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For authoritative answers, we need people like Prof Fate, BWA, PdL, Larry LS, Russell Sheldon and others on hand. I know that Russell in particular has often used very potent HO motors in competition winning 1/32 cars.

In the meantime, I'll hazard a few comments.
Some of the specialized HO motors are immensely powerful little beasts that will knock the average home set Mabuchi into a cocked hat! My understanding is that they use a 1.5mm motor shaft as opposed to the 2mm used in the larger motors. If HO gears were used, the possible incompatibility might be shifted to the axle/wheels - this I am not at all sure of. The 1.5mm shaft can be sleeved with something like hypodermic needle tubing in order to fit standard 1/32 pinions. I hope some of those other guys can expand on this.

In another direction, the 1/32 Monogram F1s of the time used a slim Mabuchi FT13UO motor which, to my eyes, produced some fine looking cars with no obvious bulges. My recollection is that their gears wer a little smaller than currently used and equivalents might be still available from US sources. I think the current SCX motors are equivalent in size and might be worth investigating as an alternative route.

I am not too sure of any of this, but I hope it will stimulate discussion.

EDITED on the basis of Russell's later post in order to correct motor shaft diameter originally misquoted at 1.6mm.
It is 1.5mm
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