Chevy Camaro started slow in '65, but it's turning heads now; Camaro! From Challenger to Champion, By Gary L. Witzenburg. Princeton, N.J.: Automobile Quarterly Publications. 216 pp. $29.95.

The young man about to get out of the Navy, the high-school grad, the 24 -year-old stock clerk, bank teller, or budding businessman. What do they all have in common?

Many of them had, and may still have, a glint in their eyes for -- a Camaro.

Since its entry into the pony-car market in 1965, the Chevrolet Camaro has captured the imagination of a generation of car buyers just as did the Chevy Corvette, except that the Camaro was a lot cheaper to buy.

The car had style, it had zip, it had image.

''Camaro! From Challenger to Champion'' tells the story of the car from its inception in the summer of 1964 as a hoped-for competitor to the hot-selling Ford Mustang up to the totally new '82s. Its marketplace reception in 1965, however, was less than dramatic. In February 1970 a surprisingly beefed-up new Camaro was put in the showroom and it turned heads wherever it went.

The writer, Gary L. Witzenburg, a young engineer in the mid- and late-1960s when he worked for Chevrolet, bought one of the second-generation Camaros (he still owns it) and asserts: ''It's the only car I've owned that I've never tired of.''

This is the story of the nameplate, including racing -- the whole bit.

It's a picture book as much as anything else. Indeed, it captures the exciting life span of the Camaro right up to the completely redesigned '82s, including the Berlinetta and Z-28.

Appendixes list the engine availability by year, colors, production figures, sales, road-test performance, racing record, and year-to-year specifications.

The book is aimed at the car buff; specifically, the Camaro buff.

I just wish some of the pages hadn't been printed upside-down. After all, the hard-color, glossy-paper treatise carries a sticker price of $29.95.

Even so, it's one more feather in the collective cap of the staff of Automobile Quarterly, which has been producing high-quality automotive books for years.

The next time, please, turn over some of those pages.

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