Oil pans seem like a simple engine piece that should require no thought. The truth is that the oil pan can be a very vital engine part. Different engine have different needs. If an engine is stroked the oil pan may need to be deeper than stock for rod clearance. If the new pan is deeper the oil pickup should be dropped the same amount of distance. Many other modified engines also use deeper pans that hold more oil. Larger pans mean more oil that will stay cooler and take longer to break down chemically.
Road racers use oil pans that have a lot of baffles built within them to stop the oil from pushing to one side in the middle of a corner. The oil in the pan should always be the deepest in the area where the oil pickup is located. If the pickup sucks air instead of oil the engine can fail from the lack of lubrication. Drag racing cars have the same type of problem, except that the oil pushes to the back of the pan as the car accelerates forward. Once again baffles are used to control which direction the oil can move. Oil pans are also used to significantly raise the power of an engine. Many aftermarket oil pans use screens or windage trays in the upper section of the pan to stop oil from splashing on to the crank. Oil splashing on the crankshaft will cost the engine horsepower because the crank will have more resistance to rotation. It is similar to trying to move quickly or run through water. This is the reason for crankshafts having knifed front edges to help them “cut” through the oil. This is another reason that performance engines want vacuum in the oil pan, for less wind drag. In v configured engines the pan can be sectioned off to share two cylinders. These sections are especially used with dry sump style oiling systems. Performance oil pans place windage trays very close to the crankshaft, o minimize turbulence. A flowing design should direct the oil straight to the oil pickup for the dry sump. A good amount of power can be gained in a properly designed oil pan, especially in high RPM engines.