California or Federal points for my distributor?

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May 16, 2010
Madison, Wisconsin
Hi all -

I finally determined that my manufactured in June of 1973 FJ40 had at one point in its life had its original (centrifugal advanced) distributor swapped with a later year (november 1973 to ??) vacuum advanced distributor.

Went to the parts store to get points and they asked me if I wanted "Federal" or "California emissions"?

I guessed Federal, which was immediatly availible... but the picture of the California Emissions points matched the points in my disty which they would have to order.

What is the difference? Does it matter? Can I use the Federal interchangable with the California ones?

Yeah yeah I know... just go to electronic ignition and be done with it. I am kind of a purest and for now would like to stick to points if I could.
AS far as I know points is points. Pop them in, set the gap, enjoy. I agree on the purist angle myself. My 76 is all stock. My distributor is vacuum RETARD. Since I have repaired the RETARD system I notice a pleasant lowering of RPM, especially at freeway speed. I do not know how to tell if a 40 is a California model, but maybe someone will enlighten us. Keep it pure!!!
Well, I did talk to a sales guy at Spector. He told me points are points as well, but mechanically on my end one fits and the other does not to which he had no response. I don't get why the local parts store offers two different point sets... I trust Spector, but this sales guy only had limited insight.

He told me to tell if your LC is California - there should be a label on the underside of your hood or on your valve cover that states it meets all Federal or California emmision requirements or something like that. My LC has lost it's lables, and he offered no other way to find out.

After further digging, I noticed that carburators can also be Californial or Federal. I suspect it is a joint electrical, intake, and exhaust configuration. Carburators in the Spector catalog are also listed as California/with EGR or Federal/without EGR. I assume EGR valve.

I will keep digging. So far the take away is, got to know what distributor you have in order to get the right points. :bang:

Here are some pics of my points.
What makes you think that is a post-73 dizzy? It sure looks like an EARLIER vac advance dizzy

If it uses the same CAP as the 73 dizzy, then it is NOT a 74 Cali-spec dizzy. 74 Cali-spec uses the same cap as the 75-77 everywhere spec.

And FWIW, the points are different because the earlier style was designed to fit OVER a points tower in the dizzy that the later ones did not have, soooo, you may find that when they order you the 'other' points, they will not install on your dizzy because it has no points tower.

This is why I tell my locals to always try and bring their points with them when they come in; too many with PO mods they don't understand.


Mark A.
"65swb45 What makes you think that is a post-73 dizzy? "

Spector offers points for the following years and configs:
  • OEM Points - Fits 1958-1974
  • OEM Points - Fits 1975 & later as well as 9/73-9/77 California
  • OEM Points - Fits 1/75-- General Non-USA

Not knowing any better and nobody asking my manufactured year, I asked for a 73' cap and rotor and it fit my dizzy. The points did not fit and when I called back they guy told me that pre 9/73 was two piece for the centrifugal advanced. I confirmed that my ignition is conventional and not the introduced 1974 semi-transistorized.

From all this, looking a Spectors dizzy pictures online, and looking in my Haynes model, I currently concluded that I have a post 9/73 offered distributor.

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