Below is a timeline of legislation that affects vintage logbook history, as best as we can work out from the evidence available to us. Also at the end is DVLA publication (INF57) with some interesting history.
The ‘Motor Car Act’ 1903 (brought into force from 1st Jan 1904) mandated all motor cars to be registered. However neither ‘Motor Cars’ or ‘Motor Cycles’ were defined. This was administered by the Council in which the driver resided. Entries were kept in 2 logs. In 1905 a third log was added for heavy vehicles. There was variation Council to Council so we have to generalise a little. But in short all vehicles were registered, Cars, Bikes, Lorries, Traction Engines, Buses etc. A Registration Certificate was then issued, for a fee, not dis-similar to marriage certificates.
The ‘Roads Act 1920’ established the ‘Road Fund Licence’ and introduced Tax Discs.
It also required councils to register and allocate a separate numbers to each vehicle at the time of licencing. The first proper logbook was issued as of 1st Jan 1921 replacing the previous Certificate. This was split between the R.F.12 for private vehicles and the R.F.42 for commercial vehicles. By now it was also decided that the ‘keeper’ should appear on the logbook for legal reasons.
Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 1924
1924 – the R.F.12 and the R.F.42 combined to become the R.F.60
The Road Traffic Act 1934 reintroduced the 30mph limit for built up areas, made the driving test compulsory and strengthened insurance legislation for drivers. Log books started to have wording to highlight the insurance requirements written in.
1937 saw the end of the link between vehicle tax and road construction and Road Tax became Vehicle Excise Duty. (or Car Tax).
Sep 1939 to 1942 was the first petrol rationing
Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 1941
Petrol withdrawn for private use in 1942, for fairly obvious reasons.
1945 petrol was on sale again but rationed until 1950
‘Vehicles Excise Act’ 1949
Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 1949
Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 1955
Jan to may 1957 saw Fuel rationing due to the Suez crisis.
Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 1957
‘Vehicles Excise Act’ 1962.
1962 – Buff logbooks became green logbooks.
Road Vehicles (Excise) Regulations 1962
Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 1964
1965 (ish) the R.F.60 became the V.E.60
1965 DVLC was set up at Swansea, taking over from the county/borough councils
Road Vehicles (Excise) Regulations 1966
Logbooks from 1967 onwards no longer had provision for ‘Road Tax’ stamps.
Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 1971
‘Vehicles Excise Act’ 1971
1974 saw the first V5 issued, while the VE60 continued to be used.
Then it was the era of the computerised DVLC system which was phased in during the 70’s.
R.F.60 and V.E.60 logbooks could be upgraded to the new V5 until 1983 when the option was closed.
In 1990 the DSA was created and the DVLC became the DVLA.
From 1st July 2005 the V5 Logbook was no longer valid. It was replaced by the blue/green V5C registration document which was in turn then replaced by the red/pink V5C on 15th Aug 2010.
Here is a DVLA publication in PDF from sometime after 2002, with a brief history of registration. This no longer seems to be available on www.gov.uk but has some useful and relevant info. Just click on the link below:-