I passed one of those tiny little milestones lately, this one with my car. It's getting near on five years old, and I'm coming up to its last couple payments. And, finally, the amount that I still owe on the car has dropped below what I paid for my previous vehicle, the Mercury Sable of Monthly Emergency Repairs. It feels a bit odd to have what was once such a big debt dropped down so; I remember when it seemed like I was just making payments without ever reducing my debt, the way my student loans are going. For that matter, this is the first time I've had any substantial timed debt (as opposed to credit card debt) paid down to the point I can see it vanishing. That's mostly a reflection of me not buying very many expensive things.
This month, the total remaining has dropped below what I paid for my previous car, back in the 90s, a Saturn from back in the days when I think they maybe only had the one four-door car model around because I don't remember what model it was any more specifically than that. (I think it's also under the $2,000 I paid for my very first car, an '82 Grand Marquis that in the late 80s taught me how to drive a barge-like vehicle.)
In a couple more months, the debt will be entirely gone, and the car probably will have about reached the 60,000 miles that mark the expiration of its warranties. It hasn't shown any of the signs of accumulating distress that would signal its readiness to start requiring monthly emergency repairs, so, I'm figuring on this doing something pleasant for my cushion of savings instead.
Trivia: By the close of World War I some 572 Federal Aid projects had been approved for highway construction, but only five completed, for a total of 17.6 miles of roads built. (Entry into the war made highways a low-priority target and most states were still creating highway departments.) Source: The Big Roads: The Untold Story Of The Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created The American Superhighways, Earl Swift.
Currently Reading: The Quincunx of Time, James Blish.