WASHINGTON (Sept. 13)—Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. had intimations as early as 1987 that there were defects in the combination of the Ford Explorer and Firestone original equipment tires, according to a chronology released by veteran auto safety advocates Joan Claybrook and Clarence Ditlow. Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, compared the tire maker´s current problems with those it had during the Firestone 500 recall more than 20 years ago. When top Firestone officials were replaced in the late 1970s, "I thought it was a new day," she said. "I was wrong." Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said, "When it comes to concealing defects and violations of federal and state laws, cover-up is a culture at Ford." Both Claybrook and Ditlow called for stronger federal laws covering auto safety defects, including criminal penalties for corporate executives who knowingly sell defective products.