I wouldnt say theres any basic things you need to check. Just make sure your car is in good running order and properly maintained. A distributor and cold air arent going to affect the way your car runs anymore than the stock components (for the most part). The things I would suggest is making sure you have clean fluids in the car (trans, brake, oil, coolant, rear diff, etc) as well as regular maintenance items looking to be in good order. Things like spark plugs, wires, belts, hoses, those sorts of things. The 302 is a pretty reliable motor, and unless its been absolutely ragged on, you shouldn't have much for compression problems. You can check it for peace of mind, but if compression was low in one or more cylinder, you'd probably know by the way it runs.
Just start modding... replace those old worn out parts with pretty, new, performance aftermarket parts.