DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- The Chevrolet Corvette, once the coolest of cool rides on Route 66 and the rest of America's roads, has suffered the cruelest of fates: It's known as an old man's toy.
Even the head of Chevy marketing acknowledges that too many people see it as the car of "the successful plumber."
General Motors is determined to change that.
In two days, Chevrolet will unveil the new Corvette, which so far GM has teased as having a sleeker exterior, a bigger engine and a dramatically improved interior.
GM design chief Ed Welburn this week unfurled a poster on a table at his office in suburban Detroit showing images of the remodeled Corvette along with Stingrays from 1959 and 1963.
"I want this image on every kid's wall," he said in advance of the Jan. 13 unveiling of the new car on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The redesigned Corvette, code-named C7, arrives as one of 13 new Chevrolets that GM is bringing out in the United States this year to update showrooms that have grown full of old models left over from the automaker's 2009 bankruptcy reorganization.
The company needs new products to help stave off declining U.S. market share that reached an 88-year low in 2012.
The challenge for GM's Chevrolet brand is to draw on the strength of Corvette's 60-year heritage as a dream-inspiring racer while overcoming its recent baggage as an afterthought to Volkswagen AG's Audi and Porsche.
GM is betting new styling, improved interiors and marketing efforts, including aiming the car straight at young people through placement in video games, will help.
"The big thing is bringing people to the brand and bringing a lot of energy to the brand," Welburn said. "People will look a bit differently at Chevrolet if Corvette is an even more relevant vehicle, a vehicle that is very inspiring, that is on the leading edge in so many ways."
While enthusiasm is strong among some Baby Boomers who remember the car from their youth, Welburn said that somewhere along the way Corvette posters fell off the bedroom walls of young people.
He remembered a visit of a friend's son to his garage and seeing his excitement for the Chevy Camaro while ignoring an old Corvette.
"The challenge is that it is thought of as an older person's car," said Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst with Edmunds.com.