Best Distributor For Pontiac 400

best distributor for pontiac 400

History of the Pontiac 400

The Pontiac 400 made its debut in 1967, a time when the demand for high-performance engines was at its peak. Developed by the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors, this engine quickly became a staple in the muscle car community. It was designed to offer a balance of power and reliability, making it a popular choice for both street and track applications.

Technical Specifications

The Pontiac 400 is a V8 engine with a displacement of 400 cubic inches (6.6 liters). It features a cast-iron block and heads, a bore and stroke of 4.12 inches by 3.75 inches, respectively, and a compression ratio that varied from 8.0:1 to 10.5:1 depending on the model year and specific application. The engine’s design allows for significant aftermarket modifications, contributing to its lasting popularity.

Evolution Over the Years

Over its production run, the Pontiac 400 underwent several changes and improvements. Early versions featured high-performance components such as four-barrel carburetors and high-compression pistons. In the 1970s, as emissions regulations tightened, Pontiac adjusted the engine to meet new standards, which often meant lower compression ratios and different carburetor setups. Despite these changes, the Pontiac 400 remained a strong performer.

Pontiac 400 in Classic Cars

The Pontiac 400 engine powered numerous classic cars, including the Pontiac GTO, Firebird, and Trans Am. These vehicles are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts for their performance and historical significance. The presence of a Pontiac 400 engine often enhances a car’s value and desirability, making it a key factor in the classic car market.

Performance Upgrades

For those looking to boost the performance of their Pontiac 400, there are numerous modifications available. Common upgrades include installing a high-performance camshaft, upgrading to aluminum heads, and improving the exhaust system. Additionally, many enthusiasts opt to enhance the ignition system by installing a modern, high-performance distributor.

Best Distributors for Pontiac 400

Choosing the right distributor for your Pontiac 400 is crucial for optimizing performance. The distributor is responsible for directing the spark to the correct cylinder at the right time, which is essential for efficient combustion. Here are some top choices for distributors:

MSD Pro-Billet Distributor

The MSD Pro-Billet Distributor is known for its high performance and reliability. It features a CNC machined billet aluminum housing, an adjustable mechanical advance, and is compatible with MSD ignition boxes. This distributor is ideal for high-performance builds where precision and durability are paramount.

Pertronix Flame-Thrower Distributor

The Pertronix Flame-Thrower Distributor offers an integrated Ignitor II electronic ignition system, which improves throttle response and reliability over traditional points systems. It’s a plug-and-play installation, making it an excellent choice for those upgrading from a points system.

HEI Distributor by DUI (Davis Unified Ignition)

The HEI Distributor by DUI is renowned for its simplicity and performance. It features a one-wire installation, built-in high-output coil, and delivers a high energy spark for improved combustion. This distributor is perfect for street and strip applications needing a powerful spark and easy installation.

Mallory 65 Series Distributor

The Mallory 65 Series Distributor offers durability and performance. With an adjustable mechanical advance and compact size, it’s a great option for those looking for a balance between performance and fitment. However, it does require an external ignition control box.

Original Equipment Reproduction (OER) Distributor

For enthusiasts seeking authenticity, the Original Equipment Reproduction (OER) Distributor provides a period-correct appearance and reliable performance. While it lacks modern performance enhancements, it is ideal for classic restorations aiming for originality.

Installation Tips and Tricks

Installing a new distributor in your Pontiac 400 can be straightforward if you follow some basic steps:

  1. Preparation: Ensure the engine is at top dead center (TDC) on the compression stroke for cylinder one.
  2. Removal: Disconnect the battery, remove the old distributor, and note the position of the rotor.
  3. Installation: Align the new distributor’s rotor to the same position, install the distributor, and secure it.
  4. Adjustment: Set the initial timing and adjust the advance curve as needed.
  5. Testing: Reconnect the battery, start the engine, and check for proper operation.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Regular maintenance of your distributor is essential for reliable performance. This includes checking the cap and rotor for wear, ensuring proper ignition timing, and inspecting the wiring for any damage. Common issues such as misfiring or poor performance can often be traced back to the distributor, making it a critical component to maintain.


The Pontiac 400 engine remains a legendary powerplant in the world of muscle cars. Whether you’re restoring a classic or building a high-performance machine, understanding the history, technical details, and best practices for this engine is crucial. By choosing the right components and maintaining them properly, you can keep your Pontiac 400 running strong for years to come.


Our choice for the best distributor for Pontiac 400

MAS Racing HEI Distributor&Spark Plug





What makes the Pontiac 400 special?
The Pontiac 400 is renowned for its robust performance, durability, and historical significance in muscle cars. Its balance of power and reliability has made it a favorite among enthusiasts.

Can I use a modern distributor in my Pontiac 400?
Yes, modern distributors can be used in a Pontiac 400. Upgrading to an electronic ignition system can improve performance and reliability compared to traditional points systems.

How often should I maintain my distributor?
It’s recommended to inspect your distributor every 12,000 miles or annually, whichever comes first. Regular maintenance includes checking the cap and rotor, adjusting timing, and inspecting wiring.

What are the best upgrades for a Pontiac 400?
Popular upgrades include high-performance camshafts, aluminum heads, improved exhaust systems, and modern ignition systems. These modifications can significantly enhance horsepower and torque.

Is the Pontiac 400 suitable for racing?
Absolutely! The Pontiac 400 is well-suited for racing applications, especially when equipped with performance upgrades. Its strong foundation and availability of aftermarket parts make it a competitive choice.

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