The controversial "Car Book" of safety ratings on new cars, shelved this year by the Reagan administration, is being published privately by a federal official who yesterday submitted his resignation over the issue.

John A. Gillis, an official of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said he decided to "write and publish the 1982 Car Book to fill the gap left when the agency decided to discontinue that publication." He was the principal author of the 1981 book, which has been distributed to 1.5 million consumers.

Gillis' decision rocked NHTSA, according to officials there. They said they didn't know that he was preparing a 1982 version until late this week.

Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis decided earlier this year that a new book would not be issued. The decision was attacked by consumer activists as a concession to the auto industry.

NHTSA said Gillis had been assigned to study better ways of providing consumers with the information on government safety tests and other ratings contained in the book.

The new book was financed by Gillis, the Center for Auto Safety and the publishers, Tilden Press. Joel Makower, president of Tilden Press, said the book will be released Monday and will be sold in bookstores and at the center.