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Updating your classic vehicle with Electronic Fuel Injection is the first and best step toward improving its overall drivability and performance. EFI provides the benefit of the ECU making constant adjustments to the fuel delivery by monitoring the oxygen in the exhaust with the goal of maintaining the optimum air-to-fuel ratio across the ever-changing loads and rpm of your engine.
One of the most popular carburetor replacement EFI systems is the Sniper EFI from Holley. Several systems are available ranging from different finishes, car flange applications, and horsepower needs, but they all deliver on the promise of improved cold starts, snappy throttle response and overall drivability benefits thanks to improved fuel control and self-learning air/fuel mixture control. The next step in really getting the most out of a Sniper EFI system is to have it control the ignition timing.
The HyperSpark CD Ignition delivers a series of high energy sparks at lower rpm to ensure full combustion of the fuel mixture. The CDI easily plugs into the Sniper EFI system, though to take advantage of the electronic timing control, the HyperSpark distributor is required.
“Holley designed the Hyperspark ignition to complement the Sniper EFI,” explained Matthew Lunsford from Holley. “The Sniper has the ability to control ignition timing and the Hyperspark ignition system provides the high voltage spark, plus the distributor is designed to provide accurate trigger signals to the EFI’s computer.”
The Hyperspark Ignition is a capacitive discharge design meaning it produces a spark with very high voltage from cranking to redline rpm. The ignition system, including its matching E-core coil, deliver a jolt of 135mJ of energy coupled with over 500 primary volts. Keep in mind, a stronger spark is only part of the overall equation when it comes to ignition and timing control. The timing of the spark, in relation to the piston’s position on the compression stroke, is imperative to the combustion process and performance of any engine.
The efficient Hyperspark Coil has a built-in mount and plug-in harness.
However, the perfect ignition timing setting is a moving target as engine rpm, fuel quality and engine loads require different timing values, which is why older distributors were equipped with a mechanical advance.
Before electronics, distributors were tasked with altering the ignition timing through the use of a mechanical advance made up of weights and springs that altered the timing through centrifugal force. Crude by today’s standards, but effective for its time and on millions of engines. However, the electronic technology and adjustability of the Hyperspark system is much more effective. “Letting the Sniper control the ignition timing really completes the circle of modern performance with fuel injection for older engines,” Lunsford added.
Running the Hyperspark distributor allows you to take advantage of the Sniper's ignition control capabilities in the most plug-and-play fashion. There are several advantages that Holley designed into their Hyperspark Distributor starting with the use of a Hall-effect pickup. This style pickup is extremely accurate for precise timing control, has no inherent retard like a common magnetic pickup, and doesn’t produce any sort of electric noise that could interfere with other electronics.
“Holley really made it easy to set up the Hyperspark distributor so the Sniper can control the timing,” Lundsford said. “Other systems require a two-piece rotor to set up the phasing and reference angle which can get a bit tricky. The Hyperspark Distributor is supplied with a unique, phasing cap tool that allows you to easily drop in the distributor and position the rotor and housing right where it needs to be fire up the engine and have the Sniper take over from there.”
Holley offers their HyperSpark distributors in a natural aluminum finish or a trick satin black model. The HyperSpark distributor does require a dedicated HyperSpark CDI box. The distributors are built for the long haul with a sealed ball bearing guide, Hall-effect pickup, wire retainer and melonized gear. Holley offers the distributor for most domestic V8s and more.
Wiring the HyperSpark system is also a plug-and-play affair and there is even a relay wired into the harness to ensure a proper voltage supply to the ignition. Once connected, you simply go back into the setup wizard on the Sniper’s handheld controller and select the HyperSpark Distributor option followed by selecting your wide-open Throttle timing target and the idle timing. Once everything is set, you can make adjustments to the ignition timing without ever opening the hood.
“Being able to control the idle timing through the Sniper is a big benefit for different engine builds, especially when you get into higher compression or a larger camshaft,” Lundsford said. “Also, if you’d like to really dig into a custom curve, you can download the free Sniper software and create a 31x31 spark table and even setup a vacuum advance.”
Holley makes positioning the distributor and rotor easy with this exclusive phasing cap. Once the distributor is installed at TDC, this cap slides over the rotor then you simply rotate the position of the housing. Once the cap is seated to the distributor, simply tighten the hold-down clamp and install the cap and wires. That’s it – the trigger/reference signal is set!
Holley now offers HyperSpark Master Kits which include the powerful CD ignition, Coil, Billet Distributor and a complete harness. Billet Distributors are supplied with a cap and wire retainer, a heavy-duty gear and the easy-to-use reference angle setup cap. Models are available for Chevy, Ford, Pontiac, Chrysler, Jeep and other engines in a black or natural finish.
“The Sniper EFI gives you control over the fuel delivery and thanks to the HyperSpark Ignition system, the advanced timing control really delivers the full circle of modern engine management benefits,” he said. Plus, by sticking with components designed by the same company, if you do have a tech question about the setup or use, it’s easier to call one or write to one tech line to get the right answer.
Once everything is connected, you’ll need to go into the Sniper’s Wizard setup screens and select the HyperSpark Distributor option and set a wide-open timing setting (total timing) followed by an initial (idle) timing value. The Sniper will create a timing curve and you can easily tune-in the system from the comfort of the driver’s seat!