I started with Miranda and didn't want anything bigger. The Nikon FTn was the thing everyone lusted after but was too big and heavy for me. Also had a couple of Pen F bodies. They didn't have built-in meters but I was used to a hand held incident meter anyway. When the OM-1 was introduced I bought one as soon as I could afford it. My first accessory was a 1-4 plain matte screen, I'd had one in the Miranda and still prefer them over any micro prism or split wedge screens. (Now I use 1-10 screens, plain matte with grid lines) Never cared for the later single digit OM's as the humble OM-1 or 1n has always fulfilled my needs and have been not too expensive on the used market.
As to what is a better camera, Pentax or Nikon or Canon or Minolta or Topcon or Konica or Olympus, that is a meaningless question. These were all top notch systems, (although Topcon suffered from dearth of lenses). Each had both advantages and liabilities, strong points and weak points. Some have aged better than others to be sure and some were made in huge numbers and are more available today (I'm looking at you Nikon).
So.....cult or no cult, if you can, try out several then pick what you like. Fine 35mm film SLR's are still a great deal.