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A lot of the noise comes from the gears - how well they mesh, and what they are made of makes a difference, metal gears seem to be louder. Greasing them can quieten em, and oiling all the wheel bearings also quietens a car generally. Have a Fly Ferrari 512 which sounded like it was carrying a bag of nails, replacing the crown gear and pinion, and reducing the rear axle slop with washers, cured it, tho its still not as quiet as cars with plastic pinions and crowns.

The material the car body is made of can resonate, you can definately hear it on some hard plastics, for example proteus lamborghini, and mrrc porsche 908.

plastic detailing not secured properly can add to the noise too.

different motors also make different amounts of sound, but I think the above factors contribute more to the level and quality of the sound.
 
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