This paper presents the initial stages of an ongoing research program to develop testing and modelling procedures for investigating the performance of impact energy absorption structures. The components are loaded in three-point bending and compared with an existing automotive side impact beam to assess their performance. This paper presents the work carried out on the existing side impact beams. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was used to model these characteristics. The beams were tested using quasi-static and dynamic experiments, the latter experiments being performed using a Drop Weight Test (DWT) rig. The test results were then compared with those obtained from static and dynamic FEA along with a prediction for static behaviour obtained from plastic analysis theory. Ansys v5.4 was used for the static FEA while LS-Dyna3D v940 was used for the dynamic FEA.It was found that, for the loading conditions and material type used, the plastic theory offered a reasonable first approximation of the beam's static behaviour while FEA provided accurate predictions for both static and dynamic conditions. The beam's dynamic behaviour was similar to its static response but with a superimposed response due to vibrations of the beam. This suggests that the failure mode did not change, and that the influence of strain rate was not significant, for the impact speeds considered.