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1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500

Upgrading the Ignition System

Upgrading your ignition system is not only extremely simple to do, but can result in some immediate performance gains as well as remove the need to fart around with points in your distributor (if so equipped). Mum's Spitfire was originally equipped with a Lucas electronic distributor that was known for having problems. In the years that passed someone eventually bodged some wires and replaced it with a simple points based distributor.

Here you can see the old distributor, plug wires and coil.

You want to take a good closeup photo to help you remember the configuration of the plug wires. Four cylinder motors are pretty easy to remember, but there's nothing more frustrating than diagnosing your screw up if you get them in the wrong order.

Now when it comes to distributors I've quit messing around and just hit up Jeff at Advanced Distributors (tell him I sent you!). Nobody's work is better than his when it comes to distributors, and if you get the kit he'll curve it specifically for your car/build. In this photo is the set of plug wires that came in his kit ready for installation.

Here's the front side of the new distributor.

And also the back side of the new distributor.

As with the distributor, note the wiring connections on the old coil.

Now, I'm a bit cautious when replacing ignition parts. I prefer to replace one part, test the car, and then replace the next one, testing as I go. At this point I've replaced the coil with the one in Dave's kit and tested the car. Next is installing the distributor and testing it. Rather than use the old iring connects & ballast resistor, simply connect the two long wires from the distributor directly to the coil. You also want to ensure that the new distributor is aligned exactly the same way as the one you removed. It should be "close" enough to start the car, but you'll likely have to adjust the timing/advance with the new system.

Here's a picture displaying some of the old wiring (bodging) as well as the new electrical connectors for the distributor. In addition to changing the Distributor, Coil, and Plug wires I also wound up changing the plugs as well. With a pertronics ignition, good wires and a higher power coild you can even widen the plug gap a bit. I recommend testing this out on the car so that you can get an optimal gap for your engine.

Final steps are getting the timing/advance precisely set. Once you're done the car should feel decidedly quicker!

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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