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Ignition Switch Bypass Help - '61 Bugeye


Freshman Member
Just bought a '61 Bugeye with a 948cc engine. It's a beautiful car, but it didn't come with a key or a wiring harness installed. I wanted to see if the engine runs, or if I need to pull it for a rebuild before going about installing the new wiring harness (which is a touch overwhelming..).
I was wondering if you guys could give me some advice on a quick way to fire the engine-? I have new Champion N5C plugs, new Lucas rotor, good wires & cap, and appropriately gapped points. I also fitted a new electric fuel pump, Lucas sport coil, and battery. Here's the way I hooked it up - which is not working - can you please tell me what I did wrong - ?

Bat (+) to top of starter solenoid and (+) side of coil
Bat (-) to chassis ground
(-) side of coil to side of distributer with butt connector
Bottom side of starter solenoid connected to starter motor
Coil is connected to distributer cap & cap connected to spark plugs with ignition wires

I'm obviously missing something because it doesn't work. Do I have to route the power through the voltage regulator, and if so, can you break it down for me, because I'm sick of failing - ?
Thanks for your help, I appreciate your time!



Darth Vader
Country flag
Hello MAS, you might have to give us alittle more info. what is it not doing. does it not crank? if it cranks is there no spark? I think your basic ignition and starting (cranking circuit) is there but are you pulling in the solenoid with some kind of switch. You don't need voltage regulation to make it run off the battery for just alittle while. If it turns over, and you have battery power to your coil, is the coil any good, is there something wrong with the distributor. Are the points set right, does it have a good condenser in it. are the points shorted out accidentally or for some other reason? Dave.


Jedi Warrior
Country flag
Is your wire from the points in the distributor connected to the neg side of the coil? Don't leave power connected to the coil for long if the engine is not running, it will burn your points (if you have the points wire connected to the coil also). Its best to just connect the power wire to the coil as soon as your ready to try and fire the engine. Like Dave says we need to know what symptoms of not firing you are getting before we can diagnose any further.


Freshman Member
It seems as if I don't have any spark - it sounds as if it wants to start, but never actually fires up. So, it cranks but won't turn over. The starter motor turns as it should, but I can't seem to get any spark to the plugs.
My car is the early type of solenoid with the pull start, I don't have a switch hooked up to it - I connect the positive & negative battery leads and then pull the cord. I've noticed that after a minute or two the coil becomes very hot, so I don't keep it connected very long.
I'm certain the coil is good (it's brand new), points are set right (used a feeler gauge), not entirely sure about the distributor or condenser bc I just got the car, but everything seems to be in order - except there is no vacuum advance (but don't expect that to be a problem given that the rpms are so low at start-up).
I have a 12V test light which confirms power to the (+) side of the coil & top connection at the solenoid. However, when placed at the high voltage top feed of the coil it does not light up when I try to crank (I assume that's because the output is so much greater than 12V).
Planning to troubleshoot a bit more by swapping out the points/condenser with a new set and use a Bosch blue coil.
Thank you again for your advice & time, I really appreciate it! Hope this supplemental info helps...
Last edited:

John Kuzman

Jedi Trainee
Hi MAS -

Couple of suggestions. First, look at the forum lists and you will see a forum dedicated to "Spridgets". That forum focuses on Sprites and Midgets and the folks there are very knowledgeable on the Sprites. Having said that, the stock ignition systems in these cars are all basically the same. If you remove the distributor cap and apply the 12 VDC to the + of the coil, then physically snap open the points, do you see a spark? If no, then perhaps your setup on the points post is grounding out the points. Also possible that your condensor, even if new, is shot.


You may have set the points correctly but since the coil is getting hot I will guess that they really aren't.
Odds are good that when you wired the points you grounded them out (as stated above).
The wire from the coil MUST be UNDER the plastic piece at the points, not above it as I am guessing that you have (a VERY common mistake!)
Hold your test light on the wire going into the distributor (metal part) and crank the engine for a second or two- the light should blink on and off. If it doesn't blink then redo your point wiring.


Freshman Member
Just wanted to thank everyone for their help! I finally got her up & running smoothly - really appreciate your input and suggestions. Our problem ended up being an incorrectly gapped set of points, a bad fuel pump, and an old distributor cap. We also replaced the ignition wires, condenser, and spark plugs along the way, just to rule them out as well.

For anyone who may want to start their car w/o the use of an ignition switch or with the lack of adequate existing wiring, here is our current set-up (note - we installed & are using an electric fuel pump, so if you are using a mechanical one just disregard any of my fuel pump wiring references below):

Battery (+) to top of Starter Solenoid (large gauge battery wire), Fuel Pump, (+) side of Coil
Battery (-) to Chassis ground (big wire), Fuel Pump ground
Coil (-) side to spade connector on side of Distributor [of course you must have ignition wires from Distributor cap to spark plugs, and one from top of Coil to top of Distributor].
To start the car you need to connect the top and bottom halves of the Starter Solenoid. If you have a Bugeye like we do, that means pulling the cord attached to the dash knob with the letter 'S' , which momentarily connects them. If you do not, you can use a screwdriver or a pair of jumper cables to make a connection between the top screw and bottom screw of the Starter Solenoid.

Many thanks again and I hope this info can help someone in the future encountering the same problem as I did.
- Marc
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