Decades of selling and racing cars had made MacPherson determined, persistent - an old-school professional who never settled on past success.
I can go faster, MacPherson thought.
The rubber tips on the bottom of his walker had worn out.
MacPherson ordered a friend to replace them with ones made from Delrin, a much-harder material.
"He knew he could (go faster) - he was driven to do it,'' his son Jeff told several hundred friends, relatives and business associates at a celebration of MacPherson's life in Tustin on Friday.
"He was going to have his life - his routine - back,'' Jeff MacPherson said.
The end came quickly for the former Naval officer with the shock of red hair and - as he would say - the big mouth. MacPherson died March 30 of heart failure after months of poor health. Over the years, he had overcome several health problems, including a stroke he suffered in the early 1980s.
About 700 people said goodbye to MacPherson at Joe's Garage, his private automotive museum and banquet facility that serves as a monument to his passion and to Southern California's car culture.
Guests in hot-rod shirts and sandals mingled with men and women in suits.
Big-band tunes played over speakers while guests sipped beer and cocktails.
They plucked pork canap?s, chicken satay and other appetizers from tables covered in black tablecloths, and admired the 75 collectibles vehicles gleaming under the lights.
MacPherson was an indelible personification of Orange County's car culture - from used cars to vintage hot rods.
Showing an early interest in acting but embracing car sales after a stint peddling magazines, MacPherson moved from Los Angeles to Orange County in 1958.
He settled in Tustin and raised three children with his first wife, Betty, who died in 1999.
MacPherson helped pioneer the concept of auto centers, where multiple dealerships operate in close proximity, and probably has sold as many cars in Orange County as anyone.
He helped develop the Irvine, Tustin and Foothill Ranch Auto Centers, years after opening his first auto-related company, MacHoward Leasing, and his first dealership, Joe MacPherson Chevrolet in San Clemente.
Short in stature and sometimes in the way he dealt with people (especially reporters, so loathe was he to boast about his achievements), MacPherson was remembered as an honest, fair-minded businessman who cared more about people than possessions.
"I believe his legacy was his tremendous generosity,'' Rodger Grove, son of MacPherson's second wife, Shirley, and a partner with MacPherson in RJ Realty Investors, said in a eulogy. "What drove him was sharing his success with people less fortunate than him."
MacPherson preferred to give away some of his millions in anonymity. He donated more than $2 million to Orange County schools and was a devoted supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County.
The day MacPherson died started like any other: breakfast and coffee with old friends. For more than four decades, he dined each morning with the same group of pals - usually at Coco's.
Lately, he had been semi-retired from the car business, but active in commercial real estate dealings.
On March 30, MacPherson was able to drive himself to Joe's Garage.
There, he fell ill.
At the hospital, MacPherson was able to squeeze his wife's hand three times - for, "I love you.''
A private man, he died a Christian.
"He had a great life,'' Jeff MacPherson said. "He lived it with gusto.''