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Distributor Identification on a 1959 Studebaker Lark 6 cylinder

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  • Ignition: Distributor Identification on a 1959 Studebaker Lark 6 cylinder

    I am trying to help one of my friends with her Lark and keep running into questions on the distributor. What kinds of distributors were used in 1959? I have read that the 59 had a Delco distributor but in the parts listings I see autolite and prestolite listings. I have not pulled the distributor and hope not to have to - anyone know what the differences are? Is there a way to tell by looking at the insides? Attached is a picture of the insides of this one.

  • #2
    You are correct a '59 WOULD have originally been a Delco. These 6 cyl. Distributors rarely wear at all and I do not see any reason it would have been changed to a '62, '63 or '64 Prestolite Dist. or an Earlier Year Autolite.

    With that said, since they all Fit, anything CAN happen.
    On Sixes there is no risk of a having to do a difficult job re-installing it. It only goes in ONE way, so you can't miss.
    Just make sure you remove the Dist. Plate to BLOCK Screw (it goes Down), and NOT the Plate to Distributor Octane adjustment screw which goes Up.

    When you pull it, you will see the Nameplate on the side if you have not yet, it say's the Brand and Model.
    Then you can chuck it in your Vice and properly adjust the Points.

    I would Never discard an Older USA Dist. Condenser, with the poor quality of the current Chinese Import Ignition Parts, especially Condenser's, the Original MAY be needed sooner than you think!

    The Correct Parts can be found here:
    https://studebakervendors.com
    Last edited by StudeRich; 04-19-2021, 08:20 PM.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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    • #3
      They appear to have made a switch from Delco to Auto-Lite or at least offered the latter as a mid-year alternative in 1960. I have all Delco components in mine (chassis # 59 S 48392, March 1959 build) but both the Parts and Chassis Service manuals detail both Delco and Autolite.

      Seems unnecessary but it must have been a parts supply issue if not an engineering reason.

      To Rich’s point, the contact points, rotors and condensors available from the “aftermarket” are all a bit suspect. I’m running a new cap, coil and condensor but ended up returning to my OEM points and rotor as the new ones wouldn’t run.

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      • #4
        I had to replace both sets of points in my 63 Avanti's distributor recently due to a condenser failure. The condenser that failed was a replacement Delco part, but I guess the name Delco doesn't mean much anymore. I used a Standard Motor Parts Blue Streak condenser this time, so hopefully this one doesn't fail as my stock of NOS Prestolite points is getting low. Bud

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        • #5
          My 59 came with a Delco distributor but the shop manual and parts books lead me to believe that the Autolite was the stock option and the Delco was available on request. I had to get hold of a supplement to the manual to get more details for the Delco. It appeared to be an oddball with the Delco and most 59's I saw at the time had the Autolite distributor. It looks like it's a package deal sort of thing. You get to choose either Delco or Autolite. Once that decision was made you got the starter and distributor from the same company. I prefer the Delco as the starter is stronger.

          Another point, the later distributors from the OHV sixes didn't play well with the Flathead timing. I tried and found that the advance curve is different and no matter what I did I couldnt get it to run right. I though it was a carb issues at first but after a few carb swaps and tunes it was the distributor. It could have been that I modified so many things nothing would work.

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          • #6
            [QUOTE=NCDave51 /Cut/Delco components in mine (chassis # 59 S 48392, March 1959 build) but both the Parts and Chassis Service manuals detail both Delco and Autolite./Cut/[/QUOTE]

            Dave, I see your Dist date Code is 1959, probably 2= Feb. correct for "Most" '59's.
            Remember that when the Buyer's choose a Product to purchase for a Year Model, they not only bought the "Package"; Dist. Coil, Starter, Voltage Regulator and Generator, but the needed Parts for Sixes AND V8's.

            One exception is, V8 Hawk Models in '59 to '61 that used up '51 to '59 Sedan and Lark Type Early Delco's and maybe a few New stock because of the Tachometer Option on Hawks requiring THAT Delco Dist.
            StudeRich
            Second Generation Stude Driver,
            Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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