The Gulls made the best possible start in the 10th minute at Bootham Crescent on Saturday as Danny Stevens gave them the lead with a calm finish after collecting Kevin Nicholson's low delivery from the left.
It took another 10 minutes for Michael Poke to be called into action for the first time as Lanre Oyebanjo's drive forced the goalkeeper to collect at the second time of asking.
York came out all guns blazing after the restart with Alex Rodman forcing Poke into a save in the opening minute. Moments later, Torquay were inches away from doubling their lead with Rene Howe's deflected strike going wide of the target with Michael Ingham motionless.
The decisive second goal for Torquay came on the hour mark as Joe Oastler bundled the ball home after Howe decided to unselfishly square the ball to his teammate when clean through.