I am currently using the Pertronix HEI on my 289 (and will retain it for the 331). Made a huge difference over points that were running perfectly (as perfect as they could). Summit usually sells quality components under their own name. Do some Internet searches though.
Pretty much anything with the store brand name is going to be cheap China or Taiwan made product built for a customer with no funds to buy a better product. There are exceptions, but not many I've seen.
NAPA has one for a 78 F100 w/ 302 for about 70 bucks rebuilt. You can hunt through a salvage yard and find the whole setup in no time down in these parts for about 35 bucks. It's as good or better than the part linked above, and you can buy service parts anywhere on the road. The ignition amplifier is remotely mounted so you don't get heat soak from the engine or vibrations on the electronic components effecting performance and life of parts. HEI, in stock form with GM parts, can break up at higher rpm. These things tend to be made with the cheapest parts available and are not the best thing in the world.
The stock Ford stuff is not only cheaper, but is a better system, imo. And, if you want to, you can use it to trigger an MSD6 ignition box in the future.
If you just want a more reliable ignition and a better spark, it's hard to beat the $erformance ratio of the stock Ford stuff.
I am currently running an HEI distributor, granted I don't have a ton of miles on my engine, but i works well for my expectations. I don't recall what brand I have but got it through some race shop I believe in Ames IA. It was simple to install, I ended up having Rocketman redo my tach so it would work with that distributor also and most importantly, the cap is blue.
Found this on CL http://mansfield.craigslist.org/pts/2302022527.html same as the 1st dis I posted summit brand $75 Im pick it up tomorrow. I was running pertronix but It died on me so $75 is half price and that works good for me. This Is just going to be a one summer motor by next year my 408 will be complete.
Concerning Summit parts, I have never had an issue with any parts I have ordered from them and have always had excellent customer service. Given most of the parts I order are engine accessory items such as water pumps, fuel pumps, plug wires, etc. and never internal engine parts. That said, most of these parts, unless you are just looking for a Brand name on every single part you use, are going to be made by many of the same manufacturers of the well known names. By the way, Trick Flow is a Summit Racing company, and I hear people like their products fairly well.....
I live near Summit's headquarters in Tallmadge, OH and buy all my stuff there. A long time ago I had a problem with a Summit "brand" part and I got to know the customer service guys really well. One guy in particular ended up becoming a pretty good friend of mine. He works inside sales there now. He'll tell anyone who will listen: "By all means buy ALL your parts at Summit. Just stay away from Summit "brand parts." He bases this on quantity of returns because of defects.
Now I've been hearing good things about their budget "custom" paints. I have yet to try those but would consider doing so.
Paint defects won't leave you stranded on the side of the road.
i purchased a summit Distributor a few months ago but havent installed it yet and this thread has me concerned.. i have a limited budget and i could upgrade to a mallory hei for $50 what do you guys think about mallory Distributors or should i upgrade to proform for $70
Looks dangerously like a China Procomp.
Like previously mentioned, I had one and the shaft broke. Fortunately the breakdown happened in my driveway and I was able to fish the broken pieces out of my engine.
After that experience I went with a Proform HEI. I thought a little better quality and more dependable.
The problem with the Proform (and possibly other GM converted HEI's) is that being a Chevy design they were originally made to run clockwise. Ford distributors run counter-clockwise. There is a spiral cut in the shaft to "auger" oil to the top distributor bushing. Unfortunately the spiral is cut in the wrong direction for CCW rotation as in a Ford. Shaft seized in the housing. I repaired it once, the second time the Proform malfunctioned I replaced it with a Duraspark distributor and MSD. No problems since.
This is in my 84 F250 with a 460.
*edit* When the HEI was working it worked great. Fast start up, good fuel mileage and easy to adjust the advance curve. Parts available anywhere, late 70's GM. Great design, just not on a Ford.