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Notes on MK1 16V Distributor Options

The problem: there’s bugger all clearance from the brake master cylinder setup in Mk1 16Vs when using the standard KR/9A distributor and cap.

The distributor is now on the Rear RHS of the head, this can lead to clearance problems between the HT Leads and Brake Lines. Original KR/9A Caps can, and often are used, however this gives very little clearance so you may decide to change it to be on the safe side. There are various options which give better, safer clearance.

Below are some of the options that have been suggested on VW forums and peoples personally experiences. There’s a variety of ways round the issue, some may have not yet come to light.

Ways round the issue:
  • Change the Alternator for one with a different cap layout.
  • Blank the offending Master Cylinder outlet and use a T-Piece to split a brake line from the other side.
  • Change Distributor Caps.

1. Alternative Distributors
  • An Audi 6A distributor can be used, using a standard 6A cap which exits at 90 degrees as the ABF cap does. (As used by ‘mk1’ on the mk1OC).

2. Alternative Caps
  • Peugeot 205 GTi 1986-1990 Bosch Intermotor part no.45830.
    This exits at 90 deg to the std cap, pointing forwards. Requires altering of the HT leads
    [Taken from Riley’s FAQ on CGTI]
  • Bosch 03.041 (or equivalent) from a 1.0litre Renault 5 (72-81) or 1.3litre Fiat Strada.
    [Suggested by ‘Hitty’ on the mk1OC]
  • Modified ABF Cap
Here are some images comparing 16V ABF caps to the KR/9A cap. Bosch (VAG) and aftermarket (GS&F), The white circles show the location 'steps' which rotationally locate the caps:



Main differences between the Bosch (VAG) caps being outer black shrouding, but also the Bosch ABF cap has a different internal contact design. Either way it doesn’t matter, both Bosch and aftermarket ABF caps (in this case GS&F) can be used no problems.

The ABF cap WILL fit on the standard KR/9A distributor with no modifications, but only in this orientation:


I wanted it pointing upwards, like so:


Simple, cut out the location step in the cap, I did it roughly with a Stanley knife as it was all I had to hand, you could dremel or similar to make it neater:


To locate the distributor cap rotationally, moulding features in both the Bosch and aftermarket (see images above) can be lined up with the notch originally intended for the location step:


As per images above, to clamp the cap on there are various options, I chose the quickest, 'mk1' on the Mk1OC added lugs to the distributor so it could be screwed into place as in the std ABF set up.

The original mounting clips can be moved round the base of the distributor 90 degrees to line up with the screw mounting lugs on the ABF cap, with a small amount of bending the clips clip onto the lugs:


Now connect the HT leads.

Original layout:


Layout on adjusted ABF cap:


It would be just as easy to have the distributor cap pointing towards the front of the car, but adjust the layout of the HT leads on the cap as appropriate.

Hey presto, tons of clearance!



The standard leads can be used without modification and the adjustments required to the ABF cap are minimal. It is quick converting it straight back to the straight exit cap if required.

Now sit back and have a cup of tea. Or in may case drive into London and break down, but that’s another story and not distributor cap related.

Dave (‘ManicGTI’)

James (‘Mk1_Driver’), Neil (‘Riley’), ‘Hitty’, ‘mk1’

Mk1 Owners Club:
Club GTI:

Mk1 16V Distributor Options

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