display with fingertip setting for rpm programming from 4,000 to 13,800 rpm. Rubber shock mounts are also included, and the box can be triggered by points, a Mallory ignition, an OE amplifier, a magnetic pickup distributor, or a crank trigger. Mallory's Pro Master coil (28880) must also be used with this box so the rev limiter will function properly. PN 667 works on V-8 and four-cylinder engines. For V-6 engines, order PN 667-6.
Typical street or mail-order price range: $270-$290

Crane Cams
1830 Holsonback Drive
Daytona Beach
FL  32117
Holley Performance Products
1801 Russellville Rd.
Bowling Green
KY  42101
Jacobs Electronics
2519 Dana Dr.
NC  28352
By Miles Cook
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