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Does Your Corvair Need an Electronic Ignition?

Updated on October 21, 2009

Petronix or not?

Many Corvair owners will switch from the stock ignition points so common in the 60s, which are easy to adjust, for a more modern electronic ignition system costing over $100. The most common by far is the Petronix system. Basically, this system is really electronic points, since you remove the old points and replace them with the special computerized parts provided. In some cases, you may also need to upgrade to their very powerful coil for the system to work (this is with the Igniter II system). You may also need to upgrade existing spark plug wires from 7mm to 8mm or so.

The process is relatively simply, the hardest part is finding the 12V wire from the ignition and using another wire to bypass the resistor and hook up directly to the coil. There is also some confusion about the Igniter I, whether one needs to bypass the resistor (usually covered with cloth). With the Igniter II, this must be done.

Okay. As a Corvair owner you have spent over $100 for the product, hooked it up, and whamo! The car does start.  This usually happens. However, if not hooked up correctly, the same will occur but after driving a mile or two, the car will suddenly just die. You try to start it and it just turns over and over and over. Why?  The cause most likely is that the coil is NOT getting the full 12V that is needed, and after driving, it overheats causing the points to fail until they cool off for 15-20 min. Once it happens, that is all one can do until one is sure the coil is receiving the full 12V.


The only benefit is that over time you will not need points, since there is nothing to wear out with the Petronix.  Cars with this system start as easy and as reliable as cars with the old technology of points. A set of points is WAY cheaper - less than $15 and last for a considerable time.

Having a very powerful coil does not make your car start better, starting is starting, as long as the minimum spark strength is there, it should start. There is no performance differences in normal driving use.

I have a Petronix in my 67 and regular points in my 66. From a starting perspective, there is no way to tell the difference. Both start up easy. The down side with a Petronix is that they can just fail for no real reason, it has happened, and your car will just turn over but not start. With points, they will fail also, but only if their condition is nearly getting bad or other reason.


Stay with stock points unless there is some reason not to. 


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