Above and below, Lee Guizzetti
of Ishpeming sits in his
1972 Buick Centurion.
ISHPEMING - A car is really an extension of your personality, Lee Guizzetti
said.But sometimes you can't afford your personality.Guizzetti lives within his
means even though he
fell in love with luxury nearly 40 years ago.That's when he
first ride in a convertible and the feel of riding in the open air hooked him.He
was a university freshman when he
first top-down rig: a 1962 Ford Galaxy.He
went through one after another until acquiring number six in 1973.It was a 1972 Buick Centurion and turned out to be a keeper.The 57-year-old Ishpeming insurance agent is its first and only owner.He
flew to Milwaukee to buy it off the showroom floor of Rank and Son
and drove it home to the Upper Peninsula.The icy blue Centurion with its roomy - to say the least - white interior was so pretty the dealer didn't have to twist any arms to make the sale; Guizzetti
already had his
mind set on buying it.That year he
had read a newspaper story about the lessening demand for convertibles.Automakers were going to stop manufacturing them."They were not a hot item," he
said."It was all sunroofs and t-tops."He
wanted to get one last convertible and chose the Centurion.
Born and raised in Negaunee, Guizzetti
knows this isn't the most convertible-friendly territory in the world.He
joked that there are only three to six days a year when the weather is nice enough that you can take a convertible on the road.He's
never used the Centurion for primary transportation.It's always been his
second car and has never been on the road in winter or in anything less than 75 degree weather.Or like he
said: "It's not your grocery-grabber type."No, it's not for family errands.The smooth-riding hunk of steel has only 55,000 miles on the odometer and most were put on in the early years.Now Guizzetti averages 500 easy parade and joyriding miles a year.It's a good thing because the 455 cubic inch engine uses high octane and leaded petrol.A substitute gasoline additive has to be purchased to feed the creature.Interested in history, Guizzetti
likes owning this heavy piece of Americana.His
first career was that of a government and American history teacher in Ishpeming.He was a low seniority staff member whose position was cut when schools consolidated after the building of Westwood High School. Married at the time and with three children, the family didn't want to leave the area so he parlayed his skills into the insurance business and now is owner of Central Insurance Agency in Ishpeming.
But when he
gets away from the office, Guizzetti
takes long cool rides on hot days down U.P. highways where one can imagine deer stopping in their tracks wondering if dinosaurs will be the next to return.