• Truck Rewind: 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Powered Truck – Russia Was a Tough Mother


    The 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Engine Truck was built specifically to counter the lack of affordable oil-based fuels. Russia/the USSR was cash-strapped after World War II and rebuilding the country without vehicles that can haul was unthinkable. Unfortunately, with much of the government’s budget going towards their nuclear weapons research (Russia’s first nuclear bomb was successfully detonated in 1948), many things regarding the infrastructure of the country were neglected.

    The idea leading up to the creation of the 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Engine Truck came from the dire need of the workers.

    Using a boiler that could be heated by wood, a truck capable of hauling over 6-tons was built. The boiler sat in a space behind the three passenger cabin (which was situated over the front axle) and in front of the cargo area. It was a 14.5-ton vehicle when loaded with water and wood.

    With a gear ratio of 2.22, it is thought that the maximum speed of the 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Engine Truck was around 30 mph. The furnace was specially designed to automatically feed the wood inside, negating the need for a fire-man. Some suggest that, on full boil, the 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Engine Truck made up to 100 horsepower at over 1,200 rpm.

    Trials of the 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Engine Truck had mixed results. The vehicle worked, but only when the water level was constantly maintained. It took around an hour to preheat the boiler before moving and the range, when completely topped off was around 80-kilometers (less than 50 miles).

    The program was abandoned as new fueling resources and the USSR’s financial disposition improved.

    The 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Engine Truck proved the concept for a steam-powered truck was feasible, but impractical. It’s interesting to think about the potential the unique vehicle had. Imagine a vehicle like this being developed and refined over several decades.

    What do you think?


    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    9 thoughts on “Truck Rewind: 1949 NAMI-012 Steam Powered Truck – Russia Was a Tough Mother

    1. Leave it up to the Russians. They are like Mikey, they will “Try Anything”. One of my favorite Top Gear episodes was testing Russian Cold War cars. You will never complain about your car again after seeing what those poor soles had to drive.

    2. Water is too heavy to use as a fuel for steam I am thinking. Wood is too smoky so electric heat could replace that but then you need something to power the electricity. Basically burn the hydrogen in the h20 is what we have today as the modern version

    3. Able to have two of my favorite sounds, a steam engine operating and a whistle blown with steam. I love it! Got to make it to the steam power show next year.

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