I even go one step farther than "doing it myself" - I don't replace alternators, I rebuild them. The parts are often hard to find (search the 'net) but they are relatively cheap. I've had to rebuild the alternator in my truck twice now - instead of $170 for a rebuild alternator from the parts store, it was $25 for replacement brushes. The second time was $30 for new bearings (solvent go in the bearings and ran them dry). Taking apart and rebuilding an alternator is fairly trivial.
As for "is there anything special" about the Lotus alternator? I suspect that it's only the parts bag that it comes it. There is no reason that they wouldn't have used a standard Toyota sourced alternator.
Tim Mullen --- There is no such thing as Touring suspension or Touring wheels.
I love being married. It's so great to find that one person that you want to annoy for the rest of your life. - Rita Rudner
Chantilly, VA http://members.cox.net/elans4/
05 Lotus Elise - Chrome Orange - No Touring - No LSS - No Hardtop - Lotus Driving Lights - Lotus "Chin Guards" - plain and simple.
94 Miata R Package - Black
72 Lotus Elan Sprint - Colorado Orange/Cirrus White