Junk Yard Genius.com Ignition Upgrade, AMC Jeep '76-'77 V-8 Engines
The Bad News First
The biggest problems with the '76 & '77 AMC Jeep Ignition is it was manufactured by Prestolite.
Prestolite manufactured a distributor with a 'Hall Effect' trigger. This means there is a full 12 volts going to the trigger, and no aftermarket module or common factory module will work with it.
Prestolite also made the distributor with a plastic vacuum advance canister that is guaranteed to fail as the gasoline vapors from the vacuum source (intake manifold) condense in the plastic.
Add to that mix, intense engine bay heat, petroleum 'crud' collection on the outside, and age, and you have a part guaranteed to fail in the shortest possible time.
The Prestolite ignition module was a very weak and poorly designed unit (as most first generation are).
Prestolite built that ignition as a 'Stand Alone', there are no upgrades in later year models, so there are no updated parts we can adapt for use on this particular ignition.
This means no quick change for better parts like there are for GM, Ford & Chrysler Ignitions.
Now, for the bad news... There are NO UPGRADES for the Prestolite ignition in AMC V-8 Engines I'm Aware Of...
Now, for the good news...
The AMC V-8 Engine was used with a variety of ignition systems... and with the Prestolite being a 'Stand Alone' system added as an after thought, it's easy to remove.
That means you can change the entire ignition system over rather easily to one of the other ignitions AMC/Jeep used through the years.
The 'Best' upgrade right now is the '78-'79 Jeep V-8 Motorcraft/ DuraSpark Ignition.
Available at junk yards, swap meets, discount parts stores everywhere.
Uses all stock parts from one sorce or another so parts are available everywhere.
Infinitely Reliable, Upgradeable and Tunable, this ignition system is the workhorse that powers millions of Jeeps (all Jeeps,'78 to '90) and millions more Ford vehicles (all Ford, '76 to '91), so replacment parts aren't going away anytime soon! and billions of quick starts daily can't be wrong!
There are other options,...
The '73 & Older Jeeps were equipped with Delco Points type ignitions.
This Delco Distributor can be use with the braker points to trigger a virety of aftermarket modules, Including MSD's 6 Series Modules.
These Delco Braker Points distributors can also be easily upgraded with more modern distributor caps, rotors, electronic triggers, ect.
Sence this is the same type of Delco distributor used in GM vehicles for years, everyone makes something for them.
Here is the link for my version of the upgrade...
Cost is about $25, but that doesn't include the Delco Breaker Points type distributor.
There are also Aftermarket Manufacturers cranking out replacment distributors, but most rely on some sort of proprietary parts that only the manufacturer sells.
This leaves you stranded until the often very costly replacment parts arrive, if the manufacturer even still makes the parts you need or the manufacturer is still in buisness.
The inital cost of these aftermarket units is VERY HIGH!
Anywhere from $400 to $600 (usd) while a Motorcraft remanufactured replacment distributor from most discount auto parts stores is well under $100 (usd).
(The last one I purchased was $78. including tax.)