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LAWMAKERS TRY TO AVOID BANNING OF FIAT 500S

They're squat and snub-nosed, slow but steadfast. The Fiat 500 -- the tiny Italian car with a big personality -- last rolled off assembly lines nearly 30 years ago, and is still fighting retirement.

With more than 600,000 Fiat 500s still out on the roads, two Italian senators are pushing a bill to make sure the beloved mini-car that thrust Italy into the motor age is not done in by modern anti-pollution laws.

Despite protests from environmentalists, Sens. Cesare Salvi and Luciano Magnalbo want the car and others like it to get greater access to smog-conscious big cities, where they are often restricted. The cars were built without catalytic converters, which eliminate many pollutants in exhaust fumes.

The proposal argues that some cars deserve special treatment as part of Italy's "historic, cultural and technological" heritage.

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