Carabela is a moped that was imported to the United States in the mid-seventies to the early eighties. At first glance, one would be inclined to pass it off as another ubiquitous Italian moped (Minarelli V1 engine on a compact tubular frame with 16" wheels). However, upon closer inspection, you will find that it is in fact made in Mexico.

Engine Differences: Carabela vs Minarelli

The engine is a copy (presumably licensed) of the Minarelli V1 made by Acer-Mex. The engine itself is actually subtly different from the Minarelli.

Porting- Carabela has different porting and purportedly has greater torque

**NOTE: Minarelli V1 cylinder kits will NOT work on Carabela engines. Aftermarket cylinder kits don't have the extra casing on the side of the cylinder, and won't cover the massive main transfers on a Carabela engine casing. Case matching by aluminum welding the case transfers, and grinding out the weld to match the Minarelli V1 is possible, but not perfect.

A picture showing the huge ramping on the main transfers of a Carabela cylinder

Shims- Carabela shims are for the most part very different from the V1's shims. As a few examples, the Carabela uses two shims in the place of one Minarelli shim on the pedal shaft. The main drive shaft uses completely different shim placement. Make sure to take note of every shims location when rebuilding the lower case, as the V1 manual isn't going to help much!
Ignition- Carabela uses a larger stator plate though Minarelli electronics (C.E.V.) will fit the plate
Flywheel- Carabela's flywheel is keyed differently from Minarelli, though it will fit. If this is done, the stator plate will need to be modified to correct the timing.
Clutch side cover- Here is where Carabela took a shortcut. The internal end of the clutch lever does not have the flexible steel tab that engages the starter clutch; rather, the clutch shaft itself engages it, causing severe wear on the clutch shaft. A Minarelli cover will bolt on directly in the case of this unit failing.


The frame is quite heavy and should be able to carry a fair amount of weight. The lighting and switches are your standard issue C.E.V. The wiring is refreshingly simple and straight forward. The brake levers are large and sturdy, the clutch lever, unlike other mopeds, is full sized and metal. Carabela was available in a 2 passenger model having a second seat on the parcel carrier and foot pegs on the swing arms. This passenger seat should not be used for large people however, as the parcel carrier is in no way strengthened.

Overall Assessment

Though Mexico almost never comes to mind as a great industrial nation, this bike proves to the contrary. The construction of this bike is of fairly good quality; the finish may not be as good as Motobecane or Peugeot but definitely is on par with most other makes. The chrome is average and will rust if not cared for. The running gear (cables, levers, brakes etc...) is excellent in both workmanship and materials used. The standard C.E.V. electronics are of course easy to maintain and repair. The engine is well built: all the castings and machining appear to be nicely finished. Other than the shortcomings of the starter clutch it is every bit as good as a Minarelli, and with the porting perhaps slightly better.

1977 Carabela Moto-Matic Deluxe taken from