The World of Camaro

The Camaro is an iconic American car to be sure, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. For some, the Camaro, especially in its more recent iterations, is a bit too much of a brawler. But for faithful adherents to the cult of Camaro, it's the apex of American pony-car greatness. It's no small task to compile a reference book that is both entertaining and useful, but John Gunnell and Jerry Heasley have taken on just such a project. The result is a large, hardbound compendium of all things Camaro entitled, The Story of Camaro.

The authors begin by tracing the origins of the Camaro to the cars that inspired it: Chevrolet's own Corvette and Corvair, as well as Ford's fabulously well-received Mustang. The early part of the book is peppered with unique insights into the corporate culture that spawned the car. It's notOn a Clear Day You Can See GM, but it's still a treat to read the background information in the book's first chapter, even if you're not a Camaro person. The second chapter details the development of the first Camaro and its place in the American automotive landscape of the late 1960s. Again, this is a great read for any car-guy. The photography throughout the book is engaging and very well done.

Further chapters are devoted to covering each generation of Camaro year-by-year. Each model year is described in great detail, down to available options and trim. (The volume also includes an in-depth look at the development of the newest Camaro.) Although this level of detail may make the book a little tedious for the Fiat crowd, the great photos and period advertisements keep it entertaining. Each model year has a few handy info boxes that provide a basic look at mechanical specifications for each trim package. That feature alone makes the book a valuable reference. However, it was an interesting decision to include a box noting Camaro values given that collector car prices are constantly changing. There is also a generous appendix containing a complete inventory of each year's factory options.

For all its data, and there's a lot of it, the book remains an entertaining look at a model that certainly had its high and low points over the past 42 years. The Camaro was born in a boom time and lived to see the oil crisis, a few recessions and the implementation of EPA and DOT regulations that forever transformed the American automotive landscape. Camaro has been reborn and re-imagined a few times over the years but it's always been a benchmark for affordable performance. Today it's a model poised for a comeback at a time when GM desperately needs a hit.

For the die-hard Camaro fan, The Story of Camaro is a must-have. It's great as a coffee table book, but it will really shine when it's time to settle a disagreement over gear-ratios or horsepower figures.--Rory Carroll