Champion Spark Plugs - history and products
Albert Champion was a Frenchman who immigrated to the United States in 1889 to race bicycles and motorcycles. He also set up a side business, manufacturing and selling spark plugs in Boston, Massachusetts, as a means of income. William Durant, the founder of General Motors in the USA, spotted Champion’s potential and moved him and his operation to Flint, Michigan, in 1904. The Champion Ignition Company was formed.
- Over the next few years, Champion lost control of the company, he left and subsequently setup the AC spark plug company in 1908. GM’s production of motor vehicles grew significantly and GM Corp purchased the AC spark plug company in 1909 to service their ever increasing needs.
- Aircraft spark plug production was started by AC in 1916 and became a major part of the business.
- Champion started a very well respected decorative tile production company in the 1920’s, the obvious connection being the ceramics and kilns used in both spark plugs and tiles. Repeated heating and cooling of the kilns used would cause damage and shortened life of the kilns, keeping them in use permanently, alternating between spark plug and tile production, was the logical option.
- By 1933 the requirements for spark plugs were so high that tile production was ended and the kilns were used to produce spark plugs full time.
- After a legal battle brought about by Albert Champion’s original investors in 1922, GM were forced to give up the Champion brand name. The GM subsidiary adopted the AC brand name whilst the original Champion Ignition Company backers set up the Champion Spark Plug Company in competition.
- Champion Spark Plugs celebrated their centenary in 2007, although the company has existed in various guises for the early part of its life.
- Champion was purchased by Cooper industries in 1989 and subsequently Federal Mogul purchased Cooper’s automotive business in 1998, this included Champion amongst other brands and product lines.
Champion have a long and successful history in all areas of automotive ignition. A strong racing pedigree over the years has helped to keep the brand at the forefront of the marketplace. As well as motor car applications, Champion excel in producing small engine, industrial, aviation and marine spark plugs and ignitors.
Notable successes for Champion ignition products include:
- Champion ignitors fitted to Concorde’s Rolls Royce engines
- The original Ford Model T spark plug, Champion X, still in production today
- Richard Noble’s 1984 land speed record of 1050 km/h (max)
- Fernando Alonso’s Renault F1 championship wins in 2005/2006.
- Almost all racing teams since 1950 have specified Champion ignition products
- Almost total dominance in F1 and NASCAR
- More than 400 Grand Prix victories to date.
- Champion supply OE parts for 8 out of 10 new cars
The Champion brand continues to manufacture high quality Spark Plugs and Glow Plugs for a wide variety of applications. Sadly, the UK based Champion production facility at Upton, Wirral was closed in 2006, at one time it had employed around 1000 people, it had been in operation for over 30 years, since 1968. Production was subsequently transferred to Italy, perhaps logically, with Champion plugs being OE for most Ferrari and Ducati models amongst others. Other main Champion Spark Plug production facilities are in Mexico and the USA.
An increasing proportion of Champion’s market share has been taken by Japanese brands over the last 30 or so years, perhaps as a direct result certain parts have been retired from Champion’s range. We have observed this most notably, and sadly, with certain Champion Racing Spark Plugs over the last 10 years. Regardless of that, Champion continue to make a large number of niche products with no competitor’s equivalent being available. Champion are also second to none in the range and quality of their small engine, marine, vintage vehicle and Industrial spark plugs.
Happily, we are able to keep virtually all of the Champion UK Spark Plug range in stock, plus a number of non UK parts besides. Stock levels and availability can vary dramatically, backorder from Champion’s EU headquarters in Kontich, Belgium, is occasionally required. For that reason we would suggest ordering special or unusual parts within plenty of time.
Although we carry the most commonly requested Champion Glow Plugs in stock, it is sometimes necessary for us to order from Champion UK and occasionally a backorder from Belgium is required.
We welcome trade enquiries for Champion Industrial Spark Plugs and Ignitors. Some parts are kept in stock but as these products are usually high value and large quantity they will normally be ordered on request. Please email your precise requirements for price and availability.
Products in the Champion range stocked by Sparkplugs Ltd:
- Copper Core. Still the performance standard and the number-one selling spark plug in the world, guaranteeing original performance for millions of older vehicles.
- Double Copper. The unique twin copper core technology pioneered by Champion and adopted as original equipment by the world’s vehicle manufacturers.
- Multi-Electrode. Champion’s twin and triple electrode design extends spark life as demanded by leading manufacturers worldwide.
- Platinum. Very high performance plug technology delivering outstanding erosion resistance to extend plug life and increases engine output.
- Double Platinum. Features platinum ground and centre electrodes for long life and stable operating temperatures, as specified by high-end manufacturers including Mercedes Benz.
- Iridium. Iridium tipped centre electrode plus a platinum pad on the ground electrode and unique Champion exclusive Heat-Active™ alloy for erosion resistance, long life and stable operating temperatures.
- Ribbed Core Nose. Highly innovative ribbed ceramic insulator developed for specific OE applications to deliver exceptional cold starting and fouling resistance.
- Champion EON. With just 10 references, the Champion Eon range covers more than 85% of all post 1990 cars in the entire European car parc. Seven major technological advances including ribless ‘racing style’ C7000 anti-flashover ceramic insulators and wide gaps for greatly improved performance deliver exceptional cold-start combustion efficiency, superior control of exhaust emissions and sharper throttle response in modern high-compression engines.