A developmental approach was adopted to establish aluminum as a viable body sheet material for vehicle weight reduction. Initially, both the material advantages of aluminum, as well as certain limiting factors for automotive processing were recognized. A major plant trial was conducted and methods of resolving both functional and processing issues evolved. The in-plant tryout and subsequent field evaluation of hood panels produced useful information on forming, welding, metal finishing and painting as well as appearance and functional elements pertinent to product field performance. Panels from this trial were evaluated at intervals during two years of exposure to demanding field conditions. During this same period laboratory efforts resolved remaining, less-critical issues.