The uncle who gave it to me has been my favorite ever since :) Runners up where meccano and fisher technik, but I only got my hands on those much later.
Now, a good 43 years later some of that same lego + the additions of several family members has made its way to children two generations down the line and is still in use. Most of the 40+ year old parts still look pretty good, and are still in 'daily' use.
Rather than any of the shiny toys with 'batteries included' of some merchandising formula I give little kids lego for their birthdays, and I'm always happy to see that years later when all the 'shiny toys' have long been forgotten the lego is still in (more often than not quite original) use.
I credit lego with my passion for 'modular' programming.
The marketeers at lego seem to be relatively under control, it didn't get out of hand as much as with other toy companies. The 'themed' lego is another thing to stay away from I think.
The best I ever did was three speeds plus reverse, but then I was only eight ;).