This paper examines how two practical finite elements, a beam element and a triangular plate bending element, can be applied to vehicle design analysis with acceptable accuracy, yet without expensive computer time penalty. These elements have been implemented in a special purpose program for nonlinear stress analysis of automotive structural components. The program employs an initial strain approach, a convected coordinate procedure and an incremental technique to monitor both geometric and material nonlinearities. Three example problems are discussed in detail. The agreement of these solutions with experimental results and experience indicate that the program, with proper modification such as substructuring and interactive graphics, could be adopted as a nonlinear analysis program for production usage.