One of the world's oldest car makers has become the V8 Supercars' newest face in a deal that will ensure heavyweights Stone Brothers Racing (SBR) will cut long-term ties with Ford.
Mercedes-Benz will become the fourth manufacturer to feature in the V8 Supercars next year - joining fellow newcomers Nissan - after SBR joined forces with Erebus Motorsport to create a new super alliance featuring the famous three-pointed star.
In an unusual deal, they will receive engineering support from Mercedes' performance car division AMG but no financial aid from the German-based prestige brand.
Erebus Motorsport - owned by Sydney-based property developer Betty Klimenko - will finance the set-up which will boast three vehicles next season.
The landmark deal ensures SBR will draw the curtain on their 14-year partnership with Ford at the end of the season - a stint that featured three drivers' championship titles and a 1998 Bathurst victory.
"Leaving Ford was not an easy thing to do but as car markets change here in Australia I felt the time was right for a new challenge and with Ford's mutual agreement we have decided to part ways," SBR owner Ross Stone said.
"We will be racing a Ford Falcon for the last time at Olympic Park in December and will see out our contract which ends this year."
Erebus Motorsport has been dominant in the Australian GT category with their Mercedes entry this year but did not expect to have it all their own way in 2013.
"There is a lot of work required between now and the first event next year (in March)," Erebus Motorsport CEO Ryan Maddison said.
"By no means will it be an easy road with V8 Supercars being such a highly competitive environment.
"We do not underestimate the task ahead."
The new alliance formed over 12 months of talks was made possible under the new Car of the Future (COTF) program regulations which open the way for additional manufacturers and lower-cost cars from next year.
The new team will run five-litre engines with the AMG bodywork over the COTF chassis which is almost complete at SBR's Gold Coast headquarters.
Stone said they would start testing in earnest in January after revealing their first engine at the Melbourne announcement on Wednesday.
Holden veteran Garth Tander looked forward to tangling with the newcomers.
"They're just other cars to beat, it doesn't matter (about the make)," he told AAP.
"They're Stone Brothers' cars. It doesn't matter if they're Falcons or Mercedes - we've just got to beat those three cars regardless of the shape of them.
"I'm really happy for those guys (SBR) but as far as when we roll the cars out on the track next year they're just three more cars that we want to have behind us."
Reigning V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup of Holden welcomed the extra competition after years of duelling with traditional rival Ford.
"I think ideally four or five manufacturers is good for the sport," he said.
It is believed SBR's current drivers Shane Van Gisbergen, Lee Holdsworth and Tim Slade will remain at the new team next year.