For a noob how good/bad of an engine would a 1st gen Rabbit/Golf be to rebuild?

I got a lot of suggestions on my other post for a Beetle engine, but prices are crazy for what you get. I know the Rabbit/Golf is a good 30 years more modern, but couldn’t be too bad right? Plus it’s carbed (I’m assuming) which would be fun to play with. The only downside is no auto to try to rebuild, but the car would also be 1,000x more fun with a manual so...

It’s looking like my only other options would be a 70's or 80's truck. However I actually kind of want to stay away from V8s since that’s twice as many cylinders and a heftier block to wield around. Not to mention more expensive machine work, if that’s required. (Again I’m assuming here.)

Case and point for the Rabbit/Golf. If this were a Beetle it would be $2,000


Just to clarify. This would 100% be a project car to rebuild a motor for fun/education.