Overcoming Ignition System Deficiencies in Classic and Vintage Cars

Classic cars are increasingly prone to ignition system deficiencies during winter months. Continuing with our initiative to service the classic, vintage and veteran car market, we explain how to maintain the golden oldies.

Understanding the Market

Cars up to the mid-1970’s were developed on a conventional contact breaker type ignition system which is divided into the primary and secondary circuits.  This is in striking contrast to today’s electronic ignition systems that provide lower emissions, higher mileage, greater reliability and longer life for their components.

The primary circuit runs on the 12V car battery and is operated by the contact breaker points and ignition switch. Whilst the secondary circuit consists of the secondary windings of the coil, coil lead, distributor cap, distributor rotors, spark plug leads and spark plug all of which are susceptible to failure every now and then.

Winter months in particular highlight the deficiencies in the ignition components, especially in a classic, and the problems worsen due to incorrect settings. Most end-users choose to ‘rest’ their classics through the winter months, resulting in serious difficulties when trying to start it again in spring.

For users who tend to use their cars through the winter, the ignition system needs to be in top condition to ensure positive starting and efficient, economical running.

Top Tip

DIYers and end-users are encouraged to carry spare ignition system components in the boot in case of failure. The key components include:

•  Ignition Coil
•  Condenser
•  Rotor Arm
•  Contact Points
•  Distributor Cap

A rule of thumb to follow is to inspect, clean and re-set points every 30,000 miles (or annually, whichever comes first) and renew every 60,000 miles, along with associated components.


Since its launch in May 2015, the Pre-1980’s catalogue feature has successfully addressed the market for classic, vintage and veteran cars. The catalogue now comprises nearly 11,500 parts across 35 different brands that make for a good business opportunity in the winter.

Catering for your Needs

Catering for distress requirements and stocking parts that no one else does or would, the Pre-1980’s catalogue feature offers the following benefits:

•  Easy access to data and availability of parts across branches
•  Same/next-day delivery
•  Seamless lookup on the Car Search section of the F:Drive
•  Paperless cataloguing

Best Sellers

•  33710: Condensor for Triumph Herald Mk1 1.3L (1967-1971)
•  22730V: Contact Set for Ford Capri Mk1 1.6L (1968-1973)
•  44750: Distributor Cap for Austin Maxi Mk1 1.7L (1969-1979)
•  47110S: Rotor Arm for Saab 99 2.0L (1974-1978)

Plus an extensive range of spark plugs, ignition coils, ignition leads sets and car batteries, form part of the multi-branded offering that covers 700,000+ vehicles on the UK roads.


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