Every hot new car has to start somewhere, and that's where the "concept" car races into view.

Every year most, if not all, of the major car companies come out with concept cars. In many cases, these vehicles are nothing more than an automotive engineer's fantasy car, eye candy designed primarily to turn heads and drop jaws at auto shows.

Every once in a while, however, a few concept cars turn out to be harbingers of vehicles we can actually buy, albeit usually in an altered form. Even if these vehicles don't make it to a sales lot, they're still pretty dang cool to look at and talk about, even for those of us non-motorheads who can't even change our own oil.

So, without a lot of shoptalk jargon about horsepower, chassis design, etcetera, to weigh us down, here are five fascinating concept cars for 2012 that just might be turning heads and dropping jaws in your direction some day ...

2013 Mazda RX-9 concept car

No. 5: 2013 Mazda RX-9

Mazda's first incarnation of the RX line, the RX-7, enjoyed a tremendously successful 24-year lifespan, from 1978 to 2002. Along came the seemingly doomed RX-8. And after years of gradually fading into the muddled background the overcrowded sports car marketplace, the RX-8 will die a largely ignominious death in 2011.

So for 2012-2013, Mazda is going back to what worked before, the old reliable RX-7, to form its base for the forthcoming RX-9.

Where the RX-8 was a four-door coupe, the RX-9 is going to be a two-door coupe. Mazda's infamous (to motorheads) 16X rotary engine will be purring under the hood, and as a true sign of the times, it's rumored that the RX-9 will be offered with an optional hybrid gas/electric system.

This is one "concept" car that you will likely be able to own beginning sometime in 2013.

Next, we take a spin in the "funmobile" ...

2012 Scion FR-S concept car

No. 4: 2012 Scion FR-S

Toyota Motor Corporation introduced its Scion brand to the world in 2002. Although it's supposedly targeting the youthful consumers of Generation Y, Scion's current lineup consists primarily of five pretty boring, fairly nondescript and homely looking models.

This could all change with the 2012 Scion FR-S. "FR-S" is an acronym for Front engine, Rear wheel drive, Sport, which is an apt moniker for this sleek and shiny, ultra-sporty rear-wheel drive "funmobile."

The 2012 Scion FR-S will be powered by a 2.0-liter boxer engine, designed to compete with other FR-S models, such as the Mazda Miata, Nissan 370Z and Hyundai Genesis coupe.

Not only is the Scion FR-S another concept car that will definitely become a reality, but at about $25K, it's also the most affordable concept car on this list.

Our next car shows us that less truly is more ...

2011 Mini Rocketman concept car

No. 3: 2011 Mini Rocketman Concept

Perhaps no other car company offers more coolness with less size than BMW's aptly named sub-brand Mini. If you think the Mini Cooper is small, what till you see the 2011 Mini Rocketman Concept.

At 11 feet in length by 6 feet 3 inches in width by 4 feet 7 inches in height, the Rocketman is a hair bigger than the original 1960s Mini models.

The 2011 Mini Rocketman Concept car is efficiency personified. It provides a comfy, "3+1" seating design, double-hinged doors that open with the entire sill coming along, and rumor has it that its engine is capable of delivering 78 miles per gallon.

And if fuel efficiency isn't what you consider cool, check out these icy Rocketman features:

• 18-inch alloy wheels with an aerodynamically active surface
• "Connected" infotainment system with three-dimensional graphics display and interactive speedometer screen
• Steering-wheel-mounted joystick
• All-glass roof
• Interior LED lighting