May 2007, May 2008 (Improvements)
Electronic Ignition (2007)
This is a common modification for the 'A' & 'B' series engines and there are a number of different kits available. Lumenition is one of the more well known manufacturers of electronic ignition kits and I chose their Optronic unit.
The contact breaker points are replaced with an optical switch and rotor (photo 1) which provide a pulse to a power module. This in turn switches the coil to produce the spark. It is recommended that this unit is used in conjunction with their high energy 6v coil which in turn requires a (very ugly) ballast resistor (photo 2). Fitting instructions are, of course, included with the kit but can also be found on the Lumenition web site.
Although the engine appears to run a little smoother, there is hardly any noticeable improvement in performance – perhaps a little at higher speeds. The main advantage in my opinion is that there is no deterioration between services and it has been completely reliable for over 10 years.
In retrospect, I would perhaps choose the Lumenition Magnetronic unit which completely fits inside the distributor and is therefore a much neater installation. I may even change to that one day.
Sports Coil (2008)
During the winter 2007/2008, although the car was used infrequently, I experienced some difficulty getting it to fire on cold mornings (even after charging the battery). One day it dawned on me that the 6v coil with ballast resistor is usually wired so that the resistor is by-passed during starting giving a 12v 'boost'. I decided to try permanently by-passing the resistor as an experiment and the starting was back to normal (i.e. quick). It bothered me, however, that the 6v coil was permanently being supplied with 12v so I decided to fit a Lucas 12v sports coil (photo 3). Since then the starting has been very reliable.