in 2005 we were doing really well, financially. my husband had put in a year or so at a really good new job, and was making good money. we paid off his career startup investments (cost more than the new car!) and had pretty much met all our needs and reasonable wants. except that my car was in need of a ton of work (for a car valued at $650) and half the time it wouldn't start.
so we bought a new car, and believe it or not, it was the only case we've ever seen of a new car being cheaper to buy than a used version of the same model. (because of the 4+ month waiting list for a new one, used ones had a several thousand dollar premium.) we could afford to think long term here, so we bought accordingly. we limped the old car along until the new one came.
we financed over 5 years, but refinanced about 8 months later for a better rate. we ended up with a 5.5 year loan, and treated it as a minimum payment. for about a year we made double-triple-quadruple car payments and watched the principal drop like a stone. it felt great! then we ran into some troubles in life and had to spend all our extra money paying hospital bills and coping with a lot of lost income due to injury. we paid the self-imposed minimums for quite a while.
we got a big tax refund this year- my income pays most of our taxes and i forgot to adjust when he lost his job. combined with a little less than our usual payment this month, it was enough to pay the damn thing off
we bought in march 2005, and paid off in february 2008. the refinanced loan was scheduled to be paid off in early 2011. we saved thousands in interest, and the bank lost well over half of the profit it expected to gain from us.