Electronic Ignition

The 59 Edsel didn't make trouble at first, but than the ignition didn't work well. Condensor and contacts have been replaced and the engine was running smooth again, but not for long. The distributor mechanism was badly worn (too much play), so I decided to replace it.

While I was thinking about modernizing the ignition system, I found a test report of electronic ignition systems in a magazine. The simple models still use the contacts but increase their life time by switching the current by electronic components. The more advanced systems are controlled by magnetic sensors.

The following system was the only one that completely disappears under the distributor cap. Only one additional wire is required to power the module.


An English and a German installation manual promised an easy installation. And it was really as simple as promised.

First distributor cap, finger and condenser are removed. Then the contacts are replaced by the module. One side is fixed with a screw, on the other side a small nose under the base plate fits into the hole for the second screw.

A plastic ring, containing one magnet per cylinder, is put on the shaft. A small piece of plastic that comes with the module is used to assure the correct distance between plastic ring and module when the screw is tightened. A drop of paint or special glue should be used to secure that screw.

Now finger and cap can be re-installed, and the additional wire must be connected. The last step is to start the engine and check the ignition timing with a stroboscope light. On my 59 Edsel the timing was perfect and no adjustment was necessary. The 58 Edsel required some adjustment after installation.

The only weakness should not be kept secret: when the engine is not running for some time, ignition must be off, otherwise the electronics module could be destroyed.

First I was concerned about the high temperature that can develop under the older Edsel's hood, but since the systems were installed in spring 1999, none of the cars showed an ignition problem.


By the way, other owners reported that their installation was more difficult because mechanical modifications had to be made. But that depends on the make of the distributor unit.