Having a set of deployment exe's is clearly a reason to look for an alternate deployment technology. Unfortunately, we don't offer any particular recommendation for a 3rd party solution.
With respect to elevation through GP, there is no way to use Group Policy to elevate a certain set of executables. However, in Windows Vista we worked to ensure that our installer technologies such as MSI and ActiveX had this ability. To accomplish this we introduced the ActiveX Installer Service and, if you're interested, you can check out a demo here:
Thanks for the post!